When one thinks of retail, very often the images of clothing outfits, office supply stores, and hardware stores come into mind.  But keep in mind, retail encompasses much more than that.  For example, it also includes computer stores, even the fast food joints, and yes, also the car repair shops (this just dawned on me as I have had to take my car in for some major repairs this past week, and there is still more work to be done).

But whatever segments that the retail business is serving, there are two denominators in common:  1) They have to serve customers that want everything right here and right now; and 2) You have to wait for the second part of this blog in order to find out what this is. 

Because of the first point, retail joints are trying to find newer and more sophisticated forms of technology in order to serve the needs of their customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

One area that the retail segments is eyeing closely is that of the use of mobile related technology.  This has been substantiated by a new research study that has been conducted by an organization known as “Jamf”. 

In this, they found out at 99% of the retail outfits polled have either implemented or are planning to deploy at least one form of mobile technology.

Here is what was also discovered:

*96% of the respondents claim that mobile technology enables them to optimize inventory planning and management;

*96% of those stores polled believe that using mobile technology boosts employee productivity and motivation;

*91% of the respondents claim that mobile technology increases revenue by streamlining the sales process;

* 50% of the stores also report improved levels of customer service after deploying mobile devices.

For those stores that have not deployed mobile technology yet, the survey found out that:

*95% of them plan to implement mobile technology for instore and staff use in order to augment the overall levels of customer experience;

*93% of the stores plan to offer mobile devices as a bridge between the brick and mortar stores and online shops;

*94% of the respondents plan to deploy fixed interactive screens in order to keep their customers informed into the latest product offerings, coupons, deals, etc.  This of course would be of great value during the holiday season.

When it came to the choice of the mobile platform to be used, here is something interesting that was also discovered:

*76% of retail IT decision makers believe that Apple mobile devices are better to use than Windows or Android;

*48% use a mix of the iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems;

*82% of the stores polled have had problems or other serious issues with Android and Windows based mobile devices.

However, now comes the pain point:  Cybersecurity threats and issues as it relates to the use of mobile devices, and here is what the survey also found in this aspect:

*45% of the retail stores that have been polled have strong concerns about the use of passwords and password resets;

*43% of the stores are worried about keeping with the compliance rules and regulations (most notably that of the GDPR, as many of these retail stores have operations in Europe as well);

*Other security related issues, as 37% of the respondents also believe.

My Thoughts on This

Yep, you probably guessed the second common denominator that retail outfits possess:  Cybersecurity issues.  In this regard, they are probably amongst one of the most targeted by the Cyberattacker, as it is clear from all the Point of Sale malware breaches that have been occurring. 

Because of this, many of the retail stores are now becoming fully aware that as they deploy mobile technology into their respective lines of businesses, more is not necessarily better.

As I have written about this before, simply adding more technologies, especially as it relates to security, is never a good thing.  The primary reason for this is that it only further opens and expands the attack surface for the Cyberattacker. 

Being cognizant of this fact, many of the retail businesses polled in this survey (in fact, 89% of them) are looking at deploying a single Mobile Device Management platform in which the management and upkeep of all of the mobile devices that are being used can be managed from one central location.

It can be further defined as follows:

“Mobile device management (MDM) is a type of security software used by an IT department to monitor, manage and secure employees’ mobile devices that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers and across multiple mobile operating systems being used in the organization.

Mobile device management software is often combined with additional security services and tools such as Mobile Application Management to create a complete mobile device and security Enterprise Mobility Management solution.”

(SOURCE:  https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/M/mobile_device_management.html)

In the end, 91% of those respondents firmly believe that making use of a Mobile Device Management package would not only be great for adding value and satisfaction to their customer’s overall level of shopping experience, but that it will also help keep the Cyberattacker.  In fact, using such a tool can reduce IT spend by as much as 25%.

But using just one Mobile Device Platform is just one step in fortifying the lines of defense of a retail business.  For example, Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) must be implemented, and employees have to pretty much be forbidden to use their own wireless devices in order to conduct their work-related activities (this is phenomenon is also known as “Bring Your Own Device”, or “BYOD”).  The IT Security staff at these organizations must be adamant and enforce this rule.

Also, it doesn’t really surprise me to find out that the retail stores in this survey far prefer the use of iOS-based devices rather than that of the Windows or Android platforms.  After all, iPhones and iPads have proven that they can be difficult to break into, and even “jailbreak” into as well.  We often hear more about Cyberattacks occurring upon the latter rather than the iOS systems. 

I hope that other corporations and businesses learn from this survey that more is not better.  It is far more strategic to perhaps deploy one brand of Firewalls or Routers (for example sake) than different ten different brands from different vendors. 

This not only decreases the attack surface, but management and maintenance, especially in the way of software/firmware upgrades and patches can be done from one central location.

Finally, more details about the survey can be seen here at this link: