How Shoppers Want Retailers to Respond to Data Breaches

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues facing retailers today as illustrated by 2018’s many high-profile data breaches.

HBC, Macy’s, Amazon, Adidas, Under Armour, Sears — these are just some of the major merchants hit with cybersecurity incidents last year, potentially impacting hundreds of millions of consumers (Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal breach alone affected 150 million app users).

Consumer trust has been eroded so much that only 11 percent feel that retailers are prepared to properly handle these events, according to a survey from commerce technology company First Data. Only 8 percent said that retail is among the most trustworthy industries, compared with 46 percent for financial services and 39 percent for health care.

So how can executives win back consumer confidence? First, according to experts, they have to take steps to prepare for potential threats before they happen by investing in antifraud solutions such as data encryption, multifactor authentication and AI-enabled security monitoring.

Communicating with customers at all stages in the transaction is key, too: Shoppers should know that retailers care about cybersecurity at times other than the aftermath of a hack. If and when a breach does happen, though, reaction time is essential: 45 percent of respondents said they expect to be notified within one hour of a retailer discovering that its data has been compromised.

A separate survey released last week by payment security firm PCI Pal suggests that GDPR regulations in Europe may already be heightening consumers’ expectations around data security. 41 percent of U.K. consumers said they would never shop with a brand again after a hack, versus 21 percent of Americans. Almost a third of Brits also said they spend less with retailers and other businesses that they perceive to be untrustworthy with their data, compared with 18 percent of U.S. shoppers.

As for how to contact customers to let them know about an incident, a multichannel approach is best: 34 percent of First Data respondents said that they prefer to be alerted via text, while 33 percent prefer email, and 28 percent want a phone call.

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