The payments industry moves fast. Consumers want seamless payment options, and businesses want those options to be easy to manage. Technology continues to evolve to meet these expectations, bringing new opportunities for merchants to win customers and build loyalty with payment experiences that are convenient, quick and safe.
Here are four strategies for merchants to consider when crafting a winning customer experience strategy in this fast-paced environment.
1. Meet your customers where they are
Customers today have a wide range of shopping options to choose from. Meeting them in the places where they want to buy—both in-store and online—requires the building and maintaining of a seamless and effective omnichannel strategy. Merchants should have a presence in key online areas if they want to help more customers find them.
In 2021, global social commerce sales reached $492B, which is expected to nearly triple to $1.2T by 2025.1 Today, merchants have more opportunities to use social media to drive commerce than ever. Platforms like Facebook Shop, Instagram Shopping, Pinterest Shopping and TikTokShop allow consumers to immediately buy what they see on social without leaving an app or platform to visit a business' website, making it easier to turn their wants into buys. The result is a quicker path to purchase with less friction and more on-demand action.
The next evolution of eCommerce, live commerce includes shopping experiences that leverage live streaming video and live chat. Live commerce first took off in China, and the market there is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58.3% over the next three years, exceeding 4.9 trillion yuan (approximately $700B) in 2023.1 Like social media, live commerce gives shoppers the ability to buy a product as soon as they see it. Embedded payment links and QR codes in live commerce streams make it even easier to encourage sales.
Gaming, co-creativity and social interaction are some of the many ways early adopters are reimagining customer experiences using the metaverse. The metaverse presents a major benefit for customers: no one needs to carry a wallet, so transactions can be truly frictionless. For merchants, the metaverse allows them to deepen their relationships with customers and build loyalty.
In 2021, purchases made on mobile devices outpaced legacy desktop for the first time—accounting for 52% of global eCommerce transaction value—and research projects that eCommerce’s global transaction value will reach $8.3T by 2025.2 This new era of the mobile majority comes along with rapidly expanding mobile commerce options and rising customer expectations for seamless (and sometimes even flawless) payment experiences. High priority should be given to optimizing mobile strategies to deliver the best customer experience.
2. Let customers pay the way they want
Customers want payment options that feel easy and intuitive, and they may avoid or abandon checkout experiences that feel overly complicated. Shoppers now have many payment options that include traditional methods like cash, debit and credit cards, as well as new and emerging technologies. Acceptance signage is a simple and effective way merchants can encourage sales by letting customers know they can use their preferred way to pay.
Once driven by rapid adoption in the Asia-Pacific region, growth and interest in contactless payments rose during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now consumers everywhere are turning to mobile wallets at the point of sale (POS). Digital wallets are projected to attain at least a 25% share of transaction value in every global region and account for a 53% share of global eCommerce transaction value by 2025.2
Super apps offer a wide range of services under one platform, such as messaging, eCommerce, transportation, and mobile payments. Big tech, big retail and well-funded fintechs use super apps to capture more of a customer's payments. These include apps like PayPal, Square, Venmo and Amazon in the United States and North America, and apps like Norway's Vipps, Denmark's MobilePay and Finland's Pivo. Merchants who understand that they are competing against super apps can develop strategies to either win against or work with them.
Buy now, pay later (BNPL)
BNPL has become a mainstream payment method worldwide in just a few years. It is now the fastest-growing payment method in both eCommerce and POS, projected to account for over $1.3T in transactions globally.2 BNPL appeals to young consumers, and merchants appreciate the higher conversion rates from consumers who want flexible payment choices. Large retailers are partnering with buy now, pay later providers like Affirm and Klarna to enhance their POS systems.
3. Stay ahead of payment technology breakthroughs
Payment technology is accelerating to meet customers where they are physically, digitally and virtually, delivering payment experiences that match where and how they want to shop. Some of these tools may feel out-of-reach now, but merchants can work closely with their acquirer to keep up with these innovations and ensure they are ready for shifts in customer preferences.
Real-time payments are initiated, cleared and settled within seconds between bank accounts at any time, any day of the week, including weekends and holidays. The speed and transparency of real-time payments provides customers with a clear picture of their finances. For merchants, real-time payments can improve liquidity and cash flow.
Open banking makes it possible for consumers to network their accounts and data across institutions to access their credit and manage their money seamlessly. It is also the mechanism behind financial apps that connect to consumers’ data to provide services like mortgage lending, stock trading, bill pay and buy now, pay later transactions.
Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs)
CBDCs are digital currency issued by a country’s central bank. Unlike unregulated and decentralized cryptocurrencies, the value of CBDCs is fixed by the central bank and equivalent to the country’s fiat currency. A rapidly evolving tool, CBDCs are already used for cross-border payments and remittances. They may potentially increase accessibility, convenience, financial security, privacy and transferability for both merchants and customers.3
4. Personalize the payment experience
Personalization in the digital world is becoming an expectation among consumers, and that expectation extends to the ways they like to pay. Merchants now have the tools to provide customers with payment methods and localization that match specific preferences, such as local currency payments, language functionality and preferred checkout methods. Savvy merchants can incorporate personalization at checkout to increase the likelihood of a purchase.
Standard personalization uses data analytics to deliver targeted marketing and sales messaging to various customer segments. Hyper-personalization drills down to the profile of an individual customer. Using a combination of predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, hyper-personalization leverages individual customers’ real-time data—such as which phrases they commonly search, what content they like to view, and their geographic location—to give merchants valuable information they can use to create custom offers for their customers.
Already used by consumers to access their smartphones, biometrics include physical markers like a fingerprint, face or iris. A recent study by global payments found that 86% of consumers are interested in extending the use of biometrics to verify their identity or make payments.1 As more shoppers get comfortable using biometrics, these forms of authentication will enable faster, more secure and frictionless payment options across all channels.
Put customer experience first with support from your payments provider
The latest tools for enhancing and customizing the experiences merchants offer customers present exciting new opportunities. As is the case for all payments technology, protecting data and following security regulations is critical. Your payments and biometrics provider can help you understand your responsibility and walk you through how their technology can help you ensure you are taking every possible measure to safeguard sensitive information.
- FIS. GPR 2023: The Global Payments Report. Viewed 17th July 2023.
- Investopedia. What Is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)? Viewed 31st July 2023.
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.