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Many online shoppers are using guest checkout over data privacy fears

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Fears about data privacy and identity theft (opens in new tab) are driving online shoppers to use guest accounts when buying goods from websites, a new survey has found.

A poll carried out by Empathy.co questioning 4000 consumers about their online shopping habits found that over 40% were concerned about what happens to their data both during, and after, the e-commerce (opens in new tab) purchasing journey.

Another key discovery from the survey shows just how much value consumers place on respected brands. The data reveals that 20% are more willing to share their personal information with brands that they favour. More importantly for online businesses (opens in new tab), 22% said they are more likely to spend more with brands and websites they have faith in.

The main issue that breeds mistrust in consumers, based on those surveyed, is what companies do with the customer data they receive, even if it is based on perception rather than fact. Of those polled, 40% said they felt uneasy about being asked for unnecessary or sensitive personal data. A further 28% stated that, on reflection about data protection (opens in new tab), they’d like to get back information already given to brands that they didn't like or trust.

Personal data

There was more uneasiness from consumers about having to accept legal notices during transactions, with 37% wanting more control of the data given to businesses. However, 13% reported that they had no concerns about handing over their personal data. 

Being remembered by businesses that tailor shopping experiences and other customer preferences to site visitors doesn't seem to be a priority either; only 1 in 10 said the use of cookies (opens in new tab) and other website tech was important to them.

At the same time, many of those questioned were wary of major players in the online shopping and social media (opens in new tab) arena. Of those polled, 18% felt that Facebook’s purpose was to spy on consumers and sell advertising. In addition, 12% felt that Amazon knowingly make cheap copies of products that appear on its shopping website.

Angel Maldonado, CEO, Empathy.co said: “With the global pandemic forcing the majority of consumers to shop online, there has been a surge in demand for privacy, security and a clear increase in fears over data security.

In fact, data privacy is of such importance in today’s climate that just promising to not misuse data is no longer enough, and brands need to show that they’re behaving ethically and that they are using customer data responsibly.

Therefore, improving digital experiences and e-commerce platforms so that they are transparent and act with customer care in mind is imperative to improving brand power and showcasing trust.”

Rob Clymo
Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.