Thales Blog

Respecting Privacy and Data Protection: World Consumer Rights Day

March 15, 2023

Ashvin Kamaraju Ashvin Kamaraju | Vice President of Engineering, Strategy & Innovation More About This Author >

For the last four decades, March 15th has marked World Consumer Rights Day - a campaign to raise global awareness about the needs and rights of consumers. Driven by Consumers International and accredited by the United Nations, World Consumer Rights Day is an opportunity to raise awareness for the respect and protection of all consumers, and to protest social injustices and market abuses.

Consumers are concerned about their digital rights

In an increasingly digitized world, consumers are more concerned about their digital rights than ever before. It’s estimated that more than 20% of retail sales will come from eCommerce in 2023 (rising to nearly 25% in 2026), illustrating the magnitude of digital transactions.

It’s not only consumers and retailers taking notice of this trend, of course. The rise in cyber incidents coupled with the increase in digital privacy regulation enactments worldwide has thrust data protection into the front of the mind of consumers. 21% of consumers stopped using the company that suffered a data breach, of whom 42% requested they delete their information.

Privacy and data protection are not the only things consumers expect from a retailer. They also demand exemplary customer experience, and most are not shy about taking their business elsewhere if their expectations go unmet.

How can retailers rise to meet these demands?

In a saturated market, businesses must work hard to find the sweet spot, balancing customer experience, cyber security, and compliance. Strengthening customer loyalty means offering a seamless shopping and transaction experience, high levels of data security, and staying abreast of regulatory measures in global and local markets.

Meeting modern needs requires a modern solution, and retailers must build simple, lawful, and highly-customized experiences. This is particularly true as more digital-native shoppers and challenger brands dominate the space.

Retailers need to get creative and implement practices to safeguard their customers and protect themselves from cyber threats. According to Thales Consumer Digital Trust Index 2022, 54% of consumers believe companies should be forced into mandatory data protection controls.

In response to these evolving trends, today’s top retailers rely on Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) as a key strategic initiative to create long-term value.

Why is CIAM key to protecting consumers’ rights?

When it comes to security, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. While no business is immune to the requirement for data privacy and robust security, all organizations have different needs, challenges, variables, and applicable regulations.

CIAM is a well-established branch of the IAM field designed to meet the needs of consumer-facing organizations. Businesses that serve digital consumers and buyers differ from the traditional workforce or business-to-employee (B2E) dynamics as they must collect, verify, transmit, authorize, and store information on a variety of end users across many domains.

Consumer user information is often submitted from questionable or unverifiable sources and collected for various purposes. eCommerce businesses may use end-user information to:

  • authorize a transaction
  • design marketing campaigns
  • meet anti-money laundering (AML) regulatory compliance requirements
  • create and store user accounts
  • and more

CIAM systems must also meet the unique need to store millions of identities and process large batches of daily transactions. With the 2018 EU GDPR enactment, merchants are required to collect clear consent from site visitors based on truthful disclosure of what data will be collected and how it will be used. Available CIAM solutions offer this capability along with dashboards to allow consumers to manage their information-sharing decisions.

Not limited to eCommerce, of course, CIAM platforms are used by non-profit and for-profit organizations. Some government agencies also leverage CIAM capabilities for government-to-citizen (G2C) identity management. While for-profit businesses may collect information related to transactions and marketing data, non-profits leverage CIAM for secure management of donor, volunteer, and service recipient information. Government agencies rely on CIAM to manage critical citizen identity information for the purposes of payments (taxes, fees, fines), registration (licenses, services), managing applications through approval cycles, and other requirements.

Improving the consumer user experience

Often a primary driver for deploying or upgrading CIAM solutions is the desire (or need) to improve the consumer experience. As business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions increasingly rely on digitized or automated processes, consumers are asked to do more in order to reap the benefits. Creating accounts and passwords is now a natural step in the ordering process and a sensible one when it comes to storing information on order history or for use on future transactions.

Creating accounts can be daunting for many end users who are grateful for sites offering smooth registration processes, seamless logins, and even options to sign in with social media or other sites (Google, for example) credentials. Alternative signup options reduce the account management burden for consumers and increase their satisfaction with a business.

So as a reminder on World Consumer Rights Day and in a digital-first era, keeping end users and their information safe is paramount and should not come at the expense of user experience. Businesses don’t need to choose between security and simplification, thanks to CIAM.

To learn more about CIAM in retail, read the OneWelcome eBookCIAM in retail: how brands can build shopping experiences that last.”