Consumers are okay with companies knowing more about them if it leads to a better online shopping experience. Some, in fact, are willing to give up their social security number, according to a new report.

But while many consumers are okay with this level of exchange, Episerver’s annual “Reimagining Commerce” report suggests shoppers feel a little spurned by companies focusing too much on transactions and not on their expectations and needs when shopping online.

Nearly one third of global consumers feel disappointed, 16 per cent feel frustrated and 12 per cent feel distrustful of brands that don’t personalize enough, according to the report. When companies do personalize experiences, a quarter of shoppers are more likely to consider purchasing from them again. Episerver’s survey says 59 per cent of respondents would exchange their email information for improved online shopping experiences. Three per cent of people would even give up their social security number. But shoppers want to know there’s something in it for them before sharing personal information, the report says.

“In the race to earn more online sales, the worst thing brands can do is forget that there are real people on the other side of the screens,” it notes.

And people are looking at their screens and shopping a lot more. Sixty-three per cent of people shop online at least once a month. A quarter shop online at least weekly, and more than two-thirds of shoppers expect to make more online purchases this year than they did in 2017.

Device owners. Source: Episerver Reimagining Commerce

This trend is likely to continue, says Episerver, but poor online shopping experiences – an absence of basic search functions, customer reviews and return policies, for example – will make it harder to attract newcomers to the ecosystem.

“Prior online shopping experiences have left bad tastes in many people’s mouths, and lackluster interactions moving forward will only make it tougher to win consumers over,” the report says. “It only takes one bad experience to turn a shopper into a skeptic, and every ecommerce touch point is a chance for brands to get it wrong. But that means brands also have ample opportunities to get it right.”

This also means that brands have to understand that online shopping isn’t always going to lead to a purchase, and their audience is often searching for a product or service or comparing prices between brands. Only 17 per cent of people say buying something is their primary reason for visiting.

“Even when it comes to shoppers who say purchase is their primary reason for visiting websites/mobiles apps, just 38 per cent first look for the products they came for,” says Episerver.

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