I recently had an interaction with one of my online service providers. In order to resolve my issue, the service representative required my 4-digit pin. What 4-digit pin? The one I created ten years ago when I signed up for this service? Even the rep was stumped. After testing out several potential pins (none of which worked), we were both thoroughly frustrated. And all I could think was: there has to be a better way. There is!
Online shopping is as commonplace today as going to the department store was 30 years ago. When done right, e-commerce is quick, convenient, and even fun. We can find nearly anything we want in the thousands of online shops clamouring for our attention. However, a bad user experience can spoil it all. And one of the worst e-commerce experiences is finding everything you needed (and didn’t need!) and not being able to complete your purchase because you’ve forgotten your password. And as annoying as this is for customers, it’s that much more frustrating for online retailers who end up losing customers and profits.
Consumers believe in the benefits of on-device authentication
In October 2020, the FIDO Alliance conducted a survey of consumers in the UK, Germany, France, and the USA to learn more about customer frustrations with e-commerce. Its findings offered revealing insight into customer willingness and readiness to adopt on-device authentication solutions. In fact, 66 per cent of those surveyed believed that on-device authentication was quicker to use and 64 per cent believed it was easier. But even more interesting for retailers was new insight into customer behaviour and perception when shopping online. 60 per cent of those surveyed aborted a purchase because they could not find or remember their password, and 58 per cent believe retailers who offer on-device authentication are vested in the customer experience.
The numbers speak for themselves. Online retailers looking to keep customers satisfied and shopping need to change how they complete the check-out process. And the first step is to transition from passwordless authentication to on-device authentication. But what’s the best approach?
Multi-factor authentication and biometrics
Online retailers need to strike the perfect balance between security and comfort. Security measures that are cumbersome and time-consuming discourage customers from completing a purchase. However, payment processes with lax security protocols are not only a deterrent for customers, but they also pose a significant risk to retailers as they encourage fraudulent practices and data theft. That’s why it’s key to make sure customers are who they claim to be. MFA is the best way to achieve this.
Multi-factor authentication (also two-factor authentication) requires customers to provide two or more pieces of identifying information to confirm their identity. These can be any combination of something they have (e.g a credit card), something they know (e.g a PIN), somewhere they are (e.g. geolocation), and something they are (e.g a fingerprint). The more identifying pieces of information a customer provides, the more secure the transaction.
And facilitating this transition to MFA is another phenomenon: a rapid rise in mobile commerce. Whether through websites or the retailers’ own apps, more and more consumers are turning to their mobile devices to shop online. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers since mobile devices already come equipped to provide the best form of identification possible: biometric features. Since many mobile phone users are already accustomed to unlocking their devices with their pre-stored fingerprint or face scan, using a biometric identifier to verify their identity for online purchases is an intuitive and simple solution. And the level of security biometrics offers is undeniable.
The customer is always right
In a market saturated with products and services, the best way to stand apart is by creating the best possible customer experience. In the realm of e-commerce, this means a simple and safe payment process. If the password is the primary obstacle to online shopping, then the best solution is no password. Offering MFA and biometric identification is a sure way to create a user-friendly and mobile-optimized shopping experience. And the easiest way to guarantee that customers keep coming back for more!
 Fido Alliance, New Research Reveals Consumer Frustrations with Online Retail, October 2020