Retail companies to drive social identity adoption

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 06, 2013

retail social

Retail companies are increasingly using the Internet and more so the social media to strengthen their brands, generate customer engagement and drive sales. In the coming years, the trend will continue to surge with the emergence of newer technologies and concepts. Recently, research firm Gartner noted that social identity adoption will have a major impact on the practice of identity and access management (IAM) for retailers in 2013 and beyond.

According to Gartner, nearly 50 percent of all new retail customer identities will be based on and reflective of social networking profiles and usage by 2015, from the current 5 percent. This trend will further boost the adoption of social identity in retail. Ant Allan, research vice president at Gartner, explains that in order words authentication is turning out to be the most direct link between social networks for retail companies that are increasingly relying on e-commerce services and online stores.

Allan explains with an example. According to him, using ‘login with Facebook’ or other popular social networks will reduce friction thereby improving users’ experience of customer registration and subsequent login. In this case, for registration, the personal information that is needed can be imported from users’ social profiles. This will also reduce the hassle of form filling. Moreover, using a social network identity means users don’t have to remember rarely used passwords or endure convoluted password reset processes when they forget them.

Experts believe social identities are beneficial for the enterprise. “It has obvious that authentication reduces the number of abandoned registrations and logins. Moreover authentication makes it easier for customers to browse and buy, and will help retail companies attract and retain customers,” believes Vish Magapu, CTO at HomeShop18.

In fact, in the current online landscape, where security threats are on the rise, lack authentication for social network identities can cause more fraud. There should be additional controls when providing a retail portal access to sensitive data and monetary transactions, says Magapu, adding that many e-commerce companies are already having robust fraud detection and systems in place.

However Allan believes that social networking may offer better identity proofing than existing mechanisms. He foresees an increase in demand for specialized vendors who can support this use of social network identities. In the coming months, a number of traditional IAM vendors will also start to come up with web access and identity management tools.

“With retail increasingly adopting social, mobile and cloud, enterprises should be aware of multiple identity-related standards, as this will play a huge role in the future, and should pay specific attention to OpenID and OAuth, which will continue to be the key open standard for authorization,” says Anil Mohan, General Manager - Technology Practices at Indiatradezone.

Social network identities for authentication may not suit all organizations, cautions Gartner. Allan points out that besides retail, enterprises offering consumer-facing services as well as government agencies will also assess the potential benefits of social identity in the coming years.