We are living in the digital age – where online shopping rules and midnight Black Friday purchasing is now being conducted primarily from the couch. But behind the scenes of retailers, combining digital services with existing brick and mortar operations isn’t a walk in the park.
According to Gartner’s 2016 Chief Supply Chain Officer survey, 57 percent of CSOs listed the sales shift from physical stores to online retail as one of the top three threats that will impact their businesses over the next three years. All age groups have issues with online shopping trust – it’s not just a Baby Boomer issue. According to a survey by Accenture, 57 percent of shoppers of all ages are very concerned that their personal information could be stolen during a transaction, while only about a third of people are confident that their favorite retailer is keeping their personal information safe.
Shoppers expect consistent, frictionless and most importantly, secure retail experiences – online, in store and through mobile apps. For retailers to remain competitive in the digital age, they must revolutionize the way they operate to meet these demands and provide a personalized, secure customer experience at every point of interaction – digital or physical.
Retailers face four major challenges as they move to create this omnichannel shopping experience – and digital identity management is the answer to them all.
1. Customer’s data privacy and sharing concerns
Retail companies are racing to secure data and privacy as more users, employees and connected devices go online every day. Retail data isn’t just important to the outlet, it’s vital to the customer – credit card information, addresses, emails and phone numbers. Keeping retail data secure is not just about meeting stringent new government or industry regulations, preventing financial loss and staying out of the headlines, it’s also about protecting customer loyalty and trust.
It’s time for the customer to take the driver’s seat. Retailers can give customers the ability to specify who and what can access their personal data, when and for how long by employing a digital identity management platform. Customers should be able to determine which retail outlets get access to their data, for how long and under what conditions – with the click of a button.
2. Inability to connect users, devices and things
Many retail organizations have developed flashy websites, mobile apps and physical stores with digital devices at the check-out stand to stay relevant and capture the most data possible. Unfortunately for retailers’ budgets, unless these initiatives are integrated and deliver a connected user experience they add the risk not only of incurring additional operational cost but also of frustrating impatient customers and partners.
Every retailer should register the digital identities of users, devices and connected things; link them together; authorize and de-authorize their access to data; apply policies that say what level and type of security is required; and tailor the experience to each individual identity’s established preferences.
3. Lack of continuous, contextual security
Cyberattacks not only damage brands and reputations but also impact revenue as well as legal obligations. A ‘secure’ system is not just a matter of having the right credentials, such as a username and password, and not losing them.
Let’s say a ‘strange’ customer logs into his or her account with an online retailer. The retailer’s identity management system needs to be able to react to the situation. Does this customer usually log into this account from Antarctica? Does he or she typically log in with an Android phone? What about at 4 a.m.? And once in, does the customer get access to account data? Digital identity management solutions flag these types of warning signs to the retailer’s security system and prevent access.
4. Impersonal, disjointed customer experiences
Many retailers lack personalized customer insight – or even the ability to create it – because their customer data is isolated in disparate data islands across their organizations, confined by legacy infrastructure and short-term IT fixes. Replace these islands with a single view of each customer through digital identity management, which brings together data about buying habits and history across channels, from in store to online, across brands and business units.
A digital identity platform can combine all the associated identities of users, devices and connected things, so every department and every employee can respond to customers with an understanding of who they are and how they’ve interacted with the organization across platforms. By consolidating and utilizing the customer data collected at every purchase point, retailers can provide a truly personalized shopping experience on any platform, even in-store.
Delivering effective solutions to these four challenges through digital identity management will improve the user experience, keep data secure, and therefore increase customer loyalty and promote a positive brand image for the retailer.
As digital retail success becomes more about how well you know your customers in an omnichannel world, digital identity will be vital to ensuring purchasing habits and customer data are safe and sound with a trusted retail outlet.
-Jessica Morrison, Senior Director, Global Product Marketing at ForgeRock