TNS/Fortinet Findings Reveal How Retailers are Reimagining the Customer Experience

In the wake of Covid, TNS teamed up with its infrastructure security partner, Fortinet, to get a fresh take on what IT, operations and security managers are doing to secure their payments networks. From the resulting Retail Security & Covid 2021 Trend Report conducted by Canam Research, technology adoption rates reveal a clear picture of priorities and practices that have dramatically accelerated with the pandemic.

Approximately 60% of those surveyed report implementing mobile applications and contactless transactions in response to changing buyer behaviors and social distancing mandates. With these factors driving security concerns, 67% view the implementation of a secure, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) as mission-critical technology. Most will be deploying new systems and upgrading with managed service solutions over the next 12 to 18 months to streamline the customer experience, and to defend against the growing threats and vulnerabilities proliferating across expanding attack surfaces.

Software-Defined Retail

After cramming five years of technological innovation into one year of pandemic shutdowns, the survey’s most significant finding is that software-defined retail is the new paradigm for best-practice payments. SD-WAN supports the goals of risk reduction in keeping direct human contact to a minimum, and in providing a robust and flexible mobile network that at the same time is protected with state-of-the-art security controls.

Millions of customers who may never have made a purchase over the internet before 2020 are now accustomed to ordering online, curbside pickup, and utilizing a growing array of onsite wi-fi and video applications that retailers are now using to create their own “digital destinations” and new customer experiences. Device connectivity for in-store shopping and secure connections for branded mobile apps are becoming requirements, and essential to meeting what are becoming everyday customer expectations.

The more complex networking requirements and the shortage of reliable employees are factors leading to more managed services relationships with payments infrastructure providers and processors. Top benefits cited for implementing a managed SD-WAN solution range across the board and are listed here in order of importance:

  • Greater network agility
  • Increased bandwidth
  • Ease of management
  • Ability to prioritize traffic
  • Reduced WAN costs
  • Access to SaaS and cloud applications
  • Improved consumer retail experience

Of those surveyed, 54% ranked security as “very important” in the decision to deploy SD-WAN compared to only 38% in a retail sector survey from 2019. Obviously, there is more risk to manage and more ways to penetrate a network in 2021 and beyond.

Fewer retail organizations are choosing the traditional in-house approach to managing connectivity or using a telecommunications provider. A majority have moved to or are considering an outsourced solution. Already, 35% have started working with a third-party end-to-end service provider.

In-store user innovations and promotional programs are accelerating a number of integrations including the following in order of importance:

  • In-store loyalty/rewards
  • Third-party integrations (e.g., DoorDash)
  • Omnichannel experiences
  • Dynamic pricing (including upsell and cross-sell promotions)
  • Cash(ier)less stores
  • Facial recognition
  • Endless aisle fulfilment models

Network, cloud, and applications security are key investment areas for virtually all managers surveyed. Risk management, training and third-party assessments are increasing in importance. More than 80% of participants said they are confident in PCI DSS compliance within both new technologies and new sales channels.

Realigning Risk

The bottom line? Risk reduction, and not just managing risk against cybercrime. There are threats and vulnerabilities to be managed as well in terms of health concerns and viral controls, staff turnover and stricter social distancing requirements, and assuring operational resilience against future shutdowns.

There’s a lot more complexity, and a lot more on managements’ plate. But there is also growing risk in training and counting on qualified, in-house employees to run the payments networks, learn the trade secrets, maintain business continuity, and to uphold that integrity in an atmosphere of high turnover, talent scarcity, and employees jumping to competitors. Of managers surveyed, 35% will invest in consultants and 39% expect to invest in managed security service providers and other professional vendors.

This collaborative report by TNS and Fortinet validates where retail is going, and provides insight for the security measures, enriched customer experiences and wide variety of wraparound services being deployed. Clearly, everything was different before the pandemic. Post-pandemic, it’s clear that payments network management and security are now viewed less as expenses against the bottom line and more as top-line opportunities.

Few organizations have the reputation and hardware horsepower to handle this new transaction ecosystem as does Fortinet. They are the security bedrock under the hood of TNS Secure SD-WAN. TNS is proud to be providing retailers top-rated cybersecurity solutions with centralized visibility and management, lower cost of ownership and top digital performance. This is the new paradigm, and what is now required to match customer expectations in the brave new world of post-Covid payments technologies.

To view the Fortinet Retail Security & Covid 2021 Trend Report, click here: Retail Security & COVID Survey 2021 – Trend Report (

Dan Lyman is Head of Global Products for TNS’ Payments Market business. He leads a global team of product specialists and is responsible for driving product innovation across TNS’ extensive portfolio of payments solutions.