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Santa’s Gone Digital: Massive Shift to Online Shopping Suggests Retailers Should Prioritise Online Data Security and Customer Experience This Holiday Season

Whether you’ve always been an online shopper or have only just become one because of the pandemic, it looks like this digital shift is here to stay. According to a recent PCI Pal study, a majority of Americans are now official converts to online shopping, and this behavioural shift will last long beyond the COVID-19 era. In a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, 70% of respondents reported plans to continue shopping online for some or most of their shopping even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, though which retailers they shop with will increasingly depend on how secure a business is.

For retailers, this is especially important as they prepare for the fast-approaching holiday season. Some other findings from our survey:

  • Retailers: Naughty or nice? In order for retailers to stay on consumers’ “nice” list, retailers will need to make sure their security and operations are up to par. Given the quick shift to online-only shopping for many retailers, it’s not a huge surprise that consumers are nervous about their online security. Over half (60%) of respondents reported feeling more worried about their data security going into this holiday season — and this can be a make it or break it moment, as 70% reported that they would stop shopping for a few months or indefinitely if a store suffered a data breach. Meanwhile, of the 14% of respondents who said they’re planning to shop with different retailers this holiday season, a majority of respondents reported perceived security or privacy issues (20%) as the cause.
  • Emailing the Elves: Despite the rise in businesses using chatbots to handle customer service requests, consumers are still using traditional channels to make their voices heard. A majority of respondents reported using email (about 36%) and phone (33%) for customer service needs. With customers’ sharing potentially confidential information via these channels, it’s imperative that businesses have the tools they need to receive this information in a secure way through these mediums.
  • Anything but social, Santa. Social media has a mixed reputation – on the one hand, it’s a great place to connect with others; on the other hand, it’s a great place for hackers to steal sensitive information. Not surprisingly, these mixed feelings of social media carry into shopping – over 45% of respondents said they find social media to be the least secure shopping outlet, while 57% find in-store shopping to be the most secure.
  • Once a shopper, always a shopper. If there’s one thing retailers can feel comfortable about, it’s the fact that most respondents plan to shop with the same retailers they typically shop with using digital channels this holiday season (54%), while 32% plan to shop in-store with the same retailers they typically shop with. So brand loyalty certainly remains – and should remain, so long as you are prepared across the right channels to handle sensitive customer information and inquiries.

Retailers have already faced a challenging year, and the last thing they need after surviving through it is a data breach. With many consumers doing their holiday shopping completely online this retail season, it’s imperative that for existing and new customers, businesses deliver a positive, secure customer experience. The good news is that it’s not too late to prepare your business to take payments securely and efficiently. Contact PCI Pal today to learn about how our solutions can protect customer data and your business.

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