In this three-part series, Wirecard discusses global trends in e- and m-commerce and offers ideas and tips for leveraging those trends – AI, the Internet of Things, and more – to scale your business and provide a truly 21-century customer service experience that consumers worldwide are coming to expect. In Part 1, we looked at some innovations that will be key to answering consumers’ demand for speedy payments.
In Part 2, we propose a new perspective on the payment moment – as not just a formality but as an integrated part of the entire shopping experience. And we present ways merchants can leverage payments to strengthen relationships, build loyalty, and convert more.
Payments have always been a small piece of the retail journey – the defining and critical moment of exchange of goods and services for currency. In fact, that is basically what payment used to be. Today we’ve moved far beyond that, to a world in which payment is a barely noticeably blip in a complex consumer landscape and a critical leverage point for merchants. This is partly because so many types of devices commonly enter the picture at some point in the shopping process, from research to price comparison to purchase and everything after.
According to Google Analytics, 40 percent of online transactions happen on mobile devices. Retail spend with smartphones in the US was $7.8 billion in 2012; in 2018 it’s predicted to be $93.5 billion. And in-store mobile payments are expected to reach $503 billion by 2020. The retail journey now takes place not just anywhere, anytime, on any device – but everywhere, all the time, on all devices as well as face to face.
And so, we can say with confidence that there are no more silos. The experience of payment has spread across media – and so it becomes that much more important to make it seamless and invisible.
At the same time, balancing a truly seamless and frictionless experience with security and trust requires a strategy that equally considers new technologies, consumer behavior and loyalty, and risk mitigation across geographic and industry borders. We admit, that’s a tall order. To help guide you, here are six factors to consider when building a flexible payment platform that puts consumers first.
- Streamline the customer’s path from browse to bought – and create opportunities to connect with you at every stage. Once you understand who your average customer is, you can create appropriate physical and virtual retail experiences that mirror each other. Make products and services easy to find in the store, on the website, on the mobile web, or in the app. On all channels, build in real-time support that’s easy to access but unobtrusive.
- You might also want to reconsider your loyalty program. While the average American consumer belongs to 13 loyalty and rewards programs, they regularly use only three or four. Asking for the minimum necessary personal information to complete a purchase and delaying the invitation to join your rewards program – playing within the bounds of new consumer expectations of relationship – may actually build trust with new customers and motivate repeat purchases.
- Make checkout easier everywhere. Offer alternative methods such as PayPal, Alipay, and mobile wallets, and provide autofill forms for return customers. A huge part of that is building a user experience (UX) that allows customers to change their options based on the channel they use at a given moment: Coming from a mobile device? Make sure your app or website recognizes the customer’s payment account and conspicuously offers one-click buying. It’s also helpful to build a payment UX that can authenticate security details such as fingerprints or other biometrics. Online, take advantage of APIs that facilitate payment directly in the chat window. In store, you may want to rethink the checkout process. Which brings us to…
- Removing the moment of payment from the payment. Integrate digital and in-store experiences with features such as buy online/pick up in store; easy online store locators; and automated, real-time inventory updating. Retailers worldwide are experimenting with AI-driven smart store designs that allow customers to walk in, pick up and scan their selections with their phones, and walk out. (Wirecard’s recent partnership with SES-imagotag is one recent example of the Electronic Shelf Label model.) Less futuristic integrations that are well within reach for most brick-and-mortar shops include leveraging your website or app for enhanced in-store experiences or tablet and mobile POS systems located throughout the store.
- Fast-track trusted repeat customers. Continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment (CARTA) technologies allow retailers to design the checkout experience by customer segment. When the system recognizes a trusted consumer, the payment is processed without a hiccup, and when a purchase deviates from a customer’s typical purchase behaviors, it can raise a flag and ask for more information to verify identity and intent to purchase.
- Scale up – and down. Consumers no longer see geographic borders as obstacles to purchase, so it’s crucial that the payment rails don’t get in the way. For instance, Alipay now partners with US retail outlets, who offer discounts to Chinese tourists for using what is already their preferred payment form. As the marketplace grows larger and more fluid, retailers everywhere will have to accommodate global market preferences and protocols. You can use smart analytics to see where your consumers come from, how they interact with your brand and various channels, and customize the user experience according to location and other preferences – offering easy-to-select or even automated languages, displays, or checkout design based on a given consumer’s data.
The takeaway: Consumers are hungry for easier retail experiences that save them time, convenience, and money. It’s up to retailers and their partners to keep up with their pace – that means going beyond seamless payments. Next-gen retail means fully integrating marketing, loyalty, and payments to connect with consumers authentically, easily, and, yes, seamlessly.