Paper or Plastic? Exploring the Way Consumers Pay

Retailers must provide flexible payment options to accommodate evolving consumer behaviors and preferences in today's omnichannel.
Customer Experience

Since Apple Pay's big reveal, the retail space has been abuzz with speculation as to how this emerging innovation will impact consumer behavior. Yet, while many continue to ponder and predict where the future will lie, few have yet to fully comprehend current consumer payment preferences.

SecureNet's recent "The Way We Pay" report examines the buying behavior of the American consumer by drilling down into the preferences that drive purchase decisions across all age groups. The study, which surveyed 750 U.S. consumers, aims to help merchants and others within the payment ecosystem to better understand the perceptions and behaviors of the average American shopper as retailers grapple with the mounting pressure brought on by today's omnichannel environment.

The following statistics underscore consumers' current shopping behaviors and preferences, highlighting key focal points for retailers looking to improve point-of-sale conversions and engagement tactics:

  • On average, 55 percent of consumers have used their mobile devices to research products while in-store, indicating that showrooming remains alive and well. Those ages 18-29 (68 percent) and ages 30-44 (72 percent) engage in such behaviors more frequently than their older counterparts.
  • With regard to showrooming, many shoppers no longer wait until they get home, as 21 percent of those polled have purchased products directly from their smartphones while browsing for the very same items within the physical store location.
  • For shoppers buying online, secure checkout processes remain top of mind, as shoppers ages 45+ rank this as the most important factor affecting their purchase decision, while those consumers ages 18-44 claim it's the second most important aspect.
  • Shoppers favor in-store transactions over online and mobile transaction by a margin of nearly 5 to 1, with those ages 18-29 believing in-store transactions are more secure than online or mobile transactions by a margin of 9 to 1. However, 45 percent of all consumers say they're less likely to shop at stores that have recently experienced data breaches.
  • Seventy-seven percent of those polled claim they'd shop more frequently at retailers that offer customized promotions or discounts based upon past purchases, nearly 1 in 3 shoppers would be more likely to buy online if the retailer would automatically load payment information upon checkout, and 65 percent value the ability to buy online and return or exchange items in-store.
  • Fifty-six percent of consumers say they carry less that $20 in cash with them at any given time, with 1 out of every 4 Americans using their credit or debit card more than 10 times each week.

Key takeaway: From researching and buying via smartphone in-store, to purchasing online and returning items in person, it's clear that today's shopping experience knows no boundaries. Thus, retailers must be sure to establish a seamless shopping experience that reaches across all existing channels in order to retain business and maximize revenue. Because consumers have such quick access to product information and availability, few have the patience to wait for items they can readily find elsewhere. Retailers must, therefore, provide consumers with an array of options to ensure they don't defect to the competition. Businesses must also offer payment methods that align with consumer preferences, as shoppers wish to have the freedom to complete their transactions in any way they see fit. Safety and trust are paramount when developing long-term relationships, so retailers must enhance the customer experience by allowing individuals the opportunity to dictate how and where they want to interact.