UK shoppers 'reluctant to give up data despite valuing personalisation'

Half of UK consumers are unwilling to share their personal data with retailers over concerns about how this is being used, with those aged over 55 revealed to be the least willing to provide any data (56 per cent), according to REPL Group.

The retail IT consultancy and technology firm surveyed 1,000 consumers across a range of age groups - varying from 18 to over 65 - finding that despite this reluctance of sharing data, 24 per cent said they would be drawn to those retailers that provide personalised in-store offers.

Mike Callender, executive chairman at REPL, explained consumers have become used to digital shopping experiences over recent months, but many do not understand that this level of personalisation requires them to share their data with retailers.

"To encourage this, brands must be more open about what data they are collecting, how they are storing it and what they are using it for," he stated. "Once they have achieved this, they should look to implement technologies such as machine learning to deliver value back to their customers, by ensuring they have the right products in stock or providing offers tailored to the individual - this will be extremely useful in helping to draw people back to the high street when it is once again safe to do so."

The research revealed that for many confined to lockdown, social media apps have been providing a ‘window shopping’ service, with almost half (46 per cent) of 25 to 34 year-olds having bought something directly through social media, compared with 15 per cent of over 55 year-olds.

REPL stated that while online shopping has been a lifeline for consumers during the pandemic, the current model is not sustainable in the long-term, as over a third (36 per cent) of consumers said they have bought multiple items online in one order with the intention of returning some. This figure rose to over half (56 per cent) among 25 to 34 year-olds.

“Shopping with the intention of returning items is having a significant environmental impact, however, very few seem to be conscious of this, with 60 per cent of consumers saying they don’t consider it when purchasing," pointed out Callender.

Prior to deliveries becoming essential, retailers like ASOS began introducing returns policies which deactivate the accounts of serial returners if there’s a pattern of them deliberately buying multiple items and returning them.

"Other retailers should follow suit and use the data they have available to them to identify serial returners and explore ways in which they can appeal to these customers and help cut this down," concluded Callender. "For example, if the customer appears to be buying the same item in multiple sizes, using product information, customer data and AI, the retailer could make recommendations about which size is likely to be right, reducing wasted returns."

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