Lost Value in Customer Authentication Frustration [Survey]

Beyond Identity Blog | Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Key Findings

  • 12% of online consumers will abandon their cart when asked to make an account before purchasing an item.
  • 82% of online consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a website if they have an online account with the vendor.
  • 84% of online consumers report experiencing password fatigue from account creation.
  • Almost 70% have stopped using a service because of a publicized breach or a breach that happened to them.

The recent upsurge of online shopping has brought with it a rise in customer anguish over account creation and lost passwords. Combined with a 1,280% rise in cyberattacks on retail companies in just the past year, the question of data security is foremost for most online sellers. Online shoppers, on the other hand, simply choose to take the path of least resistance. They either avoid making an account altogether, preferring to check out as a guest, or they just abandon their cart. This is a lost revenue opportunity for any online business.

We decided to find out how online shoppers feel about having to create accounts and remember passwords for each new e-commerce platform they visit. We asked about their experience as well as their habits around password recovery and management for online shopping. Based on the responses of over 1,000 consumers, it can be safely concluded that passwords are the number one hurdle for account creation and transactions.

Online shoppers simply do not want to spend time creating new accounts. They also do not like having to create and remember long and complicated passwords. Passwords are often stored insecurely and are also often shared with friends and family. Even with everyone’s best interests at heart, the account creation and password management issue is one that affects both businesses and customers alike. Read on to explore frustration and friction in account creation.

Does Creating Accounts Create Problems?

Starting with the first step of many online checkout platforms, we asked our responders how they felt about the new account registration process.

online shoppers react to online account registration

The overall response to this query showed that customers will use any means necessary to avoid registering a new account. Over half said they will choose to check out as a guest, and some admitted to even abandoning their cart. Forgoing the purchase seems easier to them than having to set up yet another account online.

The most common reason cited to explain this account avoidance was that it is faster to check out as a guest. Almost a quarter said they struggle to remember passwords, and nearly half felt they already have too many accounts. Even existing customers will often give up and abandon their cart if they cannot remember a password or recover their account (39%). As many as 76% claimed that they often give up because of issues with resetting their password.

Securing Online Accounts

Creating an account is one thing, keeping it secure is another. The next part of our study takes a look at perceptions of online shopping account security.

online shoppers security sentiment

Of the 1,000+ individuals who responded to the survey, an overwhelming majority of 84% reported feeling fatigued by all the passwords they have to set up and remember. When asked about how they viewed the security of the sites requiring account creation versus ones that did not, almost half said both are equally secure, while the roughly other half felt password-protected sites are more secure.

It seems that at least half of the customers did not really care either way if the website is secured with a password. A small 4% sliver even believed that websites that ask for a password are less secure than ones that do not.

According to their self-reported experience, the most annoying part about passwords was the specific requirements to be met, such as special characters and minimum length. This makes passwords hard to remember, and it is not surprising that the next most annoying point reported was forgetting these passwords.

However, this does not mean that customers do not care about their privacy. A large majority (68%) said that they have stopped using a service because of a publicized data breach or one that happened to them.

Password Practices

With different requirements from platform to platform, keeping track of passwords can be tough. We next wanted to know how well people managed their various online shopping accounts. 

online shoppers password protection habits

According to our survey, the average online shopper reported having at least five accounts to which they have forgotten the password. Those platforms will likely not see much of the business these customers will generate for other platforms where they can easily log in.

It seems many customers have tried to avoid these password complications by turning to convenience. Sixty-three percent admitted to using simple passwords for online shopping, and 58% used the same security questions often or always across multiple platforms. This makes them vulnerable to account takeover fraud if just one of these experiences a breach. Account takeover fraud describes a situation in which a bad actor gains unauthorized access to a customer's account typically via password-based attacks including brute force, credential stuffing, phishing, and malware. However, it appears convenience is almost always chosen over security by online shoppers.

Almost half admitted to sharing their passwords with their family, and a quarter shared with their friends. More than half said they store their passwords on their computers, such as on their browsers, and almost half admitted that they often need to reset passwords when they want to log in. These users generally stopped using a platform when they could not remember the password or were unable to log in for some reason.

Your Potential Password Problem Solution

Online shoppers and passwords just don’t seem to mix very well. It is an understandable sentiment when most of our lives are becoming digital. We have to create more accounts online for everything – news and entertainment, essentials and consumables, travel services, financial services, and much more.

Studies have shown us that the average person can have as many as 100 passwords to remember. Human memory can be trained to be amazing, but the average person is not really good at remembering random strings of numbers and letters

At Beyond Identity, we provide passwordless customer authentication that fortifies security while eliminating customer friction.  We enable you to keep your customer accounts secure and easy to access with zero-friction, fundamentally secure passwordless multi-factor authentication (MFA). Forget complicated traditional MFA that requires a second device and puts customers through the hassle of meeting differing password requirements. Know who is behind every device and stop unapproved users from accessing customer accounts. Learn more about how authentication can win customers and keep them coming back at https://www.beyondidentity.com/solutions/customers.

Methodology and Limitations

For this project, we surveyed 1,024 online consumers to find out more about their shopping, account registration habits, and preferences. The average age of respondents was 37 years old. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 80 years old. Fifty-six percent of respondents identified as men, 43% were women, and less than 1% identified nonbinary. An attention-check question was used to identify and disqualify respondents who failed to answer questions in their entirety.

There are problems with self-reported surveys, which include but are not limited to attribution, telescoping, recency bias, and selective memory.

Fair Use Statement

We freely share these findings on online shopping habits and would encourage you to share the information with friends or family who might find it helpful. You are welcome to use any of the information here for noncommercial purposes; all we ask is that you link back to this page when doing so.