Work on developing online store sites or systems? Whether you're personally a massive Twitter fan or shun anything that looks like Facebook, knowing how to use those social networking sites to allow customers to log in is going to become an increasingly important skill.
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Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2015, 50 per cent of "retail customer identities" -- that is, logins used by shoppers -- will be based on social network IDs. Right now, that figure is at just 5 per cent. " Using 'login with Facebook' -- or other popular social networks -- reduces friction and therefore improves users' experience of customer registration and subsequent login," Gartner research vice president Ant Allan said in a statement.
While using social networking information might make life easier for customers, there are three potential downsides to deploying that infrastructure. Firstly, you'll still need to build alternate systems; not everyone is happy to use Facebook and the like for these purposes. Secondly, Facebook in particular doesn't have a spotless track record when it comes to offering advance warning to developers about changes to its systems. Thirdly, identity verification through social networking sites isn't particularly rigorous, so that data won't be useful for all shopping purposes.
With that said, it's worth bearing in mind that existing fill-in-the-form systems aren't necessarily any better. "Despite the increased risk of fraud, social network identity proofing and user authentication are no worse than the practices currently used by many businesses," Allan pointed out.