Has E-Commerce Killed Customer Loyalty?

For retailers, brand retention and building a loyal customer base is important, especially as online shopping has made the retail space more competitive. According to data collected by Accenture, not only has it become more convenient, it’s also make consumers more fickle shoppers, as brand devotion hits its lowest totals in a decade.

The survey data collected by Accenture, as well as from Colloquy in October 2014, reveals that 56 percent of consumers increased the number of brands they would consider over the last decade, with 50 percent saying they would be more likely to switch brands should need and convenience merit the switch. This is due to online shopping making it easier to compare prices for the same product, as well as the new tendency of shoppers to spend the time researching a product online before making a purchase, rather than being lured in by a well-decorated window display. Survey data shows that 78 percent of consumers first look online to research potential goods providers.

In terms of brand loyalty, only 28 percent of respondents considered themselves “very loyal” to a specific company, while 31 percent would recommend a specific retailer to a friend. Yet despite the low figures for consumer loyalty, over 60 percent say they would use loyalty programs if they came with extra benefits, like connecting bank cards with programs rather than using a specific loyalty card for every store. This would allow for rewards to be accumulated in the natural course of shopping with minimal friction.

Also important, and related to greater integration in loyalty programs, are retailers bulking up on digital channels to attract customers in the new shopping model. According to eMarketer’s interpretations of the Accenture and Colloquy data, consumers determine where to shop through word of mouth first before proceeding to online sources for information pre-purchase. This makes it more crucial for businesses to maintain a strong digital presence to lure shoppers in, as well as an active mobile presence that can increase customer engagement, and subsequently, increase same-store sales.