Consumers share their top frustrations about online retail purchasing

People say they've abandoned purchases at online retail stores because of the hassle of dealing with passwords, according to the FIDO Alliance.

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Purchasing an item online seems like it should be an easy and fluid process. But that's not always the case. Imagine that you find a product you want to buy at a site you've used only occasionally or have never even used before. That means another account and another password to remember or create. And based on a survey from the FIDO Alliance, that obstacle alone may cause you to dump your shopping cart.

SEE: Online or In-Store? Exploring the Shift in Shopping Behavior (PDF) (TechRepublic)

Based on a survey of 1,000 consumers in the US, a report published on Thursday by the FIDO Alliance pointed to passwords as the top cause of frustration among online buyers. Some 58% of the respondents said they've abandoned purchases due to the difficulty of managing passwords.

More specifically, they canceled sales transactions either because they couldn't remember their password or because they were being forced to create a new account and password just to make the purchase.

The survey also revealed why people hesitate to set up a new account, either for the initial purchase or for repeat business. Among the respondents, 40% said they don't want their financial information stored in the databases of online retailers. Some 34% don't want to have to enter billing and personal data. And 28% circled back to passwords, saying that having to devise and remember a new password would prevent them from creating an account.

As the FIDO Alliance is a strong proponent of biometric authentication, that topic naturally was addressed in the survey questions. Most of those surveyed say they overwhelmingly prefer if retailers would make sales transactions simpler by supporting fingerprint or facial recognition. Some 68% of the respondents said they feel that on-device authentication methods are quicker than those that use two-factor authentication, which requires both a password and a PIN or one-time password.

Further, 60% of the consumers said they feel that retailers that offer on-device authentication care more about the customer experience, 58% feel they're more concerned about user privacy, and 61% feel they care more about user security. Some 60% also revealed that they would be more likely to recommend such retailers to friends and family.

"Many common online retail practices, like setting up new passwords and accounts, are being rejected by consumers and consequently are hurting retailers' bottom lines," Andrew Shikiar, executive director at the FIDO Alliance, said in a press release.

"These outdated processes introduce friction into an experience that people rightfully expect to be as smooth as possible. While historically there has been little that merchants can do other than to be frustrated at password-related losses, that is no longer the case – and retailers need to look for new solutions to removing needless friction from online transactions, or run the risk of losing customers to the competition."

Major tech players such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google have been pushing biometric authentication, in part by supporting FIDO2, a passwordless form of authentication hosted by the FIDO Alliance. Microsoft offers Windows Hello through which people can sign into Windows and supported websites using their fingerprint, face, or a security key. Apple and Google have their own mobile payment apps though which people can use biometric authentication to purchase apps and items at brick-and-mortar stores. But most online retailers are still too reliant on accounts and passwords for authenticating purchases.

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