Why retail is looking to biometrics for a better customer experience

With a biometric-based digital identity, retail operators can harness the benefits of a frictionless user experience while safeguarding their systems.


Even before the pandemic tore through every business’s playbook, many industries were in the midst of – or preparing to begin – their digital transformation journey. If nothing else, COVID-19 accelerated those journeys, forcing business leaders to rapidly adopt a digital-first strategy while supporting both their employees and customers.

For the retail sector, this disruption has brought with it massive opportunities to improve the customer experience. And biometrics is a major driver for this change.

Streamlining the experience for both customers and staff 

For many retail businesses, differentiation is key to success. In a hugely competitive industry, operators need to put all their energy into delivering a unique experience for their customers – one that’s convenient, efficient and personalised.

One way businesses are tackling this is by merging the face-to-face and digital experiences in store. Implementing digital identity technology can simplify and secure the retail experience, particularly for businesses that cater to commercial clients or customers who regularly make large, complex orders.

For customers, using a digital identity can improve their experience in a number of ways. Driven by biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition, a digital identity removes the need to set up and remember multiple accounts – each with their own username and password. It can also speed up transactions and personalise the experience because staff members can access relevant information about the customer, like previous transactions.

Retail businesses can also leverage the opportunities provided by digital identity technology, particularly when it comes to staff. Without time-consuming and insecure usernames and passwords to remember, staff members can be authorised on critical business systems much faster and more securely. If each individual is equipped with their own digital profile, it can also make transactions more secure, ensuring discounts are approved by the relevant person and making sure accounts aren’t switched when processing a large sale or overriding a command.  

Biometrics bolsters security 

It’s not just about differentiating customer and staff identities for a more convenient and efficient sales journey. For many retail operators – particularly large brands trying to juggle the challenges of in-store and online sales funnels – traditional operating procedures leave them open to greater instances of fraud.

Take, for example, a trade customer. They can walk into a store, say they’re there to collect goods for a particular company and then have those goods charged to the company account. Without digital identity verification, it’s difficult and time-consuming to cross reference whether that person is an employee of that particular company, posing a very real risk of goods being shifted out of a store by someone who’s not authorised on the company account.

With a biometric-based digital identity, there’s a level of trust that can’t be falsified. A list of authorised personnel can be attributed to a company account within the store’s CRM. When a representative comes to collect goods, a biometric like a fingerprint or facial recognition can be used to verify that they are one of the authorised account members, instantly alleviating the challenges around goods being taken fraudulently while giving the company peace of mind that they won’t be incorrectly charged for goods they never ordered.

Removing the frustrations of authentication 

Arguably the biggest challenge of creating a user-friendly and streamlined digital identity is in removing the most common frustrations. Consider all the modern adjustments to logins that have made them more secure – in addition to standard usernames and passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA) adds more friction to the login process. Users have to remember their login details and then receive an SMS or require an authentication key from a separate app. They’re jumping in and out of multiple apps just to access their account.

There are also growing concerns about the increasing number of cyberattacks targeting supply chains, financial data and business and customer logins. With a biometric-based digital identity, retail operators can harness the benefits of a frictionless user experience while also safeguarding their systems.

For more information about how biometric authentication can improve your retail experience, contact us today