Payments are essential to every business, but they are not all that meets the eye on a day-to-day basis. Behind every transaction there are multiple players working tirelessly to ensure payments are being made quickly, correctly, and securely. However, as is often the case with so many moving parts, there remains the possibility of error and/or additional time added to the transaction, leaving the customer with a poor experience and make them potentially less likely to return. Additionally, multiple failed transactions can ultimately prove costly for retailers over time.
Making predictions for the year to come is difficult at the best of times. 2020 has been proof of that as we entered unchartered territory across a year that will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on commerce, and the way we pay for goods and services.
Long before the days of COVID-19, shopping in-store had ceased to be a stand-alone experience. Online retail had been rapidly evolving to sit alongside it, creating an omnichannel environment that combines the digital and the physical. However, since UK-wide lockdown and restrictions on movement took effect earlier this year, online retail has shot through the roof – increasing to an unprecedented 2.34 billion by June 2020 - meaning that customers are much more adept at navigating ecommerce stores and combining the two experiences.
Payments processing can be a minefield, especially for merchants that are new to dealing with its complex systems and terminologies. Historically, they’d have to get to grips with every aspect of the system, whether that’s the pad itself, gateways, acquiring or processing, and source suppliers for each aspect of the chain.
Many merchants of all sizes, particularly those operating a smaller business, are hard pushed for time and resources as they focus on ensuring their business not only survives, but thrives. So, how can they take the hassle out of managing payments processing, making it run more effectively, efficiently, and securely, while offering a better user experience for their customers? Here, I’ll explain how.
The most significant shift in the payments industry to evolve from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the sudden fall in the usage of cash. And while the industry as a whole has been aware of the potential for a cashless future for a while, the shift towards contactless and alternative payment methods (APMs), as consumers try to avoid less hygienic payment methods, has got to the point where 50% of customers think that cash will disappear completely at some point in the future.
Increasingly, as the consumer experience moves online, convenience is becoming the number one priority. Not only can consumers shop from the comfort of their homes, but they can have products delivered within days, and sometimes even on the same day.
Due to this, when consumers purchase in-store, they do not then want to be faced with the frustration of queueing, or a payment process that goes on far longer than is deemed necessary. Customers can be put off completing a transaction simply by having to fish out a card to type a series of numbers (pin code) into a payment terminal. The introduction of innovations such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay have made this even more so, with customers’ devices memorising payment details for them, and acting as a contactless card.
As a result, in order to remain competitive and ensure conversions in this fast-paced modern world, retailers are tasked with providing a frictionless experience. But that’s not all. As digital payments systems have developed, so too have data regulations, adding another consideration to merchants’ plates – providing a seamless system without sacrificing security.