Your E-commerce Website Needs SSL Certificates—Here’s Why

3 min read · 3 years ago


As a business owner, trust with your customers is key to establishing and maintaining a long-lasting relationship. You build that trust through every interaction, whether in person, on the phone, in emails, or through your website.

That last one—your website—is particularly important for e-commerce businesses, where it might be the first (and only) interaction you have with customers. Hence the importance of securing your site so customers can feel safe while browsing and purchasing your products. You can secure your site with tools like SSL certificates, which we explore below.

3 FAQs About SSL Certificates

Female IT Engineer Working in Server Room

1. What is an SSL certificate?

For technical reference, SSL stands for secure sockets layer, which is a global standard security technology. More to the point: An SSL certificate is a security protocol that serves a dual purpose:

  • On one hand, the certificate offers visitors proof of identity for the website, detailing aspects such as domain name, hostname, server name, company name, and location.
  • In addition, the certificate encrypts the connection between your website and visitors’ browsers. This ensures whatever data your website visitors are sending or receiving on the site remains private and secure.

How can you tell whether a site is using SSL? If you’ve ever noticed the familiar padlock icon near the URL when visiting a website, it’s because the site has an active SSL certificate. In addition, that site’s web address would have started with “https” instead of the standard (and less secure) “http.”

2. Where did SSL certificates come from?

Do you remember Netscape? It was the face of the internet before Google came along. In any case, Netscape first developed the SSL certificate in the mid-1990s when the internet was starting to become more prominent and readily accessible to the everyday consumer.

Interestingly enough, the first publicly released version of the protocol was SSL 2.0. Theories vary as to why the first version (SSL 1.0) was never released, but it’s widely believed to be because of critical flaws and vulnerabilities. SSL 2.0 addressed these flaws, but was also quickly superseded by the more secure SSL 3.0.

3. Why should you have an SSL certificate for your business website?

Remember that trust is an essential part of solidifying customer relationships. SSL certificates are extremely valuable for any business, especially one that uses an e-commerce website, because they instill a sense of trust in site visitors. These soon-to-be customers are sharing sensitive financial and identifying information, and knowing you have taken strides to secure that information goes a long way in building trust.

In addition, SSL certificates are one of several requirements for PCI DSS compliance—the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This standard lays out security mandates for businesses to follow to protect sensitive consumer data such as credit card numbers. So, if you plan to accept online payments from customers for your products, SSL certificates are a must.

But credit card numbers aren’t the only data points warranting an SSL certificate. Plenty of other sensitive information needs to be protected when visitors access and use your website:

  • Other financial information (such as bank accounts)
  • Personally identifiable information (names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, etc.)
  • Login credentials
  • Legal documents
  • Medical records
  • Other proprietary or confidential information

Beyond mere requirements, there’s also the business case of improved conversion rates, a prime concern for eCommerce retailers. Employing an SSL certificate has been cited as a key reason for boosting conversion rates on websites by significant amounts—between 10% and 30%, and in some cases even more. Similar studies have found there’s also a high correlation between the use of SSL certificates and customers spending more per purchase.

Unsurprisingly, the reverse case is true as well: Without a sign of security and trust like an SSL certificate, customers are less likely to buy on your website. Approximately 15% of cart abandonment is attributable to customer concerns about payment security, and that could represent a sizeable blow to your bottom line.

Now that you’re in the know about SSLs, just remember that when you make a website, be sure to use a website design service that employs SSL certificates by default. A security-first approach is a must when choosing the right website design and website hosting partner.

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