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Differentiating Seals of Approval

Posted on 12.28.2009

Online commerce is thriving, even in the face of an economy that is still struggling to get back to full speed. In fact, recent comScore figures show increases in holiday season spending over last year, after early data started to become available. Of course, more consumers are likely getting online to do their shopping than ever before and one reason is the perception that, as time goes by, shopping online is more secure than in the past.

Periodically, the Web experiences rather signifcant security breaches. It's happened before and it will happen again. If this happens to your website, the fallout can be absolutely nuclear. Some businesses never recover.

It is essential to not only protect your website and customer data from attack, but also to let your customers know that you take serious measures to protect them. Privacy policies are a good start, but you might want to consider a more forward, consumer-facing approach in the form of website seals. These simple badges can go a long way to comforting users and helping them open their wallets, turn over information or return to your website.

There are plenty of website trust and security programs and solutions that provide seals and many overlap each other. What follows are just a few, and some information about what sets them apart from others.

BBBOnLine Reliability Seal: Few consumer watchdog groups are as well-known or respected as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And that’s why, for many websites, their Reliability Seal makes sense. In order to be eligible for the seal, website owners must agree to follow the BBB’s Code of Online Business Practices. According to the BBB website, “The following Code of Online Business Practices is designed to guide ethical 'business to customer' conduct in electronic commerce. These guidelines represent sound online advertising and selling practices that the Better Business Bureau (‘BBB’) and BBBOnLine believe will boost customer trust and confidence in online commerce.”

Thawte: In the world of SSL certificates, Thawte has emerged as a trusted provider. Thawte encrypts data transferred during website visits, so this type of security protection is essential for e-commerce websites and any other sites requesting and sending personal information. The Thawte seal assures customers that personal information is secure. They provide code signing certificates for various platforms including Microsoft Authenticode, Sun Java, Adobe AIR, Mac and Microsoft Office and VBA.

TRUSTe: While providing ancillary services, TRUSTe is most recognized as a producer of websites’ privacy policies and provider of validation of those policies. Starting at $49.95 per month, TRUSTe will generate a privacy policy, continuously scan your site for compliance and provide unlimited customer dispute resolution, along with a seal for your website.

ValidatedSite: The ValidatedSite seal assures website visitors that an actual, accountable business is behind the website — important in a time when any website can be produced in a matter of minutes. ValidatedSite ensures the business has a physical location, working e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and validates the presence of company officers, in the event a business disappears. The documents required for the seal must be signed, initialed and notarized, so they can be used in a court of law to protect consumers. Prices range from $100 to $3,600, depending on the site's ranking from and Each seal is verifiable to each individual domain only and expires annually unless renewed, preventing a one-time verification from being duplicated.

buySAFE: Among buySAFE’s options, merchants can enlist to place funds in a type of bonded account, to ensure customers that their purchase is through a reputable online merchant, guaranteed to deliver on their promises. The buySAFE seal also shows up in search results, offering a competitive advantage, and is very popular with eBay merchants.

ECO-SAFE: For those websites that want to cater to an environmentally conscious crowd, consider the ECOSAFE Merit Badge. The badge tells website visitors that you promote eco-friendly practices and helps prevent the printing of website pages by offering buttons to send the page to an e-mail address, or download a PDF of the page. ECO-SAFE claims that participating websites increase subscribers and loyalty from visitors.

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