3 Key Steps to Provide Secure and Seamless Online Experiences
A recent survey revealed that more than half of all consumers (56 percent) plan to continue shopping primarily online post-pandemic, compared to just 5 percent who say they will shop only in-person afterward. In fact, data showed that half as many people shopped inside stores last Black Friday compared to 2019, while, in stark contrast, Cyber Monday 2020 was the biggest digital shopping day in U.S. history.
In addition to the lasting impact COVID-19 will have on our workplaces and society, the pandemic has expedited retailers’ need for a steadfast online strategy. However, many retailers, especially small businesses, are still not prepared for the influx of online shopping, and consumers' tolerance for poor digital experiences is lower than ever before. Consumer preferences are evolving, and many will not hesitate to switch apps, products or services for another offering that delivers a better user experience. It's critical that all businesses, regardless of size, offer seamless online experiences, from the account login stage to post-purchase. Below are three key steps retailers can take to ensure they provide customers with a frictionless and secure online experience:
1. Simplify Your Brand’s Online Registration and Login Process, or Risk Losing Customers
More than one-third of consumers warn that a difficult login process will cause them to cancel their account or delete an app, and 32 percent said they would look to another service for a better experience. Retailers must provide an easy and effortless experience, starting with registration, to ensure loyalty and reduce costly customer churn. A 2020 report showed three-quarters of U.S. consumers rated getting locked out of an account as frustrating, and more than half reported feeling irritated when forgetting a username or password or resetting a password. This means it's crucial to ensure your business’ customer registration and login process is simple to navigate, frictionless and secure.
Today, many companies are shifting online services and apps to passwordless or even usernameless login methods. Rather than relying on traditional login credentials that can be a hassle for customers to remember, many brands are turning to multifactor authentication (MFA), which sends a text or email to a secondary device for confirmation, or even biometric authentication, which uses Face ID on smartphones or fingerprints to sign users into their accounts. In fact, Gartner predicts that 60 percent of large and global enterprises will leverage passwordless methods in over 50 percent of use cases by 2022.
Innovation is available around digital registration processes as well. Companies need to balance the need to ensure only valid users register for their systems, with reducing friction that would cause cart abandonment or guest checkouts. The registration process can be personalized, allowing trusted users a streamlined experience while more concerning users are asked additional questions to ensure their validity.
2. Make Online Experiences Easy to Navigate for All Shoppers, Not Just Millennials and Gen Z
Today, all brick-and-mortar stores need to have an online presence to survive. Regardless of the size of the business, the recipe for a successful digital experience is the same: your website and/or app need to be easy to navigate.
Recent data found that many consumers ages 65 and older have embraced their new digital lifestyles during the pandemic, with 31 percent reporting they plan to only shop online even after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted. So, how do you make sure that people of all ages can easily place orders online? Ensure the order process is easy, quick and seamless. Setting up an account should be a simple step. All the information your customer needs to know to make a purchase, such as product photos, specifications and reviews, should be accessible on one page. The checkout process shouldn't take more than a few clicks, and then let shoppers decide if they want to opt into emails in one click after checking out.
To go the extra mile, brands such as Ralph Lauren, Sam’s Club, and Macy’s created holiday activations on their websites to provide customers with more seasonal cheer though virtual stores or events with the convenience and safety of online shopping.
3. Keeping Consumer Data and Identities Safe Needs to Be a Top Priority
Four out of five global data breaches are caused by weak or stolen passwords. Once a data breach occurs, it's tough to rebuild consumers’ trust. Once breached, privacy promises can become meaningless. Personal data, such as email addresses, phone numbers and private messages, can be leveraged by cybercriminals once it's compromised for credit card and even identity fraud. In today's connected world, retailers need to view customer and employee identity management as an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to battling data breaches. Additionally, 70 percent of consumers said preventing their data from being sold to third parties is a top priority when considering app features, therefore, being transparent about how your business manages customer data is also key.
To mitigate these rising risks, retailers can leverage modern identity and access management (IAM) tools to verify shoppers’ identities by prompting additional steps for validation such as MFA or two-factor authentication (2FA). By deploying these added security measures, abnormal behaviors will be immediately detected, creating a barrier between cybercriminals and users’ data.
COVID-19: A Major Catalyst for Retail’s Digital Transformation
Across the globe, nearly half of consumers plan to use more online services after the pandemic, showing COVID-19's lasting impact on consumer behavior. Given this new reality, businesses should be prepared to respond to the rising demand for online services and apps, especially the retail industry. Retailers that don't adjust their digital experience strategies to address this shift in consumer behavior risk falling short of consumer expectations and will potentially miss out on vital revenue opportunities. Therefore, it's important for retailers to implement new technologies to improve consumers’ online experiences, protect their data, and streamline the registration and login process.
Ben Goodman is senior vice president at ForgeRock, a digital identity platform.
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