Crafting the Customer Journey: Increasing Retail Conversion

By Paul Marcantonio, Head of UK & Western Europe, ECOMMPAY.

User experience is key to a retailer’s success. The multiple variables involved in creating the optimal customer journey, however, present a challenge. To improve retention and conversion rates, as well as positively influence consumer loyalty, retail merchants must ensure that shoppers access an intuitive, user-friendly website adapted to multiple devices and featuring a seamless payment process, but many have neither the capabilities nor the experience to implement this.

Unless a retailer is prepared to invest both time and resources into becoming certified, regulated, and integrated with banks so as to process customer payments independently, not to mention monitoring industry trends to devise payment strategies and ensure customer satisfaction, their best bet is to partner with a reliable payment service provider. Beyond basic processing, experienced payment partners will engineer proprietary technologies, develop bespoke payment solutions, and facilitate opportunities for global expansion, crafting the customer journey to increase conversion.

Proprietary technologies

From the retailer’s perspective, conversion can often come at the cost of security. Inexperienced merchants often ask their payment service providers to remove security features in hopes of increasing sales volumes. Unfortunately, sacrificing security for simplicity can lead to fraudulent activity, fines imposed by payment systems, and reputational damage. To avoid unnecessary risks, merchants should implement a stringent risk management policy, assessing the anti-fraud technologies and chargeback management processes offered by their payments partner.
Ambitious, technologically innovative payment service providers attempt synergy between conversion-increasing features and sophisticated security measures by engineering and enhancing proprietary risk management solutions, as well as establishing comprehensive procedures for navigating incoming chargebacks. New modules and filters for automated security systems are introduced regularly. One of the most effective additions in recent years has been the scoring principle, which undertakes an interdependent analysis based on multiple variables to identify fraudulent transactions without rejecting authentic purchases.

Though automated systems are effective at preventing large volumes of fraudulent transactions, it is the human factor in the form of highly qualified, experienced risk analysts and fraud specialists that provides the additional value of recognising and negating patterns of fraudulent activity, as well as defending client interests in the event of chargebacks. Assisting retail merchants by analysing transaction history, assessing risk variables, and configuring automated fraud systems to individual specifications, a payment partner’s fraud and chargebacks department can offer tailored consultations and customised strategies.

Bespoke payment solutions

Though many payment service providers offer a uniform solution for merchants regardless of their industry, location, turnover, or other distinct factors, the reality is that each business is different. What works for one retailer may not have the desired effect for another. Collaboration with a payments partner must take into account the retailer’s business model and target audience. As consumer preferences continue to evolve, payment companies must prove their flexibility.

In creating the payment process, retailers and their payment partners must strive to understand, and ultimately appease, the end-user. Age and location massively influence how consumers perceive the design of a retailer’s payment page, as well as the choice of payment methods required for their visit to result in conversion. Closely monitoring industry trends, payment service providers develop effective solutions for their clients to address changing consumer demands.

To optimise the merchant’s website, payment partners introduce A/B testing to mix and match the variables displayed on the checkout page. Identifying the most successful combination ensures higher conversion rates and increased customer loyalty. Recognising the changing payments landscape, many payment service providers have further facilitated an omnichannel customer journey, accounting for the various devices popular among consumers.

Less than five years ago, mobile transactions accounted for 10% of traffic across all e-Commerce sectors, whereas they now comprise more than 45% of total transactions. As shoppers rely more and more on mobile devices, retailers must extend their online presence beyond websites adapted exclusively to desktop computers. Introducing mobile applications through which customers can engage with the brand, retail merchants must ensure that they facilitate a streamlined, omnichannel customer journey integrated with a convenient payment process across multiple platforms.

Opportunities for global expansion

Payment trends vary significantly across geographical boundaries. Accessing an omnichannel customer journey is particularly relevant in Southeast Asian markets. Despite the popularity of mobile devices, Indonesian shoppers prefer to make purchases on computers. Though mobile traffic can reach up to 87%, conversion is 200% higher when e-Commerce websites are accessed from desktop computers or laptops .

The generational divide also plays a role. Particularly in emerging markets, younger consumers tend to have greater trust in e-Commerce than their parents, actively adopting global payment trends or seeking out regional alternatives. If retailers are serious about targeting audiences in emerging markets, expansion strategies must be developed on regional preferences, which are often divided across devices, generations, and a multitude of other factors.

Entering emerging markets can prove challenging without access to specialised, localised knowledge and reliable partners, but most industry professionals would agree that these territories hold immense potential. As payments form a key component of any e-Commerce business strategy, including retail, merchants seeking to widen their business horizons must become intimately familiar with the payment preferences of their target audience.

In South America, for example, credit cards remain the preferred payment method for most transactions, accounting for more than 60% of payments in Brazil, while alternatives include pay points able to take cash payments for online purchases. The Asian market consists of several of the world’s largest and most densely populated countries, each of which has its own unique particularities. Though in comparison to other emerging markets, most African countries have low computer literacy and low bank account penetration, m-Commerce in the region is growing faster than the global average. Reacting to these payment trends in the quest to expand into new territories and occupy a larger market share, retailers must offer relevant payment methods to meet increased consumer demand.

Retailers have a variety of factors to consider when implementing a payments strategy, from security precautions to expansion opportunities. Customer experience, however, must remain the priority for merchants hoping to improve conversion and increase consumer loyalty. By engaging the services of an experienced, reliable payment service provider, retailers can participate in the development of a payments strategy tailored to them, configuring the filters of the risk management system protecting their transactions from fraudulent activity, introducing innovative payment products, and enabling international customers to shop via the device or payment method convenient for them.

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