In business, it’s imperative to take care of the needs and wants of your customer, or they will take their business elsewhere. Today, this means catering to a consumer who is able to pay for goods and services in a multitude of ways. This is the result of a historic evolution in payment trends and technologies over the last decade.
Cumbersome credit card terminals have given way to card readers as small as a matchbook that link to smartphones and can be used virtually anywhere. Integrated payment technologies allow businesses to accept and manage payments within existing software, turning almost any PC, tablet or smartphone into a point of sale. New payment trends are growing, with more people paying for goods or services online, from smartphones, in recurring payments or even from unattended kiosks. These changes have forced merchants to adapt to a new payment ecosystem in which the customer has control and decides how they want to make purchases.
Statistics show that the days of people relying solely on a mix of cash and credit cards are in the rear view mirror. In fact, a Bankrate survey found that 40 percent of respondents carry on average less than $20 with them and 80 percent of them carry less than $50. According to a 2017 World Payment Report from Capgemini and BNP Paribas, noncash transactions are rising at an annual rate of 11 percent. Alternative payment methods will make up over half of all online transactions by 2021 according to a 2017 WorldPay Global Payment Report. Today’s consumer – whose payment mix might include using an app, a debit card, a PayPal account and a digital wallet – demands choice and craves convenience.
With Change Comes Opportunity
So what does this mean for merchants? The evolution of payment options provides fertile opportunities for merchants who work to satisfy their customers’ expectations. By offering consumers choices and serving their individual preferences, merchants can build brand loyalty. In addition, merchants can set up customer databases based on loyalty programs and past purchases. By reviewing consumer behavior, they can offer each customer beneficial discounts, rewards, and payment options. This will make each person’s shopping experience unique and foster an environment that lends itself to dedicated customers.
The increased use of digital assistants (Alexa, Google Home) and smart home technology opens up an opportunity for retailers to offer their customers a fully integrated experience. Take a grocer, for instance, who can integrate with a customer’s smart refrigerator. After seeing what’s on a customer’s shopping list, the items would be added to the person’s next order and be available for store pick-up or home delivery. The payment is handled seamlessly and the customer’s groceries are replenished without them having to do anything. By creating this type of personalized experience, retailers will be able to win over and retain customers.
The Value of a Payment Partner
In today’s environment, the ability for retailers to provide a confident and seamless payment experience for their customers depends on a few factors. Of utmost importance is staying abreast of the best software options and engagement tools that are available. This can be an arduous task and one that requires retailers to seek out payment partners who are committed to adopting the latest technologies and have a track record of real-world implementations. A merchant service provider with the proper expertise can smoothly add online payments and mobile capabilities that integrate seamlessly with in-store payments, thus keeping track of inventory and customer behavior from omni-channel sources. The right partnership can help a business navigate the ever-changing marketplace and position them for seamless integrations and long-term success.
Today’s consumers are more informed than in the past and have higher expectations. They expect smooth and safe transactions for whatever payment option they choose. In order to satisfy them and keep them as customers, merchants should think strategically and choose a merchant services company with an advanced payment platform that innovates and evolves as technology does.
No matter what changes are on the horizon for the payment industry, taking care of the customer will always be the main tenet for success in business. Merchants who can stay ahead of the curve and offer their patrons a hassle-free shopping experience will be the ones who outshine their competitors and end up with a devoted customer base.
Written by Marc Gardner
Read more posts by Marc Gardner