A digital strategy must be at the top of retailers’ agenda this year
By Chris Burnside, Account Manager, Specialty Retail, UK & Nordics Global Sales & Verticals, Worldline
COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on consumers’ shopping habits, driving them from bricks-and-mortar stores to online. This means that eCommerce is fast becoming the main driver for many retailers’ strategies, even those that were traditionally based in store. It is not just national lockdowns that are shaping the retail sector, but recent changes in demographics, innovations in payments, and evolving customers’ needs are too.
The surge in online shopping, price-comparison search engines, online coupons and cashback deals have created a new breed of consumers. They are smart, tech-savvy, hungry for deals and will often conduct their own research before committing to making a purchase. While being on the lookout for a bargain, these connected customers also tend to be bigger spenders and could become lifelong advocates for a brand. This includes interacting with a retailer’s social media accounts and recommending purchases to friends.
As online purchases surge and consumers demand a way of paying for goods online, it’s clear that retailers must be well equipped to survive in these lucrative, yet challenging times.
Today’s customers expect more
Shoppers increasingly expect to be dazzled and delighted by interactivity and connected services, but they also want simplicity and a seamless experience when it comes to payments. These same shoppers also expect that on-site shopping will allow them to mix online and in-store purchasing. For example, improving convenience by allowing them to pick up in-store goods they have ordered online, or providing convenient refund and return policies.
Although demanding, and often in search of a bargain, connected shoppers can increase a retailer’s profits substantially as they have been proven to make higher value purchases compared to other shoppers.
The appeal of online
If any bricks-and-mortar retailer is in doubt of the power of an online presence, they should simply consider the benefits that go along with becoming connected and offering their goods online. Importantly, it creates more ways to target individuals’ needs, from targeted ads or coupons, to personalised gifts for shoppers. These help to drive sales and generate new and repeat customers.
Not only can an online presence provide a tailored experience for customers, but there are also key benefits for the retailer too, and this includes making savings on real estate. As purchases are increasingly made online and the retail space more crowded, this opens up the option of relocating expensive warehousing spaces to cheaper options outside city centres.
Increasing your online presence means that it is easier to create those all-important engagement with your target audience. According to research by Facebook, more than 80% of people use Instagram to research their potential purchases and discover new trends and products.
The challenges of eCommerce
When developing a strong digital strategy for your retail business, there are several challenges to look out for, including online fraud, a lack of local payment methods, no direct support for clients in case of issues or questions, lower authorisation rates and potential IT issues. However, a reliable partner can help mitigate these risks and help retailers to effectively design the registration flow and the checkout experience to retain paying customers and limit fraudsters’ activities.
Advanced partners will be able to provide in-store solutions that offer a unified and safe payment flow that immerses and connects the buyer and seller throughout the financial journey. It constitutes a set of comprehensive hardware and software-based solutions to open up retailers to more customers and boost their sales and conversion levels. Bridging the gap between online and physical stores by introducing digital kiosks, touch screens and VR experiences to the point of sale (POS) transform the shops of today into the shops of the future.
Strong acquiring capabilities are vital
Alongside omnichannel, offering effective, fast, and reliable acquiring services that are tailored to retailers’ needs based on regions and their risk appetite is key. It means the capacity to implement smart routing and switching to effectively optimise authorisation levels.
Developing an online strategy means that retailers will more easily be able to go global with their offering. However, to be able to achieve this, a business must be able to offer local payment methods. While with physical retail, customers are likely to pay for the products they really want whether by card or cash, online sales, especially those in local markets, can be more complex. This is because they will typically choose a specific local payment method that they are accustomed to, whether that is the BLIK in Poland, Sofort in Germany or iDEAL in the Netherlands. By not offering these, it can be a deal-breaker causing people to drop sales and search for stores that have these options at checkout.
The right acquiring capabilities can offer retailers support as they embark upon implementing their digital strategy and guide them through the process. Therefore, with a massive infrastructure and immense experience in the payments industry behind them, the right providers have the capacity to serve customers around the world and provide a seamless payment experience of the future, right here and right now.
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