British shoppers are taking to new technologies enthusiastically as they browse and pay for goods and services, according to a study by VeriFone, which suggests that these advances carry with them a greater need for retailers to offer promotions and incentives consistently across all channels to help maintain brand loyalty and provide positive customer experiences. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Overall, it found that familiarity with new payment methods is rising; 38% of respondents in London were either very or somewhat familiar with contactless payments, and 21% were very or somewhat familiar with mobile wallets. Yet cash remains the primary choice of payment in the UK for 65% of the respondents, followed by chip and PIN transactions and online payment methods.

Conducted among 1,085 UK adults by Censuswide, the survey gives a view of consumer attitudes toward in-store and online shopping experiences, and how they want to be treated by retailers. It also examined the extent to which the application of new technology in retail environments has shifted expectations and customer satisfaction.

The effect of the rising prominence of technology in retail experiences is clear, with 56% of respondents saying the breadth of new ways to pay in-store is important to them. Three out of 10 supported improvements made in the range of payment methods at the point of sale, while 32% saw mobile applications that stored card details as important or very important.

The results also show that e-commerce continues to evolve and bring new opportunities to retailers, with in-store (75%) and online (72%) shopping now practically equal in popularity. However, only 10% of respondents had shopped by mobile phone. And, the same number said they now expect less human interaction because of new technology, showing that the personal touch remains crucial to the retail experience.

New technologies, new expectations
The introduction of more technology has also shifted expectations, with consumers wanting retailers to use it to enhance their marketing and the way discounts are offered. Better sales promotions or discounts are now expected by 35% of respondents in exchange for their loyalty through a more connected approach to commerce, and 32% expect to be treated consistently across all payment methods, marketing channels and whether shopping in-store or online.

"We are seeing UK consumers begin to take to new technologies with enthusiasm, indicating that mass adoption won't be far away," said June Felix, President of Europe for VeriFone. "However, shoppers also want to feel that retailers value and understand them more because of these technologies. Therefore, it's imperative for these new technologies to provide a connected commerce experience that is clear and relevant to the consumer. Otherwise, retailers risk frustrating and even eroding trust with their customers."

"Security has become a primary and integral part of that experience both for e-commerce and in-store, with retailers expected to assure the same level of protection wherever or however people shop. The age of the customer is also a consideration. We found that the older a person is, the more worried they are that their shopping will lead to a personal data breach or fraud. Retailers need to find ways to continue to improve the retail experience and in particular reduce wait times-without compromising security in any way," she said.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Online shopping has become ingrained in daily life, with 81% of respondents inputting card details online regularly or fairly regularly.
  • Loyalty card schemes have a huge impact on meeting consumer needs, with 78% rating them as important in improving the way they shop. Point of sale technologies and processes will need to become more integrated with marketing and promotional benefits in order to sustain customer loyalty between purchases.
  • When asked about what factors most contributed to a negative shopping experience, 73% cited having to queue to pay, while 75% indicated price as the biggest factor in a happy shopping experience.
  • Although 49% believed speed of purchase was more important than security in-store, security of online transactions was seen as more important, for 35%, than speed of purchase.
  • Simplicity with assured security is important, as 23% said payment devices being easy to use was their primary concern.