How to Design an E-Commerce Privacy Policy Your Customers Will Trust

How to Design an E-Commerce Privacy Policy Your Customers Will Trust

Privacy policies are, admittedly, not on the top of the list of priorities of the e-commerce professionals. Yes, you know you need to have it, if nothing else because your merchant account provider requires it, but a simple copying and pasting of a competitor’s policy will do the trick, right?

Well, it might or it might not and many online shoppers never look at privacy policies anyway. Yet, there are plenty of consumers that are concerned with privacy and you will have to make them feel comfortable with becoming your customers. These consumers subject e-commerce websites to a much closer scrutiny than non-commercial websites. As well they should, as e-commerce websites collect sensitive information that they want to be well protected and used solely for the purposes of the transaction taking place on the site.

So how do you devise a privacy policy that achieves the goal of allaying the fears of privacy-conscious consumers? You have two options: doing it yourself or having a privacy organization do it for you. Let’s take a look at each option separately:

  • Doing it yourself. If you decide to write your privacy policy yourself, you can and probably should look for the basic framework at the policy of a competitor that you know has done a good job at it. That said, you will still need to make sure that your policy complies with applicable legal requirements in your state. Beyond that, your privacy policy will have to answer the following basic questions:
    • What customer information is collected. Generally, consumers want to provide a minimum of personal information and you should not require more than what is necessary.
    • With whom the information is shared. Consumers do not want sensitive information shared with anyone not concerned with the transaction at hand and you will be well advised to respect their wish. Not only will you help convince visitors to become your customers, but you will protect yourself from possible legal actions in the future.
    • How customers can opt out. Be clear on this point and tell customers exactly what information they can protect from sharing with third parties and how they can opt out of promotional and other communications.
  • How to Design an E-Commerce Privacy Policy Your Customers Will TrustUsing a privacy organization. There are third-party service providers that specialize in creating privacy policies. The best-known among them is TRUSTe. Such organizations provide a “seal of approval” to be placed on the participant’s website, which is a great and conspicuous way to show consumers that you are serious about protecting personal information and are taking the necessary measures to do so. Additionally, many consumers know that seals of approval are not cheap, so that lends you additional credibility.

Once your privacy policy is designed, make it easy for visitors to find it. Placing a link to it into your website’s header or footer will usually do the trick, as on most websites it will make it accessible from every page.

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