When it comes to digital features, there's still room for merchants in the U.K. to make further enhancements.
These findings come from the 2022 Global Digital Shopping Playbook: U.K. Edition, a Cybersource and PYMNTS collaboration based on surveys of more than 13,000 consumers and 3,100 merchants in six countries.1 This comprehensive report shows that U.K. merchants could modernize further to deliver better shopping journeys and boost their revenues.
Let’s look at three key findings that set the U.K. apart from the other countries studied. We’ll examine what’s already working well—and what could work even better.
Smartphones in store
The report shows that smartphones now double as shopping remote controls, with people browsing store aisles while comparing prices, shopping for deals, and looking for alerts about the latest promotions.
This trend is clear in all six countries we surveyed, but the U.K. numbers are somewhat different:
"On average, 42 percent of consumers throughout the six countries we studied used smartphones at some point throughout their most recent shopping experiences. Among British consumers, however, just 35 percent used their smartphones this way, and this figure remained relatively unchanged year over year."1
This is likely due, in part at least, to the popularity of contactless payments in the U.K. The relatively high limit on contactless transactions (£100) means there's less desire from consumers to use mobile-enabled payments in store.
But consumers are often unaware that merchants accept mobile payments and offer other mobile features. Our research shows that 59 percent of U.K. merchants enable use of mobile devices to locate products in the store, but only 27 percent of consumers know this.1 That’s a marketing challenge for those who already cater to smartphone shoppers, and a call to action for those that don't yet do so.
Removing friction from omnichannel experiences
In 2022, shopping is decidedly omnichannel, often beginning at home or on a smartphone, possibly completed in store or on a website, and ending at the customer's front door.
Enabling seamless shopping experiences is a crucial element of retail strategies globally, but there's still potential for U.K. merchants to advance further. For example, our survey found that 56 percent of U.K. merchants enable customers to create digital profiles, which is 12 percent less than the average of the six countries surveyed.1
"U.K. merchants also make it difficult for consumers to know whether a product is available,” the report states, “as 17 percent less than average offer real-time inventory status."1
These gaps earned U.K. merchants an average index score of 89.4, 11 percent less than the average across all six countries.1 The index represents the friction associated with customers' purchasing experiences against the features they consistently rate as critical to their shopping satisfaction. The higher the index score, the better, as it means that consumers encounter less friction when shopping with that merchant.
Our survey found that "U.K. merchants offer consumers a more friction-laden online shopping experience—regardless of whether they are shopping on their computers or phones—than any of the other countries surveyed."1 Of course, reducing friction is only part of the story, as merchants must balance the customer experience against other objectives, such as managing fraud.
It's also worth bearing in mind that the enforcement of PSD2's strong customer authentication (SCA) requirement (not as relevant to the other countries we surveyed) could contribute to the friction reported by U.K. consumers, who might be called upon to provide two-factor authentication at checkout.
Home delivery rules
Even if the consumer experience seems to come with more friction in the U.K. than in the other countries surveyed, the U.K. is ahead of the curve when it comes to home delivery. "Among all the consumers in our study, those in the U.K. show the strongest preference for having their eCommerce orders shipped directly to their homes."1
U.K. merchants who want to counter the preference for home delivery by encouraging the use of click and collect (or buy online, pick up in store) may need to ensure customers are aware of the options available. According to our study, 59 percent of merchants allow consumers to pick up in-store from a kiosk, but only 39 percent of consumers realize this.1
Get more insights
Overall, our report shows that U.K. merchants can streamline the shopping experience by offering consumers more mobile and digital features or by raising awareness of available features. Merchants looking to further reduce friction will, however, need to weigh that aim against other objectives and find the balance that's right for their business and their customers.