The theory of shopping as ‘retail therapy’ is far more pronounced in a world dominated with the ubiquity of mobile. The portability of such devices makes them compelling windows into experiences that were never possible previously. Ease of access, superior user experience and ultimately a way to kill time for many millennials; retailing is indeed a therapy. Mobile users, who window-shop on e-commerce apps to kill boredom, end up purchasing products. Push-notifications, offers, a customised feed for each individual are all ancillary functions that help personalise experiences for a user. In all, apps and mobile browsers are growing rapaciously to capture mind share. To personalise these experiences, e-commerce companies are hungry for data. Are you a male, female? How often do you check for clothing? This data helps marketers serve better products to a consumer.
Only a few of us are aware of the fact that’s staring right at us. We all grant direct access to our personal and sensitive data to a dozen or more e-commerce companies. Ever signed into a food delivery or shopping app with your Facebook account? Now, your data breach just got compounded. If you lose your Facebook password to hackers, you are likely to compromise your dozen other accounts. The interlinking of these sites helps consumers get rid of the tedious process of signing up. But it also presents a case for vulnerability, should any one of the companies fail to protect their data.
We forget that with every new log-in and online transaction made, we are one step closer to security hazards. No wonder, nearly 75% of retailers are investing in threat management, vulnerability and data security solutions, according to a survey report of retailers by Happiest Minds Technologies.
Omnichannel security— The trap
As marketers, we come up with newer technologies to be incorporated in the process of customer engagement. Be it festive shopping, or the peak sale season, customers are constantly provided with multiple options to shop online and offline. How many of us eagerly scout for ‘flat discounts’ or ‘upto 50% off’ in retail stores and e-commerce sites? To consistently provide the best of the best, industry players have to reinvent and reshape multiple platforms. In fact, 40% of the multi-channel retailers we spoke to said that they have enabled customers to engage with brands in a true omnichannel manner, where they provide digital experience in physical store while being online.
Such technological advancements have helped retailers explore this industry to target offline customers through online mediums. As a matter of fact, 33% retailers surveyed in the report, strongly agree that they have the capability to recognise in-store customer when he/she shops online.
Today, there are many tools that help brands understand their customers in order to sell personalised products. This information is either stored in the form of Big Data analytics or via feedback forms at the physical stores. There is so much competition to personalise products in the retail industry that customers have the option of switching from channel to channel according to convenience. This rush to offer newer technologies has increased the risk of security and compliance in this industry. On one side, we expand into different platforms, while on the other, security issues grow as a haunting shadow.
Connecting the dots
Omnichannel retailing has definitely put IT in the spotlight, but it has equally posed high security risks for the retailers. Since hackers have the capability to build malwares to device-specific, the retail industry must manage risking sensitive data. For this, it is crucial to protect the multiple channels that are exposed.
This is an ever-growing issue. One cannot permanently avoid security threats as hackers invent newer malwares on an everyday basis to attack the industry. But, we can definitely control the risk of being exposed. We need to start implementing IT solutions that enable protection. Also, retailers need to be prepared with the right strategy to ensure zero or minimum loss.