How to drive a successful payments strategy in 2016

These days more and more people are shopping using their mobile phones. M-commerce is a booming industry which has grown by nearly 80 per cent over the last year.

However, despite this positive growth, m-commerce is being held back by the lack of mobile enabled apps or websites from retailers. A recent survey showed that only 3 per cent of retailers said they are up to speed with being mobile-ready and a staggering 70 per cent said they did not have mobile-enabled websites or apps in place.

A retailer’s website which isn’t mobile-enabled means that those who are attempting to buy products on their mobiles will be faced with lengthy and complicated checkout processes. This results in customers abandoning their basket, also known as cart abandonment, which has caused over £6 billion in lost revenue for UK retailers.

Consumers are now demanding a more convenient and streamlined mobile shopping experience, particularly with regards to the payment process.

Paying for products online is a “pain point” and should be simplified as much as possible according to New Look’s group digital director, Jack Smith. “You’re asking customers to do something they don’t want to do, and you’re making it really arduous for them at the same time.” New Look was able to make its conversion rates soar by reducing their mobile checkout process down to two pages.

Currently, the mobile shopping experience for a lot of retailers is a difficult and painful one, which is putting customers off. If retailers want to maximise revenue from their mcommerce outlets, they need to improve their payment processes.

While this is by no means an easy task, we have come up with four simple steps for retailers to follow in order to make their processes easier and to stay ahead of the competition in 2016.

  1. Tailoring services to the customers’ needs

The customer is always right and retailers who tailor their shopping process to the way their customers want to buy are going to see greater conversion rates. By carrying out consumer research and studying analytics, retailers will be able to find out more about the shopping habits of their customers.

This approach was successfully used by retailing giant M&S when it was redesigning its website ahead of the launch of its own platform in 2014. It was able to discover that customers would often browse products and place them in their shopping baskets whilst on their mobile devices, but would then use their desktop computers to complete the purchase. For M&S this demonstrated the importance of having a shopping basket that was available across all sales channels.

  1. Embracing mobile

Providing a simpler and more streamlined mcommerce platform for customers will undoubtedly result in greater sales for retailers.

A significant ‘pain point’ for m-commerce is customers having to enter their payment details every time they purchase. Shoppers are prone to make impulse buys, particularly online and on their mobiles. While they may feel an impulse now, that could disappear soon after. Extra requirements, actions or tasks can easily derail an impulse buy.

Retailers have overcome these by offering ‘one-click’ payments, mobile friendly payment methods such as PayPal and adopting new and innovative technologies such as Apple Pay.

  1. Being adaptive to different cultures

Consumers all around the world have different payment methods of choice. Therefore, it’s important that retailers who are moving into new territories consider the local currencies and payment methods.

Research is key and will mean that retailers are prepared to accept these new payment methods, whether that’s iDeal, used by 60 per cent of Dutch online shoppers, or bank transfer, popular in Germany and the Nordic countries.

Retailers will have to be adaptive and have in place the infrastructure to accept all these payment methods or risk losing customers to rivals who do.

  1. Ensuring security

Recent high profile data breaches at TalkTalk and Ashley Madison, amongst others, have reiterated the need for maintaining high levels of security online. This is paramount for protecting the retailer’s reputation and is also essential for giving consumers peace of mind when using the retailer’s online and mobile platforms.

Even if it seems daunting with all the new threats developed each day, help is on hand. New technological advancements are available to strengthen retailers’ cybersecurity systems. An example of this is tokenisation, which underpins one-click payments and means retailers can avoid having to store their customers’ payment information online.

But, it is ultimately up to the retailers themselves to ensure that their payment processing meets the requirements of the PCI Security Standards Council.

By following these four key steps, retailers are well on the way to ensuring their payments are easy, secure and convenient for shoppers. The latest trends in payment strategy and technologies will be discussed in April this year on the show floor, and at the dedicated digital payments theatre at the InternetRetailing Expo in Birmingham.

Ian Jindal, experienced multichannel retailer and Editor-in-Chief of InternetRetailing

Image Credit: Slavoljub Pantelic / Shutterstock