Consumers Unforgiving of Merchants’ Data Failings

New research has revealed that most American consumers who shop online will cease doing business with a merchant that mishandles their data.

The finding emerged from the May 2021 Securing eCommerce study, carried out by PYMNTS.com in collaboration with NuData, which surveyed a census-balanced panel of nearly 2,400 American consumers.

Shoppers were quizzed about their online buying habits and asked to share how they felt about a variety of related subjects, including data security. 

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64.9%) said that they “are likely to terminate their relationships with merchants after experiencing even a single instance of data theft or payment fraud."

Seniors and baby boomers were particularly unforgiving when it came to data security, with 80.2% stating that they would drop a merchant who failed to safeguard their data.

Generation Z were the most laid-back group of online shoppers in their response to data theft and fraud, but researchers noted that more than half of them (52.8%) would still ditch a merchant over a data breach.

Researchers found that the shift toward online shopping caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had led to increased anxiety over data security.

"Consumers are growing more anxious about their personal data being stolen, and their unease grows more acute as they spend more time shopping online," states the report. 

"Forty-eight percent of all consumers say they are more concerned about data security than they were before the pandemic began, but this figure is as high as 57 percent among consumers who are buying more online than they were before the pandemic.”  

According to the study, online consumers are wont to pin the blame for data security gaffes squarely on the shoulders of merchants. 

A PYMNTS spokesperson said: "The Securing eCommerce study contains example after example of the new consumer mindset regarding who’s minding their data—or at least who they blame if something happens to that data. 

"The onus is clearly on merchants, more than banks or even card networks, to get it right."

The study found that shoppers want merchants to provide money-back guarantees and share the steps they are taking to protect consumers’ personal data from fraud or theft.

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