Retail technology requires businesses to increase in-store mobile security

By Karin Kelley

| Retail

The holidays are already here, and retailers are facing new challenges in our multi-channel world, particularly in driving foot traffic into brick-and-mortar locations. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices during their purchasing journeys, both in-store and at home. These shoppers are going mobile, and businesses looking to stay competitive simply must implement new retail technology to enable them.

Though modern retail technology helps businesses cater to customers in the personalized and convenient ways they have come to expect, there are major security issues that come along with the transition. All too often, news outlets report on large-scale security breaches that compromise the customer data businesses are now collecting to provide a better experience, and consumers are not very forgiving in these circumstances. The industry is also facing pressure from regulatory agencies that will impose harsh fines if they aren’t taking the proper precautions to secure customer data from malicious hackers.

In-store mobile retail technology

Today’s customers have multiple channels to do their shopping, but they are increasingly using mobile technology while in a brick-and-mortar store. In response, retailers have been leveraging mobile to enable customers in many ways, including the following:

  • Implementing self-service kiosks that let users research and compare products online and on the floor.
  • Arming sales associates with tablets so they can access personalized customer information in real-time, as well as available inventory across all channels.
  • Installing iBeacon technology to guide customers to products on shelves from their devices.
  • Deploying mobile POS systems that can speed up checkout times considerably.
Sign up for our newsletter
Stay on top of the latest mobile news and insights.

Securing retail technology

While modern mobile technology is enabling retailers to serve their customers in more convenient and personalized ways in-store, it also opens up new avenues for cybercriminals to compromise data. To thwart this real threat, retailers must take several precautions regarding the following:

  • Data collection practices
    Retailers are constantly collecting data about consumers’ product preferences, shopping history and payment card information — and cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to exploit it. To protect that data, security professionals need to determine how much they actually need to collect, how long they should keep it, which applications and users have access to it and which systems are involved in processing the data on the network.
  • Mobile security
    While retailers and customers alike are using mobile devices and applications to provide, collect and process data, retailers need to implement mobile device management, network security and end-to-end encryption technologies and develop mobile applications with security built in from the ground up. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, it’s vital to continue to test and revamp policies and procedures.
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
    Retailers are increasingly taking advantage of connected devices to collect, store and transmit data in real-time through RFID systems, in-store scanners and Bluetooth technology to streamline the shopping experience for individual users. This can be extremely convenient and useful for both the retailer and consumer, but if the infrastructure that supports the IoT is not built securely, cybercriminals can also find this large amount of data helps their own nefarious purposes.

As e-commerce continues to gain traction, retailers need to retool in order to provide the same experience consumers have come to expect online in the store. After all, customers do like to come into stores to see and feel products out. Mobility is turning out to be a key driver in the industry and has many clear advantages for all parties involved. However, opening up these channels also creates a wider threat landscape from which retailers must protect themselves and their customers, both online and in the store.

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

Other Articles by Karin Kelley
See All Posts