40% will switch retailers for better security, payments convenience

Loyalty to retailers can be fleeting. Forty percent of customers are willing to change to another retailer for day-to-day items if new technologies offering better data security and convenience of payments are available.

According to the "2015 Next Generation of Commerce Study" from Acquity Group, part of Accenture Interactive: 21 percent will switch if a retailer offers enhanced payment security measures such as fingerprint or other biometric sensors for mobile shopping; 18 percent will change if a retailer offers social engagement as a form of currency redeemable for discounts or coupons; 9 percent will shift if a retailer accepts Google Wallet or other forms of mobile payments in-store; and 3 percent will change to a retailer accepting bitcoin or other digital currencies.

"The new generation of commerce has resulted from significant innovations in media, social and fulfillment, prioritizing convenience and a quality shopping experience for consumers," Jay Dettling, Acquity Group's president and managing director, told FierceRetailIT. Digital channels now extend the experience far beyond the traditional path to purchase.

"Consumers have higher expectations than ever before. Retailers that don't want to risk being crossed off consumers' shopping list forever need to make the customer experience more convenient, fast, and easy to navigate," he said.

Full Next Generation of Commerce infographic, Acquity Group

Retailers that act on these findings soon will be rewarded. "Consumers will become loyal to the retailers who take the lead in fulfilling their demands. While consumer loyalties are in flux, now is the time to act on these untapped opportunities," Dettling said.

"Brands need to engage with consumers in a way that feels personal, yet still conforms to the fast-paced, online world we live in. There are a number of strategies to do this successfully, from partnering with third parties to integrating new technologies that can help brands renew their customer engagement strategies. The key is to develop a model that touches consumers at every stage of the customer life cycle—from native advertising to social media to delivery," he said.

The changing forms of payments, such as EMV chip cards, digital wallets and biometric authentication, are very attractive to consumers. "Payments technology has grown in importance for retailers as it is directly related to the growing consumer demand for convenience and security in their buying experiences. This desire for secure transactions is even greater for older consumers," Dettling said.

Social engagement with redeemable social "currency" also is key to attracting today's shoppers, as is delvery and transparency into shipping progress and speed. "Auto-refill services are a relatively new phenomenon, but it's a winning strategy to facilitate faster delivery," he said. "Twenty percent of consumers are already using them, with the most common products, including food and groceries, pet supplies and books."

Geolocation may be the next big way for retailers to connect to consumers. Overall, 58 percent of consumers allow mobile devices to use their location, with 45 percent allowing only some applications to use their location, and 13 percent allowing all applications, he said. On average, younger consumers are more likely to share data with food brands and food service third parties like GrubHub, while older consumers are more likely to share data with household goods companies, and news and editorial outlets.

"The key to success for retailers looking to target shoppers through geolocation is to make consumers understand the value of sharing their location. Those that can communicate how consumers will benefit will be most successful," Dettling said.

Consumers are going to create a brand impression based on their experience with the retailer. "This is nothing new, but brands need to acknowledge this and move quickly to define how they want their brand to be perceived in today's consumer mindset, and then determine which digital activities will enhance or support that position," he said. The new generation of customer will not be influenced by older brand building techniques exclusively.

The retail model of establishing real estate footholds is also under fire as new engagement and distribution methods emerge. "Brands need to consider their entire engagement model in stores and outside of stores. They should constantly ask why is the customer coming to our store or visiting our digital experiences, and ensure there is a value proposition that stands up to competition and meets or exceeds customer expectations," Dettling said.

For more:
-See this Acquity Group study
-See these Acquity Group blog posts

Related stories:
Increased spending on loyalty programs not increasing engagement
Customers torn between personalization and location information
37% of shoppers compare prices via mobile while in store
Target's 'Brick and Mobile' two-app strategy rooted in solving problems
Industry group issues engagement, data privacy guidelines

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