Onerous Ecommerce Checkout Processes May Be Driving Millennials Away

Experian study finds desire for frictionless security

42% of millennials would engage in more online transactions if there weren’t so many security hurdles. Getty Images

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Millennials are as concerned about security when making online transactions as any other age group. After all, no one wants to be a victim of fraud. But retailers and other ecommerce companies must make the process as streamlined as possible or risk losing them as customers, according to a survey recently commissioned by information services company Experian.

The survey of 5,500 consumers across several countries, which was intended to learn their attitudes about risk and security practices, found that while two-thirds of all respondents appreciate security protocols during online transactions because they feel protected, 42 percent of millennials would engage in more online transactions if there weren’t so many security hurdles.

Only 30 percent of those 35 and older expressed the same sentiment. Of course, there’s irony in the fact that Experian ran a survey about attitudes on risk three years after the company had a data breach of 15 million users’ information.

Stephanie Ericksen, vice president of identity and risk products at Visa, said the results of the study were consistent with what Visa has been hearing from its costumers, online retailers and bank partners.

“We also believe that while non-millennials may be less averse to additional security hurdles, everyone appreciates a streamlined checkout process,” she said.

Visa conducted a survey of its own, which turned up similar results: 59 percent of respondents abandoned online transactions because their debit or credit cards weren’t close by, 49 percent did so because they couldn’t recall their passwords and 16 percent did so due to the “hassle” of inputting their passwords.

“Millennials and younger consumers are pushing the envelope on how frictionless they want ecommerce and online shopping to be—make it as frictionless as possible, but still embed the type of purchasing signals the consumer would need to see,” said Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at software company Episerver. “This is why pay options like PayPal and Apple Pay get so much uptake.”

So, what is the best course of action for ecommerce sites looking to balance security with ease of use?

“The companies that are going to win are going to be the ones that have an elegant process, a safety paradigm and transparency about how this data is being used,” Experian vp of industry solutions for global fraud and identity David Britton said. “The lack of willingness to put up with draconian security measures is driving businesses to change how they approach security.”

Britton added that despite educational efforts on the part of businesses—particularly larger banks and retailers—72 percent of businesses are seeing the same amount of fraud or more so far in 2018 compared with the prior year, and 84 percent believe that if they can identify the consumer on the front end, they can identify potential fraud on the back end.

Experian analyzes factors such as devices people use and how they gesture on their phones or click on their laptops to help “authenticate and identify individuals without putting the onus on them,” and, Britton said, many of these actions do not require any additional activity from consumers.

“When you start to build a more complex composite of a person from a variety of sources, it becomes more difficult to defeat for the fraudsters,” he said.

Kennedy suggested ecommerce sites refrain from making every consumer provide additional information or reverify their billing address, suggesting that different policies be put in place, such as fraud monitoring at checkout if the cart value is above a certain size.

“Use trust-verification fields and messaging within the checkout process, which results in consumers being told that this is secure transaction,” he said. “Retailers don’t need to add more steps in the process. They can communicate visually. These are little details that oftentimes smaller retailers and brands don’t think of.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.