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Macy’s exec: Security most important aspect of mobile commerce

MIAMI – A Macy’s executive at the MEF Americas 2010 Content & Commerce conference said that security is the most important aspect of mobile commerce because it is what makes consumers trust a brand enough to buy from its mobile site or application.

During the keynote “The Shift to Mobile Discovery, Engagement & Commerce in Retail” session, the executive discussed the role of mobile for the retail giant and the upside and challenges of consumer privacy.

“Ultimately it’s primarily about maintaining trust,” said Keith Enright, vice presidet of privacy and chief privacy officer of Macy’s Inc., Mason, OH. “Every time we fumble the trust, we put our brand at risk and that’s simply unacceptable.

“I do believe that the mobile ecosystem is a unique opportunity to promote customer centricity,” he said. “Mobile creates a unique capability now that lets us surprise and delight our customers in a relevant way.

Let them shop
Mr. Enright said that mobile presents a tremendous opportunity to invite customers across all channels.

In addition, the executive believe multichannel customers to be of more value than single channel ones.

“Customers who shop multiple channels spend more and shop more frequently,” Mr. Enright said. “The challenge is to give meaningful notice so customers understand their options and then empower them to express their preferences.

“At first blush, the mobile ecosystem seems to be overwhelmingly exhibitionistic,” he said. “Consumers are putting so much information about themselves out there.

“Millennial consumers care much about privacy, but they see it differently than we do – our behaviors are driven by that desire.”

The customer is always right
In the mobile space, smartphones have become a persistent ubiquitous interface between consumers and things that matter most to them such as family, friends and work, per Mr. Enright.

“Because of that, it’s incredibly easy to lose control of privacy,” Mr. Enright said. “We all know that in the coming years a vast amount of searches will come from the mobile channel.

“It becomes critically important that we understand the rules of the road,” he said. “We let them engage with brands they love using the channels and technologies they choose.

“If we are asking our customers to share credit card or social security numbers, we’re taking responsibility for the security.”

Mobile privacy
According to Mr. Enright, it is important to find out how to deliver critical information to consumers in a way that they can trust the brand and retailer.

“For some reason consumers presume that transactions on mobile are more secure than on the Internet,” Mr. Enright said. “Over time if that perception persists, regulators might impose on us as beneficiaries of that trust.

“We are right now at ground zero for the nexus of regulatory scrutiny,” he said. “We’ve got all of these things such as location-based services and all of this is creating risk just as much as it’s creating [new opportunities].”

It is important for retailers to understand who their customer is.

Mr. Enright said that if a business has a consumer for 30 years who has a smartphone, then the company should take advantage of that and offer deals and incentives so that it can get that customer’s business as opposed to its competition.

“Consumers expect that we surprise and delight them with valuable offers that interest them,” Mr. Enright said. “We need to understand what their expectations and norms are.

“Knowing your customers improves the consumer experience, optimizes efficiency and makes industries more competitive,” he said. “Consumer centricity is consumer protection.”