When is a great deal not great enough? When a consumer’s preferred merchant offers a seamless checkout experience that’s too satisfying and reliable to give up for $5 off.

That’s a key learning from PYMNTS research into consumer behavior when checkout experience goes toe to toe with discounting, and even as inflation rages, experience tends to win.

We analyzed this effect in Building A Better Online Checkout Experience: The Key Features That Matter To Customers, a PYMNTS and Checkout.com collaboration, surveying more than 2,000 U.S. consumers about how they value a smooth payments experience versus getting a better price.

Consumer loyalty to specific merchants and brands is being truly tested at a time of trade downs and belt tightening as they shop with the weakest U.S. dollar in four decades. And our research finds that the moment of truth for loyal customers (so categorized due to past purchasing behavior) often happens at checkout when they discover how their favorite online marketplace or ecommerce site “knows” them and proves it as they make their payment.

According to the study, “Smooth checkouts are particularly instrumental to retaining customers we identify as loyal shoppers based on their purchase behavior,” with 76% of respondents who favor certain retailers over others more better deals seeing a satisfying checkout experience as “highly influential to their shopping experience. This share is substantially higher than the 63% of consumers who always or usually give precedence to deals over preferred merchants.”

Get the Study: Building A Better Online Checkout Experience: The Key Features That Matter To Customers

Persuading Fence Sitters

Also apparent in the research is that between loyalists and deal-chasers, there’s another group who are persuadable to either hunt for the lowest price or stick with the best experience. That’s largely matter of winning hearts and minds, as it were, which the data shows is achievable.

Rather than engaging in a race to the bottom pricewise, online retailers can add the checkout features customers appreciate most, providing an experience they’ll return to.

Knowing customer dislikes and pain points goes a long way here, with the study finding that slow checkout speed and issues with manual coupons were considered top frictions affecting the checkout experiences of 15% of consumers in their most recent transactions.

“Information or account issues, such as the merchant requiring too much personal information or forcing the purchaser to create an account, impacted 11% of such purchases,” per the data, and 9% of consumes said “lack of inventory was a problem in their most recent transaction, meaning that their desired items were not in stock or immediately available upon checkout.”

Of those surveyed, 7.3% cited availability as the most important issue among various frictions.

In a recent column, PYMNTS’ Karen Webster noted that the battle being fought at the checkout over loyal customers and more fickle shoppers is being won by those who ‘get’ experience.

“Innovators who are focused on the transformation of checkout are already thinking past wallets as a form factor to a set of identity and payments credentials that authenticate the user when they log into an app or a connected device at a store, start their connected car or tell their voice assistant to send the same basket of groceries they ordered last week to their home later in the day,” Webster wrote.

See also: How to Catch the Next Wave of Digital Transformation

New PYMNTS Study: How Consumers Use Digital Banks

A PYMNTS survey of 2,124 US consumers shows that while two-thirds of consumers have used FinTechs for some aspect of banking services, just 9.3% call them their primary bank.


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