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.
Many business owners are notoriously pushed for time, often taking on a multitude of tasks and duties. Dependant on size, this can include running the marketing department, organising logistics, and ensuring the best customer service is being delivered, all at the same time. Unsurprisingly, with so many different facets of a company to be managing, payments processing is not always at the forefront of merchants’ minds. But the fact is it should be, as optimising payments is an essential component in many aspects of the business journey and it should not be overlooked.
By optimising payments, you have the power to create a profoundly positive effect on the user experience (UX), transaction conversion, and provide merchants with crucial data to improve their operations. What’s more it can also enable merchants to monitor their costs efficiently, if they work with the most competitive acquirer for each payment method used by consumers.
Ignoring payments optimisation risks not only alienating and losing customers but also inefficient management of their costs by missing important savings on acquiring fees.