Online shoppers becoming less willing to compromise privacy for personalised experiences: study

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Online shoppers want personalised digital experiences – but are unwilling to compromise their privacy in order to get them, a new study suggests.

More than half (53%) of shoppers around the world want brands to respect their online anonymity, according to Episerver’s fourth-annual Reimagining Commerce research report. But at the same time, 61% want companies to prioritise personalisation. 

The study questioned 4,000 online shoppers in five markets including the UK and the US and found that both retailers and customers like the results of what personalisation can offer. But personal, relevant experiences, such as a shopper being reminded of something they wanted to buy when they were retargeted with ads, depend on customer data. Getting consent to use that data is key to the experience – and customer concern around their data privacy and online security is preventing channels such as voice commerce from expanding as previously expected.

Last year’s Reimaging Commerce report found that 17% of respondents used voice-assisted devices to buy several times a month. This year that figure has fallen to 7%. In 2019, 22% used voice to research a product or service several times a month – falling to 8% in 2020. A third of consumers told Episerver researchers that a lack of security features would stop them buying more via devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Instead, shoppers are using smartphones to buy, and 48% of those that shop every day say they have significantly increased the degree to which they use their smartphones when shopping, with 18% of baby boomers saying they use their smartphones to buy ahead of other devices. That said, mobile conversion rates still lag behind desktop. 

“Companies are facing a digital experience paradox,” said Alex Atzberger, chief executive of Episerver. “Digital is a necessity to compete, but it’s getting more difficult and expensive to compete on digital alone as the golden standard for digital experience isn’t right for every company and customer, and yet the requirements keep increasing. We’ve been sold on experience, but hindsight is 20/20. Understanding what customers want, giving them control over how and where their data is used, and leading them to the next best content and action is how retailers ultimately solve for these contradictions.”

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

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