Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How retailers can make a lasting impression on UK consumers

By Zac Cohen, COO at Trulioo

One of the major impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has catapulted the world from “digital-first” to “digital only” almost overnight as people have reoriented all aspects of their lives, from work and shopping, through to socialising and leisure.

In doing so, it has rapidly driven online service providers to embrace innovation and prioritise customer experience to build more personal, engaging, and positive customer relationships. Examples include doctors taking virtual appointments and stores enabling customers to book a slot for seamless click and collect. Demographics have also shifted, with many older individuals being forced online for services such as grocery shopping.

Winning and keeping customers 

It’s a widely held belief that we’re in a ‘new normal’ phase. Restrictions of movement are likely to remain in place for some time while the cultural changes of working remotely and an increase in digital commerce are likely to remain in perpetuity. At a time when every penny counts for businesses, winning and keeping customers truly is the name of the game and first impressions count now more than ever. Customers are seeking a secure, seamless and relatively quick online account opening process. In fact, recent research revealed that the account opening process can make or break a relationship with an online shopper. According to the Consumer Account Opening report, only a third of consumers (37%) are fully satisfied with their account opening experiences – the implications of which are both profound and long-lasting.

In such a dynamic and competitive environment, online retailers simply cannot afford to deliver anything less than a first-class account opening experience for customers, one which is both fast and secure. Retailers are investing huge amounts of time and money in innovative campaigns to engage new customers, only to risk losing them at the final hurdle by not being able to onboard them effectively. In most cases, these people never come back. With all eyes now shifted to digital, online retailers have an immense opportunity to win the customer experience by focusing on the account creation process.

A clear directive for retail

In fact, the majority of online shoppers (77%) reported that they are becoming increasingly intolerant of poor online account opening experiences and will switch to other sites if they encounter a sub-optimal process. Simply put, online service providers have a clear directive – protect customers at all times on their websites and mobile applications. 

This protection means collecting and managing personal data in a secure and compliant way, and guarding against identity theft. Despite the ongoing quest for ever faster customer experience within the retail sector, the report found that 90% of online shoppers cite security as a very important part of an optimal account creation experience, far ahead of seamlessness (59%) and flexibility (59%).

And it’s not just a security issue. Online shoppers see clear benefits in real-time identity verification with 85% less likely to abandon, 80% feeling more valued as a customer, and 78% more likely to spend more time and money on a site when an online retailer uses it (real-time identity verification) as part of the account creation process. Of course, it’s not mandatory, but 43% of consumers would go elsewhere if the site was unable to verify their identity after multiple attempts while 41% would walk away if there was a lack of transparency about why certain personal information is required.

Account creation crunch time

In an ever-more competitive digital economy, brands in all sectors must work harder and invest more to attract and engage new customers. Losing customers and their revenue potential during the account opening process, before they’ve even had an opportunity to use and engage with a service, is a challenge facing all online businesses. 

Consumers want brands to protect their security and identity when they are shopping online, but don’t believe that this protection should come at the expense of first-rate customer experience. Real-time identity verification plays a crucial role in meeting customer demands for both security and speed when signing up for a new account. Those businesses that can onboard people in an optimised way will set themselves up to build strong and enduring relationships with their customers that will last a long time after the spectre of Covid-19 has passed.