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Ecommerce Customer Accounts Report

author Bolt Team

Bolt Team

We recommend reading the PDF version of the report.

Accelerated Shifts in Shopping Behavior

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.

Capturing a New Captive Audience with Customer Accounts

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.

Finding 1: The primary value of customer accounts is speed and convenience at the checkout

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.

Key numbers

  • 65% of shoppers prefer to checkout out with a customer account vs. guest
  • 6x: Shoppers are six times more likely to create a customer account than not
  • 33% of shoppers are neither likely nor unlikely to complete a purchase if forced to create an account first

Top perceived value of accounts
1. Speed and convenience
2. Discounts and rewards
3. Order tracking

Finding 2: The #1 reason shoppers don’t create customer accounts is concern about security

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.

Key numbers

  • 42% of shoppers won’t create an account if they don’t feel safe providing personal information to a retailer
  • 2x: when it comes to choosing to create an account, privacy and security are twice as important as discounts and rewards
  • 70% of shoppers have 4 or more accounts

Finding 3: Customer accounts drive incremental revenue—beauty, luxury, and furniture & home goods brands have the most to gain

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.

  • Sales for beauty products could fall anywhere from 25-35% in 2020 as in-store traffic has plummeted (and masks temporarily make lipsticks a thing of the past). Shoppers are 60% less interested in creating customer accounts with beauty brands than fashion and accessories brands, even though both types of products lend themselves to repeat purchases.
  • A dependence on brick-and-mortar sales and a historic focus on in-store customer experiences has left luxury brands particularly vulnerable to pandemic-related store closures and diminished in-store foot traffic. While overall revenue has dropped 23% this year, online sales have doubled. Despite the boom in ecommerce revenue, shoppers are just 12% likely to create customer accounts with luxury brands.
  • With most consumers now working from home, sales of furniture & home goods soared 51% in the first quarter of 2020. Whereas buying a new desk might have been a once-every-few-years type of purchase, repeat furniture purchases are more common in the work-from-home era. Despite the growth in revenue, it’s only 5th on the list of verticals in which shoppers would create customer accounts.

Key numbers

  • 64% of shoppers are more likely to make additional purchases once they’ve create an account
  • 60% less shoppers are interested in creating an account with a beauty brand vs. a clothing & accessories brand
  • 2.5x: shoppers are two and a half times more likely to create an account with a clothing & accessories brand than a beauty brand

Methodology / About Bolt

Methodology
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.

About Bolt
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.

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