Episerver: Personalization is a higher priority than privacy for online shoppers

Online shoppers are at odds with their desire for personalized digital experiences from brands and their demand for privacy, according to new data from digital experience company, Episerver and its fourth-annual Reimagining Commerce research report. While 53% of global consumers want brands to place a higher priority on respecting their online anonymity in 2020, 61% want companies to prioritize personalization as much as they did last year.

The survey of more than 4,000 online shoppers in five countries indicates that personalization – when brands use customer data to provide a relevant digital experience to individuals – is positive for both retailers and customers. A quarter of respondents, for example, said they’ve returned to a retail website to make a purchase after being retargeted with ads because the ads reminded them of what they wanted to buy.

Personalized content recommendations, product recommendations, triggered messages and product search are proven to dramatically increase retail key performance indicators, but data consent is key.

The concern among consumers around their data privacy and online security is preventing once-promising selling channels from reaching mass appeal. Voice commerce, often predicted to radically disrupt e-commerce, for instance, declined year over year from 17% to just 7% this year.

Also in Episerver’s 2019 report, 22% of respondents used voice-assisted devices to research a product or service multiple times a month, but that figure dropped to only 8% in 2020. The future doesn’t look much brighter, with 33% of consumers reporting that lack of security features will stop them from making more purchases via voice-enabled devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Instead, consumers are still turning to their loyal smartphone to browse and buy, particularly the millennial generation. Episerver data shows mobile-native millennials default to smartphones when shopping online more than any other generation. In fact, no other age group broke the half mark for primary reliance on their smartphones. Nearly half (48%) of daily shoppers across generations have significantly increased their reliance on their smartphones for shopping in the last year, but mobile conversion rates have still not caught up to those for desktop.

Other findings include:

  • 53% of consumers who said they shop online every day rely on their smartphones.
  • 18% of baby boomers choose to shop on their smartphones over other devices.
  • 36% of consumers who only shop once a year use their smartphones, with laptops as the second most common choice at 31%.

Companies are facing a digital experience paradox. Digital is a necessity to compete, but it’s getting more difficult and expensive to compete on digital alone as the golden standard for digital experience isn’t right for every company and customer, and yet the requirements keep increasing. We’ve been sold on experience, but hindsight is 20/20. Understanding what customers want, giving them control over how and where their data is used, and leading them to the next best content and action is how retailers ultimately solve for these contradictions.

Alex Atzberger, CEO, Episerver