Jack Ehlers, Director of Payment Partnerships at PPRO
The retail industry has dramatically changed and continues to do so at a rapid pace. The days of bricks and mortar stores being a consumer’s only option are long gone.
Easy to navigate web pages, a wide variety of products to choose from and getting items delivered straight to your door all save consumers time, and in some cases money.
The combination of the death of the high street, and the instantaneous nature of buying goods has meant that shopping expectations have changed. Consumers demand immediacy and expect retailers to provide a seamless shopping experience. However, one thing that is too often overlooked is the payment process. This includes offering a wide choice or local and preferred payment methods for customers. If they don’t, they risk losing potentially loyal customers to competitors.
According to PPRO’s own research, 67 per cent of UK consumers have abandoned an online retail site simply due to the payment process. Just over a fifth of these (22 per cent) left because the process was too complicated, while 21 per cent didn’t complete the transaction as the merchant didn’t offer them their preferred payment option. This demonstrates how important payment methods really are to the consumer.
It’s essential that consumer expectations around payment processes are addressed, but there are several aspects to consider:
Cultural differences when it comes to payments
When it comes to addressing consumer expectations around payment processes, it’s important to consider that preferences differ from country to country.
For example, consumers shopping in the UK prefer paying with PayPal (50%) and debit or credit cards (43%). In counties such as Germany, most digital buyers prefer payment on account and via direct debit. Merchants need to know exactly who is shopping on their site and accommodate their preferences.
Payment preferences vary just as languages do and when it comes to attracting global customers, the last thing merchants want is the method of payment to be the barrier to sales.
Picture the situation – a customer in Germany goes to a UK merchant’s site to make a purchase. They get through the perfectly translated front-end but when they reach payment they do not recognise any of the methods offered to them. The likelihood is they will abandon their basket and go elsewhere. Limiting payment options limits global reach, all the while extending a competitor’s reach.
To truly go global, merchants don’t need to just break down language barriers, but also payment barriers.
The risk for retailers who don’t offer alternative payment methods
Payments have come a long way since the advent of online shopping. Customers expect to be able to buy what they want, when they want, how they want. This was substantiated in our research study, which showed 90 per cent of UK consumers expect to have the option to pay by a number of means when they shop via the internet.
It’s no longer adequate to offer customers one single way of paying – in-store or online. Not everyone has a credit or debit card, so if this is all that’s on offer, merchants will lose out on sales from those who prefer to pay by an alternative method.
For example, the internet has introduced card-free methods, such as Pay Pal, which are in-keeping with the quick and easy style of online shopping itself. This simplifies the shopping experience for customers, as these types of payment methods mean customers no longer need to carry cash or card around with them to make a quick payment – they simply need to log in, enter their password and submit.
Imagine if a customer has an online basket worth hundreds of pounds but doesn’t have their credit card available at that moment. If they are unable to pay through an online payment method, that sale is automatically lost. It’s key to remember that if payment options are limited, so are sales opportunities.