10427 The Retailer Autumn 2018_Final Draft Pages

Identity Management in Retail: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Doug Norton-Bilsby Global VP of Retail and Consumer Products ForgeRock

WHY THE RIGHT IDENTITY SOLUTION SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF EVERY RETAILERS TO DO LIST... Never has it been more important for retailers to build for the future. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, visits to online retailers are set to increase. Last year, the week to Cyber Monday saw a year-on-year growth of 6% in the number of retail websites visits, and this growth is expected again this year. Meanwhile, a decline in high street spending and a rise in store foreclosures is continuing to become the dominant narrative of the retail industry. As consumers spend more online, retailers need to transform the way they do business and, more importantly, how they interact with their consumer. Digital transformation of retail is underway, but with competition online fiercer than ever, the lack of consideration for identity management continues to be a problem that inhibits retailers’ ability to deliver a first-rate online customer experience. Identity is the Solution We all know that a good customer journey equates to retail success, but a good journey online is really dependent on how well the customer’s digital identity is managed. How is their identity authenticated? How is their identity data used? And how is it stored? The way retailers identify and steer customers through their individual online journey is key to business, and the best way to achieve that is through a digital identity management process. With so many retail consumers now relying on online platforms to make their purchases, these platforms must provide a secure, private and easy to use process that further facilitates their journey, not hinders it. If digital identities are securely stored and used in the right way, then the consumer is presented with not only an intuitive, user-friendly interface, but one that is personalised to their own needs and requirements. Ease of use, when combined with personalisation, is synonymous with a better experience, and a better experience as we all know, means a returning and faithful customer. Yet, in order to achieve demands of the ever-popular online customer journey, today’s retailers are facing a new question surrounding the process of an identity management solution. Processes of Identity Management in Retail The typical response to identity management that we see in retail can be surmised into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. A good process for digital identity management

would be a single sign-on to a secure platform, with an easy to use, personalised interface that spans into managing preferences, complies with data privacy legislation and expands into combining customer identity, device identity and their interactions with IoT in store. Imagine, for example, an integrated online page and mobile app that consumers can use to purchase retail products. Items that are bought via the web-page are communicated to the app, and then both platforms could also be linked to a loyalty card. The identity stored across both platforms can then be used to push notifications to a customer’s mobile phone when their regular purchases are on offer. These notifications could also be linked to location services, and connected to retail beacons, meaning that when the customer is near a physical shop, their mobile phone informs them of this offer or ‘personalised deal’. Sounds convenient? That is exactly why this is a good process and use of identity management. Let us now turn our attention to a bad process. A multi sign in, where the consumer would need to input their password multiple times, or worse, need to remember different passwords. Perhaps there would also be lots of different platforms that aren’t integrated, meaning there is an overall lack of a connected customer journey and personalisation and ultimately a lack of ease. The demand for smarter identity solutions has seen, albeit in extreme cases, retailers creating their own identity management platforms. In today’s landscape however, these organisations end up reinventing the wheel so to speak, creating a one-point identity solution that requires their software architects to spend more time attempting to solve issues as and when they arise rather than focusing on the bigger picture - the consumer experience. The majority of bad processes though, would be ones that just about provide an identity solution, but in reality do not do enough for the consumer. The third and final category is simply ugly. Disregarding all processes as a form of strategy entirely ignores the need for any form of digital identity management. With no identity storage or management, the online experience becomes a laborious process for the consumer. If the purchases cannot be quick and easy, they won’t be made. The more that retailers ignore this issue, the less likely they will be able to cash in on the 2.9 billion visits to UK retail websites. It’s clear that the key difference between a good process and one that is bad, or even ugly, is how the management of identity is performed.

22 | autumn 2018 | the retailer

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