Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic furthered an already digital-centric culture, with many relying on smartphones, digital channels and social platforms for information, personal connection, entertainment and shopping. Today’s customers expect personalized service, the convenience of interacting across multiple channels and the payment option of their choice, with 63% more likely to shop with the merchant offering their preferred payment option. Both in-store and online merchants use mobile shopping, curbside pickup, digital profiles, multiple payment options and voice recognition technology to deliver a seamless customer journey.
Digital technology enables retailers to provide the personalized convenience today’s customers demand, and those merchants delivering the best omnichannel shopping and payment options will enjoy a significant competitive advantage.
To keep up with consumers’ expectations for personalized service and convenience when shopping, merchants need to deliver an integrated, omnichannel shopping journey that accommodates an array of payment options both online and in-store.
The COVID-19 pandemic hastened our already digital-centric culture to become even more digitally driven. People rely on their smartphones, social platforms and digital channels for information, entertainment and online purchases.
Adhering with this digital transformation, consumers expect personalized service and convenience when shopping both online and in-store. This includes the ability to interact with a merchant across multiple channels, anytime and from anywhere. To keep up, merchants need to deliver an integrated, omnichannel shopping journey that offers customers payment options.
“Payments choice is the most important feature that shoppers value, regardless of where they are in the world,” concludes a study from PYMNTS and Cybersource, a Visa solution. “All consumers say that having the ability to pay how they want is the most important feature retailers offer.”
Indeed, consumers are 63% more likely to shop with merchants that offer their preferred payment options, according to the report. Clearly, merchants have a strong business incentive to provide customers with a full range of payment methods.
Giving consumers payment and channel options
Fortunately, there are solutions to help merchants ensure they are meeting and even exceeding shopper expectations for an integrated, holistic and seamless shopping experience. For example, a shopper who purchases merchandise via their mobile device or laptop may request curbside pickup. Precision inventory management allows for efficient and accurate fulfillment at the store level and when available for pick-up, the shopper can be notified automatically via push notification or text, conveying shopper pickup ETA or arrival.
A critical step in creating a smooth journey is offering digital profiles that can be accessed by customers across multiple synchronous shopping channels. Digital profiles spare individuals (both in-store and online) from repeatedly having to input information. These profiles also save customer support agents from having to retrieve profile data to facilitate a transaction. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. merchants offered such digital profiles in 2021, up from 52% in 2020, according to the Cybersource report.
The costly awareness gap
Whether the consumer’s preferred payment method is credit card, debit card, digital wallet or eWallet, “buy now, pay later” (BNPL), or online bank transfers, it is critical that merchants make customers aware that these options are available. All other factors being equal, if an individual prefers BNPL, they will take their sale to a retailer that offers that capability.
Similarly, Cybersource data reveals that 54% of U.S. merchants allow shoppers to make purchases using voice-recognition technology, such as Alexa and Google Home. However, only 43% of local shoppers said that the merchant from which they made their most recent purchase offered this capability. This “awareness gap” can cost merchants in the form of lost sales opportunities.
Consumers no longer view shopping as either an in-store or online experience. Technology has blurred the lines to enable a seamless consumer journey that effortlessly traverses multiple devices, platforms and channels.
Today’s consumers want a personalized shopping experience, which includes the ability to pay across traditional and emerging channels and through the payment method of their choice. Merchants that provide this omnichannel shopping and payment experience will gain a competitive advantage.
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