• Martin Tyley, Partner |
3 min read

In the run up to December, shops along the high street are normally full of early Christmas shoppers, looking to buy something for a loved one, or to simply treat themselves during a long winter. This year, however, social distancing requirements and capacity limits have put a dampener on retail; even where consumers are able to shop, they don’t know for sure the next time they’ll see their relatives to give them their presents.

The switch to e-commerce

I’m speaking daily with my clients on the challenges and opportunities that remote digital working have given us in 2020.  But consumers too have had to change and no longer have the choice of how to shop some for the first time, to e-commerce channels, and substituting in-person entertainment for digital services provided online. Our recent KPMG Black Friday survey indicates that since the start of the pandemic, nearly 60 percent of British consumers have increased the amount of online shopping they do. Part of the shift is driven simply by safety concerns – nearly one third of shoppers feel unsafe shopping in public and would rather stay at home.

We believe this switch will become a more permanent fixture of our post-pandemic reality. Consumers exploring online retail for the first time are getting used to it; and for those that have always shopped online at least part of the time, it’s become a standard part of their routine. Whilst we have seen that switch happen, unfortunately, so have cyber criminals and fraudsters. 

Greater use of digital, greater cyber threat

In the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s worth businesses reminding their customers (and employees) of the heightened fraud, scam and cybercrime threat. It’s heartening to see from our survey results that over three quarters of Brits think they would be able to recognise a Black Friday email scam, with just less than 70 percent saying they would recognise an SMS or website based scam. That still leaves a lot of room for scammers to operate in, yes, but it’s an improvement from what the stats might have been in previous years, and it demonstrates the pace at which consumers are getting used to safely navigating the digital commerce landscape. 

As consumers begin to rely on digital channels, they also begin to associate organisations’ brands with their digital security. That’s reflected in our survey results – 50 percent of respondents stated they would be less likely to use an online retailer who had been hacked previously or had suffered a data breach. Among younger respondents, aged 18 to 34, the percentage is 40 percent, perhaps reflecting the acute understanding they have that cyber criminals are everywhere, and that businesses cannot be expected to defend against them perfectly. But maybe I’m speculating. The only certainty is that consumers in the digital age expect businesses to be able to respond well to cyber-attacks, IT incidents and data breaches, and protect them from fraudsters and the perpetrators of financial crime. And as businesses explore how to digitise existing service lines and create whole new digital commerce channels, resilience has to be built in by design. 

How secure is your digital commerce?

Many can still do more. You need to be able to show how visible your security is. Do your customers feel safe navigating your site? Are they being shown adverts that look like they may be scams? If so, do you need to more strongly consider customer security when vetting ads for your sites? How clearly are you telling your customers what you are doing to protect their data? Most of all – do customers feel as if you’re looking out for them, and keeping them away from fraudulent transactions where possible? 

In the financial sector, regulators have already begun placing responsibilities on banks to ensure their customers are kept safe from fraudulent businesses, and are aware of fraud risks.

Today, industries can go further to prove they care about their customers’ digital security. By far the best approach to this is collaborating across a whole industry ecosystem, bringing in partners in regulatory bodies, suppliers and even competitors to share threat intelligence, hunt down common threats, and “actively defend” shared customers. It can often be one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve security objectives, and limit fraud in the industry. 

Pulling together seems to be a feature of these troubled times, and it can certainly benefit everyone when it comes to dealing with cyber threats and fraud, in some rather unknown territory.