Today’s shoppers are busier than ever before. Whether it’s due to both spouses working in married-couple families, skyrocketing commute times (at least prior to the COVID-19 pandemic), or just the everyday busyness of modern life, consumers have less time to meet their commerce needs. Beyond the essentials of spending time with family, sleeping, preparing food and eating, most people have very little free time for things like paying bills, going to the gym, or shopping for groceries, clothes, school supplies, etc.
That has made getting things done online a necessity. In 2019, for instance, there were 1.92 billion digital buyers and e-commerce sales accounted for 14.1 percent of retail purchases worldwide. In the U.S., holiday e-commerce sales jumped by 18 percent over 2018. That’s a trend that's likely to accelerate.
What Does That Mean for Businesses?
The less time shoppers have, the more important it is for retailers to offer shopping experiences that are as convenient and pain-free as possible. A recent Vanson Bourne survey of 7,000 consumers across North America and Europe explored the expectations and demands of these modern day superhumans. The research points to three key areas for retailers to focus on:
- Make frictionless experiences a priority. Consumers today have high expectations for their digital experiences. According to the survey, 92 percent of respondents expect a fast, frictionless experience while also getting one that's as trustworthy and secure as possible. With minimal time to manage their digital commerce needs, consumers won’t tolerate friction. In fact, three-quarters have no patience for subpar digital experiences due to alternative options available in the marketplace. Seventy-three percent say that creating an account or processing a transaction on a digital platform should happen instantaneously. That may be why an astounding 66 percent have abandoned account openings or transactions on at least one occasion due to friction, including the process just taking too long.
- Focus on privacy and security. Consumers are also paying much closer attention to how their personal data is being used. Sixty-one percent of respondents believe the responsibility for preventing fraud lies with the companies that have access to their data. If consumers do experience fraud on a company’s platform, 91 percent say they likely won’t use that company again in the future. As more regulatory initiatives for consumer protection are introduced, like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the U.S., retailers will need to elevate their privacy practices to gain an advantage with customers, earning their trust and loyalty over other competitors.
- Advance the implementation of digital identity verification (DIDV) solutions. All consumers are subjected to digital identity verification at some point — either when they set up accounts or make transactions online. However, only 12 percent of those surveyed completely understood what DIDV is and why it happens. Over half of respondents said the extent to which companies verify the identities of their customers influences how much they would trust a company. While thorough fraud prevention procedures can help build this trust, they can also hinder the customer experience. In order to keep security “behind the scenes,” more retailers are shifting from rules-based systems to more precise decisioning through machine learning models, which provide scale and speed for assessing risk to dramatically reduce friction for good customers.
This survey makes clear that consumers aren’t willing to compromise on speed, convenience or security when it comes to digital transactions. The pressure is on retailers to build customer trust with a smooth, yet highly secure experience from the very first interaction. Companies that can deliver on all fronts will earn the loyalty of today’s time-deprived consumers.
Beth Shulkin is vice president of global marketing at global digital identity verification provider Ekata.