In the past two years, Australian consumers have well and truly realised the benefits and ease of online shopping. With 64% of Australians shifting to online shopping during the pandemic, customers are becoming more purpose-driven and discerning when it comes to their online shopping habits.

Retailers, in turn, are exploring hyper-personalised offerings and hybrid shopping options to reward existing customers and bring in new ones. Yet as we seemingly emerge into the new normal, the hangover from the pandemic lingers. This leaves retailers facing rising customer expectations in the face of supply chain disruption, labour shortages and tighter margins.

With cookies disappearing on Google in 2022, and users becoming more vigilant about online security, retailers need to utilise all the tools at their disposal to bring the same level of customer service to online offerings as in-store.

The answer to better online experiences could lie in digital identity management. More than just a security offering, identity management services can support retailers in building their best offerings online, and may just unlock a suite of new options for retailers to discover. Here’s how.

Building a holistic single view of the customer

With technology continuing to increase its impact on the digital shopping experience, retailers have access to more user data than ever before. But while the amount of data collected continues to grow, knowing how and where to target customers in their shopping journey remains a key challenge for retailers.

To ensure retailers meet ever-increasing customer expectations, identity management solutions offer holistic overviews of customers at every stage of the customer journey. Insight into cart additions, searches, purchase history, time-of-day usage and more means retailers can create bespoke offerings at the most appropriate times.

Supporting customers through targeted offerings creates a better user experience, and builds a customer-centric approach to ecommerce. But with identity management, this doesn’t stop at the website. With the growth of omnichannel offerings and hybrid shopping experiences, retailers can often struggle to offer the same level of customer service across all channels.

By leveraging identity solutions, retailers can create a seamless experience for their customers across channels by providing key customer offerings and access options at all times. The holistic offering shows users that retailers are paying attention to the needs of customers, helping to build loyal customer relationships.

Reducing points of friction

Convenience is overwhelmingly the biggest reason users turn to ecommerce. As a result, users expect every step of their journey to be seamless, including the registration process.

From a customer point of view, long registration forms or cumbersome ‘forgot my password’ processes are frustrating and often challenging. As a result, customers end up abandoning the experience altogether, joining the 70% of Australian consumers who have abandoned their digital shopping cart.

To avoid this, digital identity management platforms can create unique  streamlined processes which put the control back in users hands. Additionally, offerings such as social media integration or biometric options across platforms mean users also have greater autonomy when it comes to choosing their experience, without compromising safety.

By investing in more efficient solutions, which are built with the customer in mind, retailers can benefit from giving users back the autonomy they crave. With users becoming more vigilant about online safety, giving control back to customers helps to build trust and increase brand loyalty, particularly in a world marred by increasing cyberattacks.

Combating cyber threats

With personal data often stored by retailers to create ease of use when checking out, there’s a responsibility to keep that data secure. But with an increase of retailers experiencing compromised records, are retailers equipped to do so?

While encrypted websites and secure certificates have a hand in protecting data, utilising third-party security and identity management platforms can be useful in mitigating threats. Adding additional points of contact between personal information and cybercriminals is never a bad idea, and with separately located systems, the risk of criminals accessing compromised information is lessened.

Implementing a simple multi-factor authentication (MFA) system through an identity management platform can also help to keep users secure online. MFA removes the need for passwords and introduces secondary authenticators or biometric security options, putting customers at the centre of their own digital safety.

With online safety becoming increasingly important to customers, building protections means retailers not only put their customers first to ensure the security of their personal data; they also reduce friction points in the process.

The expectations of customers are only continuing to grow alongside developments in new ecommerce services, and the pressure is on retailers to meet them. In digital identity management, retailers have a tool at their disposal to help them exceed expectations. While the role of the retailer is going to change over time, it’s clear that data management and access is here to stay. With data to support retailers in building strong customer relationships, the ability to provide an unmatched level of (digital) customer service is no longer out of reach. Digital identity management could be the secret to unlocking the future of the perfect customer experience.

James Ross is regional vice president for Australia and New Zealand of ForgeRock.