A seamless payments process can mean the difference between winning and losing an online sale, yet all too often retailers are failing to make it easy.
As featured in The Times’ ‘Future of Ecommerce 2021’.
The pandemic has thrown many aspects of retail into sharp relief, but few things more so than the experience of making a payment online. As shops have faced prolonged closures, demand for online shopping has risen dramatically. In the UK, ecommerce grew by 46% year on year in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics. That has been difficult even for websites with a mature ecommerce offering. For retailers that previously only had a physical presence, they have had to adapt by setting up websites at lightning speed. That, in turn, has had an impact on payments. Trends that had been progressing steadily have suddenly leapt forward, leaving some retailers struggling to keep pace. This is an issue because as shoppers increasingly head online they have become pickier, showing greater willingness to abandon their purchases if the process takes too long. Fraud concerns have also risen because cyber criminals have a much wider pool of potential victims to target. Meanwhile, concepts such as ‘contactless’, ‘cashless’ and ‘buy-now-pay-later’ have moved from the margins into the mainstream, forcing retailers to rethink their offers.
‘A new paradigm’
Those using the right payments solutions have found it easier to adapt and capitalise on the growing demand. Elavon, a top five European payment provider, is one of the operators leading the way with an offer encompassing everything from card processing, point-of-sale and payment gateways to mobile wallet and compliance solutions. “The pandemic has changed the entire payments ecosystem. No one expects everything to go back to the way it was,” says Elavon’s head of retail, Michael Bosshammer. “Instead, what’s likely to follow is a world in which the pre-existing trends co-exist with a totally new paradigm.” As a unified payments provider, Elavon aims to make the shopping experience more seamless for retailers in an increasingly competitive landscape. For example, it integrates with a wide range of technical partners to ensure its clients can accept all types of payments online, on mobile and in-store. It also offers a simple, no-hassle on-boarding process for its technology, so retailers can focus on what matters most: maximising revenue opportunities and offering transparent and competitive pricing.
Elavon also strikes a delicate balance between upholding best-in-class security standards and reducing friction at checkout. Its payment optimisation product, for example, minimises steps during checkout for customers by using sophisticated risk assessment and fraud management protocols to enable secure and frictionless payments. That means consumers can have the highest confidence their transactions are safe, and are less likely to abandon their carts or leave a website prematurely. All ecommerce platforms will have to grapple with this issue as the EU’s Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) is phased in, says Bosshammer. “PSD2 requires any retailer serving the European Economic Area to introduce two-factor authentication to keep customers safe when making payment transactions online,” he explains. “But Elavon’s solutions already use the latest technology to enable real-time risk analysis to prevent fraud, rather than more time-consuming authentication processes, meaning a frictionless experience.
In a fast-changing world, retailers need to adapt quickly and payment providers must respond. As such, Elavon has partnered with a host of trusted providers of payment terminals, electronic cash registers, enterprise software (ERP) and payment apps to offer tailored solutions quickly and cost efficiently. For example, recognising the rise of the buy-now-pay-later trend, it partnered with Laybuy to give consumers looking to balance their budgets an additional way to purchase. The partnership supports online shopping journeys while also enabling consumers to tap their contactless smartphone for in-store purchases using the Laybuy app. Customers pay off the balance in six weekly instalments, interest-free. “The service cost is borne by the merchants, but they benefit from increased basket totals, reduced abandonment at the point of purchase and an uptick in returning customers,” says Bosshammer. More than a third of consumers say they will continue to shop for most items online, even after social restrictions are lifted. But while the market is growing, the competition is also on the rise. Retailers must respond to customer expectations or face being left behind. Offering a truly flexible and secure payment experience will be integral to achieving this.