Shoppers claim to be impatient - but are they?

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Shoppers claim to be impatient - but are they?
Tell 'em it could be worse!

A survey of Australian consumers suggests they are not prepared to wait very long at a physical or online checkout. But should business owners take this data with a grain of salt?

Payment service provider First Data Merchant Solutions Australia surveyed 1000 consumers and found 24 percent were prepared to wait no more than a couple of minutes at a physical checkout, and 41 percent said they would wait a maximum of one minute for their online purchase to be processed.

Within each of those groups, around half said they would leave the store or abandon the purchase.

We suspect respondents were making themselves appear more impatient than they really are. If you've just spent half an hour filling your supermarket trolley, are you really going to start from scratch at another store just because you've queued for two and a half minutes? Probably not. We would like to see the results of a study that actually watched people in stores to see how long they would wait before abandoning their purchases.

If you've filled up with petrol, are you entitled to drive off without paying just because the queue at the counter is more than two minutes long? Definitely not!

And once you've entered your card details and clicked the 'confirm' or similar button at an online store, the transaction will most likely complete even if you do close the window. All it means is that you don't get the confirmation number for the transaction.

A more real risk is to repeat business. The survey found one-fifth of the 24 percent that said they wouldn't wait more than two minutes would not return to the store, and nor would more than one quarter of the 41 percent that baulked after a one-minute online wait.

Can you really afford to annoy five or ten percent of your customers to the extent that they don't want to do business with you again, just because you couldn't take their money quickly enough?

The First Data survey also looked at in-store payment options, with findings that are broadly consistent with PayPal's survey a couple of months ago.

First Data found that more than a quarter of consumers do not carry enough cash for routine purchases such as groceries, petrol and eating out. If they do not have enough cash and the store does not have an EFTPOS card terminal, half the respondents would not make the purchase, and 39 percent would leave the store. We're left wondering what the remainder do - perhaps talk a companion into paying for the transaction? Or go to the nearest ATM for some cash?

PayPal's similarly-sized survey found a quarter of respondents refuse to shop at cash-only businesses, and more than half find them hard to deal with.

"We're certainly not a cashless society yet, though the trend is clear that we are seeing consumers increasingly rely on card payments. What many businesses are failing to realise is that by not providing these payment options, they risk losing a significant portion of their potential customer base," said Sam Itzcovitz, head of global business solutions at First Data Australia and New Zealand.

There was no indication whether First Data conducted the survey in house or used the services of a reputable research company.

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