Addressing Inconsistencies in Online Age-Verification
Internet shopping is booming! US American ecommerce grew 50.5% from 2019 to 2020, and 14.2% in 2021 according to DigitalCommerce360. Ecommerce isn’t just for giants like Amazon and Walmart. Smaller online retailers have taken notice of the rising tide, especially in attempt to keep their businesses afloat during pandemic lockdowns.
These smaller enterprises are making use of advancing logistic technologies making selling and shipping much more efficient.
With most US Americans carrying internet-accessible smartphones nearly 24/7, the prospects of consumers being able to buy whatever they want at the push of a button is clearly an extremely lucrative one for ecommerce sites. The speed at which all of this has happened has led to frightening gaps in the effectiveness of age and customer verification scattered about the vastness of ecommerce.
The need for accurate and easy to use customer verification is reaching a fevered pitch, and it’s applications like Konfirmi that are leading the way in answering that call.
Mini Case Study – Vaping
The vaping craze has hit the country like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, it has been minors who seem to be the most affected by this surge. There are various reasons for this. Firstly, vapes are exponentially easier to conceal than cigarettes. Secondly, there has been a lot of misinformation about what tobacco and nicotine vapes are actually made of. Thirdly, until relatively recently, despite still being illegal to sell to minors, e-cigarettes or more specifically, the “vape juice” that is inhaled, has been much easier for children to get their hands on than repeatedly trying to buy cigarettes.
It doesn’t help that the vape marketing is everywhere. Nearly seven out of ten teenagers naturally come across vaping advertisements, which only serve to exacerbate the issue. One out of five 12th graders is vaping. Until recently the minimum age requirement for purchasing tobacco was 18 (which many 12th graders are). This has allowed vaping to spread through high schools at near epidemic rates. The US government raising the legal age to 21 was designed to curtail this influx, however, it is too early into its implementation to notice any effects one way or the other.
As for the actual purchase, it’s one thing to turn away a minor looking to buy vaping products at a convenience store where they can be seen and their identification can be verified. It is a very different thing to achieve the same discernibility on the internet. Some websites will provide cursory age verification methods like “age gates” while others simply flout the law entirely. Because of the nebulousness of the digital space, these vendors can often get away with it. Moreover, many of these sellers are not offering a product that is on the up and up, to begin with. Still, they are more than happy to take a customer’s money and ship them their product, seemingly unconcerned with the particulars of the situation beyond that point.
The problem with underage access to vaping products isn’t a lack of legislation. The problem is a lack of effectively enforcing that legislation. In 2019 several vape related deaths brought vaping into the forefront of US American consciousness. It was those deaths that have spurred on the recent spike in legislative action. It would follow that enforcement measures are due to ramp up soon as well.
As a result, many vape retailers and other purveyors of age-restricted products are getting more serious about their age verification processes and software. While still in use, age gates are really the most useless thing on the internet, offering little protection against minors accessing and purchasing age-restricted products. Now applications like alcohol delivery service Drizly, food delivery service DoorDash, and those that use UPS for alcohol shipping require their delivery drivers to check IDs. This approach has varying levels of effectiveness.
But are these measures strong enough? The unverified sale of alcohol and vape products is one thing, but deadly firearms are also sold online. The internet is in desperate need for accurate and reliable customer verification.
Standardizing the customer verification process would benefit the ecommerce space considerably. Ecommerce needs to find the most viable solution and make it the general best practice within the industry. Applications like Konfirmi are primed to offer that service.
The Importance of an Elevated Standard
The importance of age and customer verification is only going to increase going forward. Strong enforcement of legislation along with new age restricted products makes for increased importance. For instance, ss more and more states legalize cannabis, an entirely new age-restricted market is making its way onto the stage.
At brick-and-mortar establishments, age verification can be done in real life, face-to-face. If someone wants to buy an age-restricted product, they simply show their ID and if it appears valid, they receive their product.
Undeniably, fake IDs have been around for decades. But it’s much more difficult to get a fake ID passed a seasoned convenience store clerk than it is to get passed a shady website that doesn’t particularly care how old you are so long as you have money.
To combat underage consumers from accessing illegal content or products, the ecommerce arena needs to improve its efforts from “age gates” to processes and procedures that actually work. One such solution is Konfirmi which offers state of the art customer verification software. Moreover, it is low cost and easy to implement. Additionally, it provides customers with an easy-to-use system, thus not adversely affecting the customer experience.
Because Konfirmi cross-references information with billions of online records maintained by reputable third-party data providers it is nearly impossible to fool with something as ubiquitous as a fake ID. This means that any online retailer that aims to comply with the law will have a fortified verification apparatus that can seamlessly integrate into their existing platforms.
Age-verification wasn’t a major concern years ago when Amazon was a simple online retailer only selling books. Yet, because just about everyone uses the internet these days, gaps in its effectiveness often present themselves relatively naturally. Such is the case with age verification. The old way is no longer working with regard to age-restricted products. Applications like Konfirmi offer a new and better way.
Teen vaping is a problem that was caught late. It will likely take years to undo the damage of unchecked marketing and unregulated ecommerce. Implementing stronger and standardized age verification is a step in the right direction. Konfirmi offers a cost-effective and easy to use tool to make that step a lot easier for ecommerce to take.