UK consumers suffer high rates of false declines and negative online shopping experiences, according to new Forter study

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Forter, the Trust Platform for digital commerce, has released findings from its 2023 Consumer Trust Premium Report which surveyed 5,000 respondents from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Singapore, and China.

The report explores the relationship between consumer shopping habits and brand trust, and found alarming rates of false declines, cart abandonment, and trust issues heading into the holiday shopping season.

With an ongoing cost of living crisis, risk of recession and many UK consumers cutting back on their non-essential spending, trust is a key driver for continuing retail growth. Forter’s report found that UK consumers are willing to spend 44% more on average with retailers they trust – coined the “Trust Premium.” As economic conditions grow less favourable, investing in building customer trust and long-term loyalty is vital to help insulate retailers against market turbulence. 

“The Trust Premium represents potentially millions of pounds in revenue uplift for retailers,” said Michael Reitblat, chief executive officer and co-founder, Forter. “UK retailers that lean into and invest in customer experience – from account creation to authentication to checkout – are best positioned to turn a profit over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.”

Unfortunately, the report showed that over 73%* of UK consumers have had a negative online shopping experience in the past three months, with high rates of false declines (14%), purchases not arriving on time (37%), and expensive and/or difficult returns policies (27%).

Abandoned Carts at the First Sign of Friction

A seamless checkout experience is one of the most essential pieces of building trust with UK shoppers. The report found that more than three quarters (77%)[1] of UK consumers would abandon a purchase if the checkout experience is too complicated or time-consuming.

While retailers often rely on one-time passwords, CAPTCHAs and manual order reviews to enhance security, when used indiscriminately, they deter good customers and leave money on the table. Forter’s first-party data found that mandating account creation can cause, on average, 3-5% of consumers to drop off, while requiring consumers to validate their email addresses/phone numbers can cause a 4-7% drop-off rate, on average. By creating unnecessary friction, retailers are turning good customers – and their money – away. 

False Declines are Leading to Lost Revenue

Despite their growing buying power, younger shoppers in the UK face the most friction with online shopping. Millennials are twice[2] as likely than Gen X to be falsely declined whilst Gen Z consumers are up to six times3 more likely to be falsely declined at checkout compared to Baby Boomers (10%). In the race to win the next generation of shoppers, ensuring legitimate customers have a friction-free experience is critical.

Retailers Have a Trust Problem

With many new shoppers venturing into digital commerce, Forter has found that retailers often turn away new — but trustworthy — customers simply because they’ve never encountered them before. Forter’s first-party data revealed that false declines are typically five to ten times higher than actual fraud rates. Forter estimates based on its first-party data that for every $1 retailers lose to fraud, they forfeit $30 by declining legitimate consumers.

“Our report reveals the brands that win the next generation of shoppers will provide fast, frictionless and fraud-free shopping experiences — and establish a mutual trust with their consumers,” said Reitblat. “Many retailers can’t accurately assess the trustworthiness, and identity, of customers visiting their sites and in turn their fear of fraud leads to unnecessary friction, cart abandonment, false declines, and lost revenue. But this situation doesn't have to continue unchecked. Balancing the importance of fraud prevention without impacting customer experience will be the next major test for retailers during the upcoming holiday shopping season.”

Methodology

The research was conducted by Opinion Matters in May 2023. The survey gathered responses from 5,000 adults aged 18+ who have at least two active eCommerce accounts and shopped online at least once in the last three months in the U.K., U.S., Germany, Singapore, and China. There were 1,000 respondents from each territory. Opinion Matters abides by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

*Reverse of none of the above

[1] Very likely and somewhat likely combined
[2] Among survey respondents, 42% of UK Millennials (born between 1981-1996) have experienced a false decline versus 24% of UK Gen X (born between 1965-1980) in the past three months.

3 Among survey respondents, 60% of UK Gen Z (born between 1997-2005) have experienced a false decline versus 10% of UK Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) in the past three months.

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