With buying power at their fingertips and the expectation to shop in any environment, modern day shoppers have become the new POS and are shaping the buying experience like never before. They’re filling online shopping carts, paying on their phones and trusting social reviews. A Statista report found US e-commerce platforms generated $304.1 billion in sales last year with mobile transactions totaling $7.3 billion in Q1 alone.
This is the “Age of the Customer”—an evolving commercial landscape where consumers reign supreme. Buyers are eager to adopt new technologies and intuitive features, and merchants need to keep pace. Through collaboration with trusted payments partners, merchants can convert customers, boost sales and distinguish themselves from competitors. Consider the points below on purchasing and payment trends and areas for opportunity when reviewing your business’s approach to digital transactions:
Contemporary consumers are wired to their devices. Deloitte reported more than 80% use technology to facilitate purchases. As such, merchants need to offer buying options across platforms—in-store, online and via mobile device—where shoppers can begin, resume and finish transactions in any environment. Retailers can mold their virtual shopping experiences to meet customer expectations through close working relationships with payments providers and developers.
To foster sales on multiple channels, merchants need a robust monitoring system to best deliver on customer requests. Select an inventory management system that tracks the pace of business on each platform, updates stock numbers and sends reordering notifications in real time. The right payments partner can help get this functional system in place and do the heavy lifting so you can focus on your business.
With all your ducks in a row, app and Web developers can step up to the plate to turn your commercial and design goals into reality. A clean, functional layout that allows shoppers to get in and out with their purchase only gets retailers so far. In theOnline Payment Journey, a recent survey of more than 3,500 consumers worldwide, Worldpay researched ways businesses can better cater to their digital customer bases. Three findings to bring to your design team include:
- Account creation and security info: About 60% of American shoppers created online accounts to facilitate buying in the last 12 months. These account-creating consumers want quicker and easier shopping methods in the long term and are conscious of data security policies. Retailers should offer shoppers the option to create accounts—usable on web and mobile—with clear statements on how their data is stored and processed. However, requiring buyers to make accounts may also turn away those looking to make a one-time purchase. Offering both guest and account shopping profiles is a happy medium. Let your customers decide which is best for them.
- Payment authentication logos: Payment security is top-of-mind for online and mobile shoppers. About 68% of US shoppers feel more secure when payment authentication and digital certificate logos are present, and 51% would be more likely to buy if the images were featured on the homepage. Incorporating and clearly displaying logos and certificates is an easy way to quell their unease and drive more sales.
- Follow-up: Shoppers want to receive a post-purchase email to confirm the transaction has been successfully completed. About 76% of consumers in America consider this follow-up email very important. Sending a message with masked credit card numbers, order and tracking information and payment amounts help customers rest easy and shop with you again in the future.
Remember though, a retailer’s chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that roughly 40% of shoppers consistently make in-store purchases each week. Even in this digital age, physical shopping experiences are still important. One way to elevate your omnichannel experience in-store is by accepting mobile payments at the register. More and more EMV-compliant terminals are equipped with NFC capabilities to process contactless payments, and this option will couple nicely with your digital initiatives.
Bridging the m-commerce gap
Digital commerce continues to gain momentum, and yet a rather significant disconnect has emerged between the amount of time and money users spend across platforms. According to a Q1 2015 comScore report, technology users spend 59% of their time on mobile devices, but only 15% of virtual dollars (compared to the roughly 41% of time spent on desktop computers that bring in 85% of the digital profit). This 44% disparity—the difference between usage time and conversion to sales via mobile—is what industry experts are calling the “m-commerce gap.” Broken down differently, web shoppers are spending roughly $2 per minute online. Mobile shoppers are only spending 25 cents per minute.
M-commerce has been slow to bring in the sales, but its power as a platform is no less than significant. Its popularity among consumers, shorter time in the marketplace and mobility forecast a bright future for mobile buying. The m-commerce gap represents an opportunity for retailers to up their game. Moreover, it suggests mobile buyers are ready to make purchases but are not always being reached through the most effective avenue. What else are they doing on those devices that you can tap into? Social engagement.
About 80% of shoppers reference a social media site while (or prior to) making a purchase according to Selz.com, and a Times Trends study found millennials are a staggering 247% more likely to make a purchase after consulting blogs and social networks compared to other age groups. What other consumers are saying about your brand and how you carry out social operations is critical for mobile buyers. Displaying customer reviews and ratings will boost confidence in your brand. Moreover, an active social presence with quick responses to customers’ compliments, complaints and questions will help you score points as well.
From ample payment options, to data security, to social engagement across mobile, online and in-store touch points, knowing and exceeding consumers’ expectations through an integrated approach can help you lead the way in this ‘Age of the Customer.’