The ‘Malleable Middle’ May Be Sweet Spot Between Deal-Seekers, Loyal Customers

Friction-free transactions could hold the key for retailers and grocers seeking to boost customer retention.

PYMNTS’ research has identified three important customer archetypes, and persuadable shoppers — sometimes-loyal customers or the “malleable middle” between deal-chasers and loyal customers — may be the ideal group for retailers and others to target. Representing 36% of shoppers surveyed, persuadable shoppers are the second largest customer type, only behind self-identified deal-chasers (38%). However, deal-chasers may be a harder group for merchants to retain, as loyalty holds little sway for this group.

The answer to turning these persuadable shoppers into mostly-loyal customers or better may lie in enhancing checkout features to create more frictionless purchase journeys. On the other hand, ignoring checkout features that digital consumers have grown to expect may undermine customer satisfaction and decrease the likelihood of repeat purchases.


Thirty-six percent of persuadable shoppers were dissatisfied with their most recent online checkout experience, meaning there is certainly an opportunity for online merchants to improve the quality of these checkout journeys. Inadequate checkout experiences can quickly mint ex-customers, especially among the persuadable: 64% of persuadable consumers indicated that checkout experience was a relevant factor in their decision to be a repeat customer.

Data protection is another consideration that matters to persuadable consumers in particular, as PYMNTS details in its collaboration with, “At the Checkout: Deal Chasers Versus Loyal Customers.” In it, 85% of persuadable consumers cited data protection as important; 15% prioritized the feature above all others.

Although fraud’s complexity may make authentication solutions that protect data seem difficult to implement, online merchants that follow best practices will be best positioned to sway these consumers. In an interview with PYMNTS’ Owen McDonald, Riskified VP Marina Moraes advises, “One is to only to collect data that is necessary to enhance a shopping experience… Merchants shouldn’t be storing credit card information or other sensitive data on online servers. It’s a best practice to use offline storage and to also treat personally identifiable information (PII) as the most critical data in the organization.”

Addressing checkout friction for some merchants may be as easy as adding a digital shortcut. PYMNTS’ 2022 Buy Button report found that buy buttons save consumers 148 million hours annually during the online checkout process. Over time, the technology is becoming more effective: in Q2 2022, checkouts via buy button took an average 68 seconds, representing a 17% faster checkout time than they achieved in Q4 2020. Merchants already utilizing a buy button on their site may want to see if they can adopt more innovative versions to speed up checkouts.

Although some consumers prioritize deals or familiar retailers, grocers and other online merchants that target the malleable middle population in their customer loyalty strategies — the persuadable shoppers — may find they can garner surprising returns with relatively small initial effort.