RuralKing has been providing U.S. rural customers with a wide variety of retail items—from farm equipment and livestock feed to housewares and toys—since 1960 when it opened its first store in Mattoon, Illinois. Today the company, which calls itself “America’s Farm and Home Store,” has 56 physical stores in seven Midwestern states, which each stock between 40,000 and 60,000 SKUs. In 1999, the company became one of the first in its niche to create an online presence. Initially, the main goal of the www.RuralKing.com website was to enable customers to view merchandise before making the trek to one of the company’s brick and mortar stores. Today the website sells more SKUs than RuralKing’s physical stores, and has become a significant source of revenue and a means of expanding the company’s customer base well beyond the company’s local storefronts.
“Customers want to feel safe, otherwise they won’t follow through on their purchases and enter their credit card information… For customers to have that kind of confidence, we knew we couldn’t use just any security service.”Jeremy Miller
Vice President of e-Commerce, RuralKing
From its inception the RuralKing.com website has had SSL certification, but for many years it had no other way to reassure customers that the site was secure. The company is well known in the seven states where it has a physical presence, but potential customers on the West Coast, for instance, were not aware of the company’s customer-centric reputation. RuralKing’s management agreed that the company needed a way to convince potential online customers—especially those beyond local store geographic areas but others as well—that the site was indeed safe enough for them to enter their credit cards and follow through on their purchases.
When RuralKing heard that the McAfee SECURE service was proven to increase sales conversions on e-commerce sites, the company decided to conduct A/B testing for a month to see for itself what impact the McAfee SECURE service would have. During that month, RuralKing.com had 165,000 visits. Half of those visits saw the McAfee SECURE trustmark on the upper right corner of the site’s web pages; half didn’t.
“The A/B test showed an 11.65 percent increase in orders from customers who saw the McAfee SECURE trustmark versus those who didn’t,” says Jeremy Miller, RuralKing vice president of e-commerce. “That kind of impact adds up fast.”
Consequently, RuralKing decided to implement the McAfee SECURE service. The RuralKing.com website sits on top of the Magento e-commerce platform. Because Magento is a McAfee partner adding the McAfee SECURE service to the site was quick and easy. According to Miller, “We just grabbed the source code provided by McAfee and added it to the Magento code; implementation took less than 15 minutes.”
Results and ROI
RuralKing has no doubt that the McAfee SECURE service is working well to keep its customers safe and give them the confidence needed to follow through on purchases. When a customer calls and asks, ‘How do I know your website is secure?’, RuralKing customer representatives point to the McAfee SECURE service. Customers are told to click on the McAfee SECURE trustmark to read additional information about how the McAfee service protects the site and their information.
“We still have skeptical rural customers that want to pick up the phone to place an order, but after we explain to them how the McAfee SECURE service makes it safe for them to buy online, most go straight to the website and order,” notes Miller. “For many, it’s their first e-commerce purchase ever.”
Besides providing customers with confidence, the McAfee SECURE service has caught vulnerabilities that RuralKing was not aware of. The McAfee SECURE service’s daily scans search for more than 40,000 vulnerabilities remotely, without any need for expensive or complicated hardware or software. In addition to this daily hacker testing, sites that earn the McAfee SECURE trustmark also undergo a series of tests to uncover unintentional links to malicious websites, the hidden presence of browser exploit code, and the accidental sharing of customer email data.
“The McAfee SECURE service is a critical item in our tool bag. It’s the way we convey to customers that they are safe with us. When they see the McAfee trustmark, they get that message.”Jeremy Miller
Vice President of e-Commerce, RuralKing
A RuralKing administrator logs onto the McAfee SECURE service to regularly check on reported vulnerabilities. The company notifies its web hosting company of even minor vulnerabilities that the service catches. “The McAfee SECURE service helps us be proactive and stay on top of security,” claims Miller. “We want to know about all vulnerabilities, even minor ones, so that they don’t turn into problems later.”
So far, there have been no major vulnerabilities or threats to address, but Miller finds comfort in the fact that if the McAfee SECURE service discovered a high-level threat, the McAfee trustmark would disappear until the situation was remediated. Miller notes that other security services the company looked at performed an initial scan but did not scan daily so the presence of their security seal did not necessarily indicate a secure site—unlike the McAfee SECURE trustmark.
In addition, Miller comments that all of his interactions with McAfee have been extremely positive. For example, when the McAfee SECURE scan produced a false positive alert, he was able to talk with someone at McAfee right away and explain what he thought was causing the alert. Within 24 hours, the issue had been resolved. “It’s nice to know we can pick up the phone and talk to a live person,” he says.
For now, RuralKing is focused on growing its existing physical stores and online business, but if the company decides down the road to create another e-commerce site, it will definitely use the McAfee SECURE service. Miller’s advice to other small and medium-sized e-commerce operations is to do A/B testing and to look closely at what each security service offers and what its brand represents:
Is the service a recognizable brand? Does it provide daily website scanning? Does the security seal disappear if a threat is discovered on your site? You get what you pay for. There are less expensive security seals out there but all they give you is a seal on your web page, not real protection. The benefits of the McAfee SECURE service go well beyond the seal.”