Different Retail Personalities, Different Security Needs

Retail security is a shifting target. Just as point-of-sale security seems to be shored up, a leak invariably pops up in mobile wallets, or in-store digital browsing, or omnichannel systems. For retailers to succeed, they must learn to master the art of split focus. As two recent reports on what matters most to retail professionals show us, it’s easier said than done.

A recent survey of 200 retail industry professionals in attendance at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Conference and Expo, “The Big Show,” shows that 75 percent cite in-app payment security as the most important feature of a mobile wallet offering.

The survey, conducted and released by ACI Worldwide, offers key findings in EMV readiness, mobile apps, mobile wallets and digital channel sales. Perhaps most interesting were the insights uncovered around in-store online browsing, which ranked second behind online/domestic shopping as the top retail channel for the retailers surveyed.

“The proliferation of retail digital channels demonstrates the trend that ‘clicks upstage bricks,’ but even consumers shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly using in-store browsing capabilities, which puts the power of information in sales associates’ and consumers’ hands,” said Lynn Holland, vice president and product line manager for ACI Worldwide. “Regardless of the channel, our survey results demonstrate that payment security is a core area of concern, particularly around tokenization and point-to-point encryption.”

Another interesting finding was the prioritization of loyalty/rewards and mobile ordering, not only in mobile apps but as integrated features of mobile wallets as well. This points to a winning strategy for mobile wallet developers lying in the well-worn path of retail mobile app development.

At nearly the same time the ACI study was being released, research firm Boston Retail Partners (BRP) was working to unveil its own set of fresh insights into the industry and its ever-changing attitudes toward technology and digital security. The second study backs up the findings of the ACI report as it pertains to the importance of omnichannel capabilities for retailers. However, the BRP report shows a much lower level of concern around security among retailers.

As Chain Store Age reported, the Boston Retail Partners’ 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey shows that an overwhelming majority (85 percent) of respondents state that having a unified commerce platform, which seamlessly operates across all commerce channels, is top priority for them.

In contrast, only 38 percent of respondents mentioned payment security as a main concern. This marks a significant decrease from the 2015 findings, which saw 63 percent of respondents stating it was a top priority. One possible explanation, which Chain Store Age posits: The switch to EMV and the attention it brought to updating in-store systems most likely (and rather ironically) drove this reduction in prioritization of overall security.

Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, commented on the report: “Saddled with legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment, retailers have scrambled to cobble things together in attempts to deliver the omnichannel capabilities customers expect. Retailers need to invest in infrastructure, networks and service-oriented architecture (SOA) layer and do it right. The risk of losing customers due to disappointing shopping experiences caused by a flawed omnichannel architecture is deadly, and that is why ‘real’ unified commerce is retailers’ top priority for 2016.”

What these surveys lack in consensus, they make up for with insights into the state of the industry and a potential warning sign that retailers’ attention is split between many demanding (digital) masters at the moment.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.