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Retailers lose £2.3bn a year as shoppers frustrated by verification abandon transactions

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Retailers are losing an estimated £2.3bn in revenue a year when they make customers take more than five minutes to verify their identities, a new study has found.

A study by Experian found that customers visiting retail sites have an average tolerance time of five minutes for identity and security procedures. That compares to four minutes for gambling websites and 7 minutes for NHS, online banking and telecoms sites.

The study also found that 45% of adults have abandoned an online transaction because of the time taken to validate their purchase. Nearly half of them (47%) then went to a competitor, while 20% gave up and 17% tried again later.

How long customers are prepared to wait depends on their age, the study found – pensioners aged 70 and over are the most patient, with only 32% having abandoned a transaction in the last year. Meanwhile 43% of young, single adults had walked away from the checkout and 16% often do so.

Frustration is also felt in isolated areas where broadband access is poor: there, 72% believed verification processes were becoming more complex.

Nick Mothershaw, director of identity and fraud at Experian, said: “Identity verification is becoming an increasingly important part of online retail operations, particularly as the process of dealing with consumers face-to-face is becoming less commonplace. However time-consuming they appear, identity checks are in all our interests, not only protecting businesses from fraud but also individuals.”

He added: “Our research shows that retail businesses are at risk of losing out on trade as thousands of consumers are taking their custom elsewhere. It is therefore vital for online retail outlets to make sure the transaction process is as fast and simple as possible, without compromising the level of site security, in order not to miss out on business.”

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