employee at cash register

Why Retailers Must Avoid Passwords

The retail landscape is exchanging its use of passwords at the point of sale (POS). This shift is driven by the need for strong authentication in environments where money, data and transactions are constantly flowing — and internal theft is on the rise. Retailers are turning to passwordless authentication technologies to produce traceability when it comes to detecting and deterring poor POS behavior.  These identity verification systems not only tie one individual to each transaction, but they also register many other business benefits involving higher digital security, efficiencies, cost savings and both employee and customer satisfaction. Indeed, knowing who is doing what can help retailers to set up accurate commissions and incentives based on employees’ individual results.

RFID-based technologies offer a compelling, cost-effective solution for the retail sector. They ensure retail business is outfitted with best-in-class POS credentials and identity verification accessories.

Why Passwords Are a Problem

Traditional password-based authentication is riddled with vulnerabilities. Passwords can be easily forgotten, shared, stolen or phished — posing a significant security risk. In addition, passwords are cumbersome for employees who must typically remember multiple passwords for different systems. This repetitive process impacts efficiency and can drag down customer service. In addition, it can generate high costs from managing, updating or replacing passwords.

The Power of RFID in Retail

RFID authentication technology offers a more secure, robust and convenient alternative. Credentials (in physical form as a card or fob, or saved digitally on a mobile device and/or smart watch) are tied to each employee to drive accountability. Workers gain access only to systems they are authorized to use. Each transaction is secure as employees easily authenticate themselves with each instance at the register. Employees simply present their access card or credential (which can now be conveniently stored in a mobile wallet and/or smart watch) to log in to the POS station. They can then easily authenticate to tie their accountability to each transaction with a quick wave of their RFID-enabled device. An added benefit is this eliminates the need for tedious passwords (another opportunity for businesses to fortify systems = go passwordless!). This seamless method of passwordless authentication not only enhances security but also streamlines the user experience — leading to better, faster service for customers. Entering a password can take 10 seconds or more if employees must make numerous attempts to retry when passwords fail. With RFID authentication readers, it takes only one or two seconds to perform a transaction. When multiplied by the number of transactions recorded per day, the time saved is huge. 

This translates to big benefits and potential savings as a result of:

  • Enhanced security against unauthorized POS access — Password sharing and phishing become virtually extinct with RFID authentication. The risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data is drastically minimized.
  • Saved time and more ergonomic authentication systems — No more keyboard needed. Just a reader, swap card, phone, fob or wearable, and retail employees are good to go.
  • Reduced internal theft and reinforced transaction accountability — Employees act more responsibly when every POS action is linked to their individual credential. This deters merchandise theft, refund fraud, cash/deposit theft and sweethearting (i.e., giving free or discounted merchandise to someone) — and fosters a culture of transparency.
  • Improved efficiency with a passwordless POS — A simple badge swipe or wave of a mobile device replaces password practices to significantly speed up log-ins and transaction processing. Retail customers experience faster service, reduced wait times and smoother brand engagement.
  • Compliance support and effective time and attendance — RFID-based identity authentication aligns with industry regulations and standards to ensure data compliance for your retail organization
  • Resource savings — Password resets and related support are a drain for everyone. A password-free landscape frees up IT resources for more strategic tasks.
  • User convenience — A single secure credential used throughout a shift helps boost employee satisfaction and performance. The same credentials used to authenticate at the POS can also be used for employee time clock and attendance, and can serve to offer employees multiple services, including access to restaurants, cafeterias, EV charging stations and more.

Redressing Identity Authentication at Retail 

Best-in-class POS readers play a crucial role in this transformation from pesky passwords to authentication in a flash. Embedded modules and desktop readers from HID easily integrate with existing systems and deliver easy-to-use logical access for POS log-ins. Users are verified before they gain access to retail systems and accountability is tied to each transaction. This seamless, password-free operation not only enhances security but also streamlines the overall retail experience — leading to better, faster service for customers and more productive employees. 

We detail additional facts and figures in our latest RFID in Retail infographic: 8 Ways RFID Authentication Advances the Retail Sector.

Ready to exchange passwords for a more resilient and secure retail environment? 

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Oriol is the Business Development Manager for the Americas within the Extended Access Technologies (EAT) Business Area. His main focus is RFID and Biometric Solutions. Based in Austin, TX, Oriol joined HID in 2008 in Germany and has held multiple technical and business roles, including EMEA Field Application Engineer for RFID products in Barcelona, Spain and Global Professional Services Manager for HID Biometrics and RFID products in Albuquerque, NM. Oriol is results-oriented with strong analytical skills that fit a dual-strength profile: technical and business. He received an EMBA from IESE in 2016, an MS Degree in Business Administration in 2012 and an MS Degree in Telecommunications Engineering in 2007 from Universitat Autonoma de Bellaterra. Oriol brings more than 15 years of experience in the electronic security industry where he has developed deep expertise in the following areas: smartcards, RFID cards, ePassports, visas, SIM cards, eHealth, payments, BLE, cryptography, fingerprint biometrics and facial recognition. In his free time, Oriol enjoys sailing and is maritime trained, having held a sailing license since 1999.