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George’s marvellous medicine: Increase trade in foreign markets

Wednesday April 4 2012

During this year’s Budget, George Osborne was keen to emphasise that UK companies need to export more to the world’s growth economies. But age and identity verification specialist, Conor Murphy points out that there are a number of challenges that retailers in particular must surmount

During this year’s Budget, George Osborne was keen to emphasise that UK companies need to export more to the world’s growth economies. But age and identity verification specialist, Conor Murphy points out that there are a number of challenges that retailers in particular must surmount

 

“Last year,” Osborne told us, “Britain exported more to Ireland than it did to all of the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] nations, combined.” Clearly if Britain is to drag itself from the economical quagmire, then companies need to trade more with countries where business is booming.

 

In the UK, it appears that many retailers are awake to this simple truth. A recent survey commissioned by eBay suggests that online retailers are looking to emerging markets to help stimulate growth. The study found that over a third of online businesses (37%) expect BRIC countries to become more important in 2012.

 

Identifying foreign fraudsters

 

But Conor Murphy, head of retail for age and identity verification business GB Group, said that with this expansion come a number of challenges. “Culturally, there are significant differences, and retailers will need to tailor their approach to ensure that they are able to align with differing customer expectations. From Shanghai to Sao Paulo, Moscow to Mumbai, the way that customers engage with retailers, will vary considerably,” he said.

 

Murphy stressed that businesses need to understand an entirely new type of customer that may be based thousands of miles away. “First, they must be able to locate their customers, to be confident of delivering the best service possible,” he explained. “If you’re buying expensive items online, the last thing you want is for them to be delivered to the wrong address. Secondly they must be able to trust that the identity information customers use when making purchases is legitimate. This is crucial when seeking to fight identity fraud.

 

“In the UK, we cross-reference the information submitted online with data including electoral rolls, driving licence and passport information with many other readily available forms of data. But what about in countries where this information is not readily available?” Murphy responded, saying global identity management is enabling organisations to stay ahead of the game, ensuring that retailers seeking to break into global markets can do so with the confidence that the people they are trading with are, indeed, who they say they are.

 

Staying ahead of the trends

 

Online fraud is, unfortunately, on the up and with companies looking to break into new territories, this upward trend is unlikely to be reversed. “The key to combating online fraud is to understand how to spot fraudsters before the point of purchase,” Murphy continued. “Admittedly, in the online world these chaps are unlikely to be lurking in dark corners, with crow bars and bags labelled ‘swag’. But online criminals do look and behave very differently compared to normal consumers. They search, purchase and ring fence items while adding new cards and often their name, address and contact details are mismatched. There are a number of irregularities in their shopping patterns which set them apart from ordinary consumers.” By spotting these differences and profiling good versus bad customers, Murphy said online retailers can avoid being swindled.

 

It is also possible to identify fraudulent trends and behaviour by linking together identity verification, navigation and the purchasing process, according to Murphy. “Marrying behaviour with identity allows companies to uncover unusual patterns, so they can filter out the good from the bad,” he said. “However, it requires a lot of traffic to do this and is dependent on customer acquisition and site design. The solution must transcend borders, cover all data sources and emerging markets.”

 

The rise in online fraud is a considerable challenge that the online retailer needs to remain aware of. But it should not prohibit companies looking to exploit new revenue streams and grow their customer base beyond the challenging UK market. With the right measures in place, Murphy is confident there is no reason why online retailers can’t heed George’s advice.