Ecommerce shows no sign of slowing down, partly because of the fact that you can now create a thriving web store without getting into the hassles of complex coding. With web applications and cloud servers, ecommerce has become a matter of several clicks. WordPress is by far the best CMS available for almost any type of website, especially an ecommerce web store. Just install WooCommerce, and your online store is ready for serious business!
Back in December 2015, Automattic (the company behind WordPress) reported that WooCommerce is used by 42% of the total ecommerce stores across the internet. This can be verified by ecommerce usage statistics presented by Builtwith.com.
By going online, store owners can now reach audiences far and wide using digital advertising mediums such as Google Adsense and Facebook Advertisement. This means that the need to advertise products physically is effectively minimized.
Due to this increase in online stores, transactions between sellers and buyers are moving from physical to digital payment options including online banking, credit cards, bitcoins and other confidential payment gateways.
One of the things that newbie ecommerce store owners can miss out is the security of the store. In this post, I will highlight the importance of using SSL certificates with online stores. These certificates change the underlying protocol to HTTPS and secure the sessions of the customers at the store.
What Is SSL?
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a layer of security that lies between the browser and the web server and ensures that the communication is encrypted, private and secure. Have you noticed that some sites start with http and some start with https and have a green padlock like the image below:
Web sites with address starting with https have SSL certificate(s) installed.
Why Do Stores Require an SSL Certificate?
All communication over a traditional HTTP connection is sent in Plain Text and can be read by any attacker who manages to break into the connection between the user and the website. In the case of an order cart or a form with login credentials, the attacker can easily gain access to the information because it is in plain text and easily readable.
With a https (SSL) connection, the communication between the browser and the website is encrypted. Even if an attacker manages to break into the connection, there is the additional layer of encryption that denies access to the information.
Benefits of SSL Certificate
- Customer information, such as credit card numbers, is encrypted and cannot be intercepted.
- Visitors can verify that you are a registered business and that you own the domain.
- Customers are more likely to trust and complete purchases from sites that have an SSL certificate.
SSL Certificate as a SERP Ranking Factor
In the mid of 2014, Google officially announced that its algorithm would prioritize SSL secures websites over non-SSL sites. By integrating SSL, not only is your site secure but it also ranks higher in Google’s SERP.
Google Chrome Will Mark Non-SSL Sites as Not-Secure
In September 2016, Google Chrome announced a similar initiative to create a safer web by announcing that it will mark websites that use SSL certificates as a Secure Connection from January 2017.
Here is how https enabled sites would look like in Google Chrome.
Not only this, if a non-HTTPs page that collects passwords or credit card information, Chrome will mark it as Not Secure. Here is what it will look like in Chrome.
Offer Your Customers a Secure Environment
Customers value their privacy and security. Thus, if your store is not secured with an SSL certificate, you are losing potential customers. SSL certificates is an important component of a broader store security policy. When you click on SSL certified padlock icon, a popup notification will alert the visitors that the site is secured with an SSL certification.
If you are not providing an SSL certificate, the visitors will see the notification that the connection to this site is not secure.
If your site is not served over HTTPS, not only your customers’ data is insecure but there are significant threats to the integrity of the store itself.
So what is the easiest way of getting an SSL certificate? You could thank the good people at Let’s Encrypt who provide FREE SSL certificates for online stores.
Why Let’s Encrypt?
Let’s Encrypt was launched in April 2016 with the objective of automating the process of manual creation and validation of certificate authority for Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. It is a FREE and open certificate that secure transmissions between web servers and browsers.
In a recent report by Let’s Encrypt, they claimed to cross 24 million active certificates. New hosting providers have started to offer secure hosting by offering a 1-click installation of Let’s Encrypt certificates.
How Can I Secure My Online Store?
If you have any question about securing your WooCommerce store, feel free to discuss via the comments section below.