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4 Authentication Tools That Increase Retail Conversion Rates

How to decrease abandoned carts by improving the simplicity and security of your user login process.

September 15, 2021

When consumers create e-commerce accounts, retailers can use their purchasing history to offer a more personalized shopping experience, which can boost retail conversion rates by up to 15%. However, it is tough for retailers to convince people to actually sign up — case in point, a 2021 DMI survey found that 24% of U.S. shoppers abandoned an order just because they were asked to make an account.

We surveyed over 8,000 consumers across six global markets (the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and Japan) to learn about the login experience they preferred and discovered widespread frustration with standard username/password (UP) login methods and businesses that fail to meet their ease-of-login expectations.

Our survey found five problems that stop consumers from signing up for an online account:

  1. Completing long login or sign-up forms (49%)
  2. Meeting minimum password requirements (47%)
  3. Entering private information (46%)
  4. Creating a new ID and password for every app or online service (43%)
  5. Verifying their account with one-time passwords (OTP) (23%)

Such frustrations lead to some of the worst security hygiene offenses, in particular, reuse of passwords across multiple accounts. Our survey found that 85% of international consumers reuse passwords, with 41% of them doing so “frequently or all the time” and 29% “sometimes”.

We asked consumers about the kind of login experience that would increase their chances of signing up for an account and found that adding certain authentication features would actually encourage them to do so. Our survey results indicated that, when available, consumers are more likely to complete the signup process if given more secure and easy-to-use login experiences.

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Below are four authentication tools that can improve your retail conversion rate by creating a more streamlined, secure login experience that satisfies users.

1. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA requires users to verify their identity in more than one way, which helps reduce the potential for unauthorized access to their data. For instance, a user may submit a password and then have to additionally verify a secondary account or device they own using a link sent to their email address or phone.

Consumers want to know that companies are protecting their data. In a 2020 survey with 1,000 North American consumers asked about privacy and data collection, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that 87% of respondents said they “would not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices.” MFA helps retailers provide consumers with greater confidence their data is protected because it blocks 99.9% of attacks.

While 49% of our surveyed consumers noted they were more likely to sign up for an online account if a business offered MFA, only 28% of surveyed businesses currently offered it as part of their login process. This discrepancy arises from the perception that the multiple steps in MFA mean extra hassle for both users and the business.

However, MFA is actually fairly easy to implement — many companies quickly adopted it when COVID-19 forced them to pivot to a remote workforce in 2020.

Company use example: According to Jordan Christensen, VP of Technology at ecobee, the smart device retailer wanted to protect consumers using ecobee’s home monitoring products, so they outsourced MFA implementation. His team was thrilled they were able to bring MFA to customers “without needing to reinvent the wheel.”

2. Biometrics

Biometrics uses measurable human traits, characteristics, or behaviors to confirm user identity. Fingerprint scans and facial recognition are two of the most common forms of biometrics, but there’s a growing list that includes options like voice, gait, and even DNA recognition.

Biometric traits are harder for hackers to fake than usernames and passwords, so they can help mitigate security concerns that could keep consumers from signing up. Consumers also like it because it’s faster than username/password authentication, and they don’t have to struggle with remembering login credentials.

While 46% of our surveyed consumers responded that they’d be more likely to log in if they could use biometrics, only 21% of the businesses we surveyed currently offered it — the biggest consumer-business gap we found in the study. Taking steps to close the gap between consumer expectations and current business practices will result in a better customer experience and better retail conversion rates.

Steven Rees-Pullman, SVP, International at Auth0, explains that it can be a “heavy lift” for businesses to develop biometric authentication in-house due to factors like limited bandwidth of IT employees or a lack of expertise with the process. To prevent diverting company resources and adding additional stress on already busy IT teams, some companies are instead choosing to outsource implementation to third-party providers that specialize in identity management and already have experience with biometrics.

Company use example: Consumer use of Microsoft’s biometric authentication tool Windows Hello, which lets users log in with a face, iris, or fingerprint scan instead of a password, jumped from 69.4% to 84.7% in 2019 alone. Additionally, Disney started experimenting with a facial recognition system at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park this year and was using fingerprint scanning to prevent ticket fraud before COVID-19 hit.

3. Social Logins

Social logins use existing login information from a social network provider that allows consumers to access a third-party website account without having to create another one. While the number of social providers keeps growing, staple networks include Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

Consumers prefer social logins to traditional UP authentication because they typically allow them to create and log in to accounts with just one click. As a result, social logins generally boost conversion rates by up to 20% — though some companies report seeing as high as 40%. Social logins also provide access to rich user data, allowing you to use more customized, targeted marketing with individual consumers.

Our survey found there wasn’t a huge gap between consumers and businesses with social logins, with 37% of consumers noting they were more likely to sign up with it and 31% of businesses currently offering it.

Social logins are typically connected to larger companies with established data privacy measures, but security can be compromised if users are reusing passwords. Martin Gontovnikas, former VP of Marketing at Auth0, says consumers using social logins should vary their passwords across platforms, and you can choose to boost the security strength of social logins by combining it with MFA.

Company use example: Kevin Ho, VP of Marketing for marketing agency WishPond, found that after featuring a social login option more prominently than UP authentication, the company saw an 8.5% increase in their conversions.

4. Passwordless

Passwordless authentication is exactly what it sounds like: confirming a consumer’s identity with something different from a password. Outside of biometrics, typical passwordless options include magic links, where a user is sent a link to log in after submitting their email, one-time codes, and push notifications.

With the average consumer having approximately 100 passwords, passwordless authentication reduces potential user frustration with logins. Not having traditional UP authentication also means increased data security, with Verizon noting in its 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report that stolen login credentials are the main way organizations get hacked. Next Move Strategy Consulting published a report this month predicting that the global passwordless authentication market will grow by 29.1% by 2030.

Even so, passwordless authentication came in last in our survey in terms of both consumer likelihood to sign up with it (34%) and business use (20%). Traditionally, IT infrastructure at large companies has been set up for UP authentication, so it can be a complex process for businesses to implement passwordless tech on a wide scale.

According to Cybersecurity Insiders’ 2021 “The State of Passwordless Authentication” report, many organizations that have chosen to implement passwordless authentication have done so because of its proven security, ease of use, and ability to “help consumer-facing businesses increase revenue.” Microsoft also reported that more than 150 million users were using passwordless authentication on Windows in May 2020.

Company use example: Kunal Chakraborty, Global Vice President for Customer Experience and Digital at GrandVision, the optical retailer, said the company made “the checkout process as customer-friendly as possible” by having a third-party provider implement passwordless authentication — accounts are created just by clicking a box. As a result, GrandVision saw a boost in their conversions by up to 54%.

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Authentication Technologies Enhance User Experience

While it may seem like adding a new element to your login box would drive consumers away, it’s actually the opposite. By using one of the authentication tools above to provide consumers with a simple, secure login experience, you can satisfy users and continue to strengthen their ties to your brand with personalized marketing — strengthening your retail conversion rate in the process.

Auth0 makes implementing the authentication technologies above simple — learn more about Auth0’s platform here.

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