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In data we trust: Building customer confidence in a digital economy

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By Richard Menear, CEO, Burning Tree

In the modern, digital world, online shopping is becoming the norm within the retail market. Accelerated by the pandemic, the UK’s proportion of online retail sales soared to the highest on record, reaching 35.2% in January 2021. And with digitisation continuing to evolve the online shopping experience, it is unlikely that we will see a shift back to pre-pandemic norms anytime soon.

So, what does this mean for business-customer relationships in the digital era? Without the experience of in-person shopping, online user experience has a strong influence over consumers’ buying decisions. As a result, brands must define their reputation as trustworthy and reputable providers by shaping their processes around customers’ online behaviours.

‘Digital trust’ is defined as the confidence users have in the ability of processes, people and technology to create a secure digital world, dividing the dependable services from the corrupt ones.

In a world where most people understand that not every online service is legitimate, establishing digital trust helps users decide which companies will keep their personal information safe. So, how can businesses gain the trust of their digital customers — and what will happen if they do not?

Why should businesses build digital trust?

When people make a purchase or interact with an online retailer, they demonstrate their digital trust in that business. However, the quality of the service is no longer defined by how an interface looks or how easy it is to navigate.

Customer expectations have evolved with digitisation. Driven by rapid device proliferation and improved internet connectivity, the modern online shopper expects to encounter seamless digital processes from sign-in to purchase — particularly since the pandemic, which increased the number of people using online services regularly.

Today, customers are more aware of how their data is being used and stored and base their shopping behaviours on a provider’s ability to ensure security. The Okta Digital Trust Index (2021), which surveyed 13,000 office workers, found that 88% of people in the UK were unlikely to purchase from a brand they did not trust. And according to a recent report on the 20 most-trusted UK retailers, 58% of consumers are highly conscious about their safety when shopping online, citing identity theft as a significant concern.

Plus, with most businesses working online in some capacity, the government is introducing more regulations for using technology to use and manage digital identities. A new digital ‘trust framework‘ was announced earlier this year to make sharing digital identities between users easier and safer, allowing more control over what personal information is available to different services and organisations.

There are several ways businesses can generate a loyal digital customer base — from generating positive customer reviews to providing excellent customer service. But when it comes to digital trust, three main factors make people in the UK more likely to trust a brand: its service reliability, good security policies and quick response times — all of which can be facilitated by successful digital transformation.

Building digital trust with digital transformation

Cyber security is an essential consideration for organisations undergoing digital transformation, which involves implementing technology to automate processes, encourage a more cyber-aware business culture, increase security and refine the user experience. As such, retailers must ensure data is protected from a cyber breach to remain compliant and secure digital customers — and keep them coming back.

According to Okta’s survey, 47% of UK people permanently stopped using a firm’s services after hearing of a data breach. As such, IT professionals are harnessing advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning to support existing traditional threat models and automate risk management to reduce the overall probability of falling victim to a cyber attack.

Many organisations are also taking a ‘zero-trust’ approach to cyber security, which means that no activity within a network is trusted straight away. Every device, service, application or user connected by a network must go through a robust identity and access management process to gain a least privileged level of trust and associated access entitlements. As such, implementing a zero-trust framework helps bolster cyber security and minimises the likelihood of a breach.

Effective customer identity and access management (CIAM) solutions will also enable organisations to capture and interpret customer profile data to inform customised user experiences whilst controlling secure access to services and applications. A robust CIAM solution may involve implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), self-service account management and single sign-on (SSO) to minimise friction, increase engagement and develop trust in business processes over time.

Customer self-service is the secret to surviving this year’s holiday shopping season

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By Smart Tribune

E-commerce retailers must offer exceptional customer service experiences to succeed in what’s likely to be the biggest online holiday shopping season ever.

There is no question that 2020 has been a year of unexpected twists and turns. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything we know about typical consumer habits on its head. But it has also proven just how powerful the e-commerce ecosystem is for keeping the economy humming in spite of all the headwinds that businesses have faced this year.

As we head into the holidays, with fears mounting around COVID-19’s anticipated “second wave,” it’s clear that the upcoming shopping season will be quite different from any in recent memory. In fact, Deloitte anticipates e-commerce holiday retail to grow between 25% to 35% from November 2020 through January 2021. This means one thing: online retailers must be prepared to anticipate a sharp increase in demand. Customer self-service is the best way to ensure that no shopping cart gets abandoned this holiday season.

For both online and brick-and-mortar retailers, the holiday shopping season is one of the most important times of the year. The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, for better or worse, has added even more pressure for retailers to succeed this year—especially knowing that brick-and-mortar retail sales this year, in the U.S. alone, are predicted to drop by 14%.

This has raised the stakes significantly for online retail to make up for these losses and has changed how both retailers and consumers are approaching the upcoming holiday shopping season. Based on the latest trends data from the National Retail Federation, 74% of retailers believe that consumers will spread out their holiday shopping across several months, making this a longer shopping season than we’ve seen in years past. A study conducted by Radial suggests that 39% of shoppers will begin their holiday shopping as early as October while only 30% will wait until the more traditional Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping weekend… Continue reading

Shop Direct launches WhatsApp-style service platform…

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Shop Direct has applied a conversational user interface (CUI) technology to its service offering by launching ‘Very Assistant’ for customers to find answers to their questions in a WhatsApp–style chat environment.  

The owner of,, and has initially made the automated platform available via the iOS app, and claims the technology makes the user journey even simpler for customer service questions, allowing people to easily interact with representatives in a format that they are adept at using on a day-to-day basis. 

Developed in-house by Shop Direct’s multi-award-winning eCommerce team, Very Assistant works by asking the app user if they need any help. The customer is then presented with a sequence of questions and multiple action options, which the customer taps within the chat environment. The customer’s answers enable the platform to instantly serve up the information they are looking for. 

Jonathan Wall, eCommerce director at Shop Direct said: “This fully native platform is squarely focused on what our customers need. It’s delivered through our app because that’s where they want to have questions answered. It’s also the best place for us to collect feedback and constantly improve Very Assistant. 

“We think this new technology will simplify our user journey, improve satisfaction, and help to boost efficiency in our customer service operation. It’s also the first step towards ‘natural language’, AI-driven CUI – which is something we’re hugely excited about.” 

Customers can use Very Assistant to make a payment on their account, check their payment dates, track an order, confirm that recent payments have been processed and request a reminder of their account number.