We recommend reading the PDF version of the report.
The growth in ecommerce sales in 2020 has been a major topic of conversation, and it’s no surprise: the numbers are staggering. Ecommerce sales surged 22% on Black Friday alone, and Cyber Monday turned out to be the largest online shopping day in US history. So far, 2020 has netted nearly $200B over last year.
It’s been well documented (and often validated by personal experience) that shifting shopping behavior due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the dominant catalyst. After March 2020, consumers’ digital shopping channel use has increased by 60%. Theorists suggest that this is not a temporary shift. As Scott Galloway of the NYU Stern School of Business puts it: “Things won’t change as much as they’ll accelerate.”
As brands identify opportunities to build relationships with shoppers online vs. in-stores, we investigate the value of customer accounts, which give retailers an instant connection to online shoppers.
Customer accounts are valuable to shoppers because they streamline the purchasing experience. Instead of entering payment information or shipping addresses time and time again, a customer account saves a shopper’s basic personal and payment information to make it faster to complete a purchase.
For retailers, the value is twofold. First, customer accounts form the structural basis to enable features like reviews or rewards programs. Next, accounts enable retailers to better understand each shopper and personalize recommendations, communication, or the checkout experience accordingly. From the technical to the relational, customer accounts open up opportunities for any number of interactive experiences with shoppers.
We surveyed shoppers to understand how and why they use (or don’t use) customer accounts with stores, distilling our survey down to three key findings for retailers to consider while navigating new shopping behavior and doubling down on building online experiences for shoppers.
Most shoppers (65%) prefer to checkout with customer accounts. Why? The #1 perceived value is the checkout experience itself, which is an even larger selling point for using customer accounts than other valuable accounts-related benefits like discounts, rewards, ease of managing orders and returns, or exclusive product offers. Without accounts, shoppers have to fill out a series of fields and forms with payment and shipping information every time they complete a purchase. By saving payment and shipping information, customer accounts enable a fast and seamless checkout experience.
What convinces shoppers to create an account in the first place? The most important element is whether or not the customer is likely to shop at the store again (48%). This isn’t surprising, given that a smooth, ‘logged-in’ checkout experience is available to repeat purchasers vs. first-time buyers. If shoppers are required to create an account in order to complete a purchase, resulting behavior varies. A little over a third of shoppers (37%) are still likely to create the account and complete the transaction, exactly one third could go either way (33%), and a little less than one third (30%) would likely not complete the purchase.
An ideal scenario is to offer an easy solution to create an account during the checkout process, which is the third most reported reason that is most likely to convince a shopper to create an account for the first time.
Top perceived value of accounts
1. Speed and convenience
2. Discounts and rewards
3. Order tracking
Shoppers have an appetite for customer accounts, and 98% have at least one store account. Roughly 70% have up to six accounts. Given that most consumers shop at six grocery stores (which doesn’t even include retail), why don’t all shoppers have more accounts?
Shoppers report that the #1 reason they would not create an account is concern over the retailer sharing their information (such as their name, email, or other contact information) or a lack of trust providing personal information to the retailer.
It’s not surprising that privacy and security are top-of-mind. In function, customer accounts act as both identity authentication (via username/password login) and digital wallet (via saved payment information). Both pieces of information are particularly valuable to fraudsters, as evidenced by the rise in Account Takeover Fraud (“ATO”) in which a fraudster gains access to a shopper’s account and changes login, shipping, or personal data. Customer accounts provide demonstrable value to both shoppers and retailers, but retailers need to ensure that their accounts solution adheres to the highest security measures.
Customer accounts are linked to incremental sales: the majority of shoppers (64%) are more likely to make an additional purchase with a retailer if they create a customer account. When questioned about specific industries, shoppers reported that they’re most likely to create customer accounts with clothing & accessories brands, whose share of online vs. in-store sales has been growing steadily over the past few years.
A full 41% of shoppers cite ‘repeat shopping’ as the most likely reason that they’d create an account in the first place, which (in addition to other points above) reveals a correlation to account creation and repeat purchases. Even as more shoppers are buying online, beauty, luxury, and furniture & home goods brands are toward the bottom of the list of industries with which shoppers are likely to create an account.
A survey of 872 randomly selected U.S. adults (ages 18 and older) was conducted on November 23-24 to determine why shoppers decide to create or not create customer accounts. Respondents were asked 15 questions about customer accounts, checkout, and brand perception, among others.
The survey was commissioned by Bolt and executed by YouGov.
Bolt is building a network of millions of happy shoppers by making online buying fast, safe and easy. Our Checkout Experience Platform connects shoppers with retailers in a unified cross-brand network. Bolt tackles the problems retailers face through optimizing conversions at checkout, managing hundreds of integrations and the rising risk of fraud. Bolt is a future-proof solution that increases conversions by 60% through our network of shoppers.
Bolt is a lightweight layer that can be implemented with all of the major platforms.
For more information visit bolt.com and follow @bolt on Twitter.