Optimizing the in-store experience in the age of unified commerce

By Myles Dawson, UK Country Manager, Adyen.

It seems like not a week goes by without a story in the papers about another high street stalwart facing a dip in customers and sales. Yet in the same breath, online retailers are seemingly doing better than ever, expanding internationally and setting their sights on bigger targets or acquisitions. For example, menswear retailer Bonobos, or even French fashion brand Sézane, Sonos, Made.com all started their life online and have now moved to their own purpose-built stores. Meanwhile, Amazon is driving its journey into the physical space with Amazon Go, Amazon Books and through the acquisition of Whole Foods and most recently, online pharmacy group PillPack.

These online players see a value in a bricks-and-mortar presence, and with good reason. The in-store experience is still impossible to replicate online; it gives retailers the opportunity to engage their shoppers with sensory experiences and lets them try on and touch products. The difference is that online-first retailers aren’t tied down by legacy in-store infrastructures and can more easily connect their online and offline sales channels.

Today, flexibility is key. Successful retailers thrive by accommodating their customers however and whenever they choose to shop. This means offering greater flexibility on things such as returns and refunds, as well as personalisation and, importantly, supporting the right payment methods

The digital meets the physical

Retailers are bombarded with buzzwords like ‘digital transformation’ and ‘omnichannel’. They can seem like overused terms but they’re also a daunting prospect, suggesting an expensive overhaul of existing infrastructure. But it doesn’t need to be. With the right payments system, you’re already well on your way.

Consumers are looking for seamless cross-channel journeys and payments can help you deliver these. With endless aisles, they can buy online stock in store via tablets, and, by delivering in-app checkouts or mobile point of sale terminals (mPOS) they can avoid the hassle of checkout queues. This is much easier to achieve if you process your customers’ payments across all channels on a single platform. By tracking shoppers across multiple touch points you’ll be able to deliver unique experiences that encourage customers to remain loyal. Add the convenience of timed delivery or free online returns, and you’ll have loyal, happy shoppers.


Personalisation is a hot-topic now. Research has revealed that over half of consumers would spend more in store if they received personalised offers based on previous purchases. Shoppers also want their loyalty program tied to their credit card. After all, if the credit card is used for every purchase, why should they have to track purchases on a separate card as well? Linking loyalty to the shopper credit card also lets you apply loyalty to all channels. Shoppers don’t have the frustration of forgetting their loyalty card, and it saves you money as well.

Context is also important. 50% of US shoppers want location-based discounts and coupons sent to their smartphones. This can be done in different ways. One example is to send push notifications to shoppers near your store, enticing them inside with a discount on an item they’d been browsing online. Or, since most new payment terminals come with beacons installed, you can recognise your shopper at the point of sale via their mobile app. You can then give them the option to pay in-app and relinquish points they’ve accumulated. This isn’t the future of ecommerce, this is now. Alipay, the Chinese online payment service, has been delivering a similar service to their customers in Asia for years.

Data is king

The online movements of your customers can be a source of valuable insights, which can be used to deliver the experiences mentioned above. If your payment data from all devices, channels and markets feeds into the same platform, you’ll have a global snapshot of your customers in one place, giving you the power to produce a more tailored experience.

Borderless shopping

Finally, it’s important to understand different shoppers expect to pay in different ways. British shoppers might favour their trusty debit card, but international shoppers will have other ideas. And ignore them at your peril.

International shoppers present a huge opportunity to retailers. The five and a half million visitors to Britain that came through Gatwick airport last year contributed £4.7 billion to the UK’s GDP and supported 93,000 jobs. And, in the last year alone, over half a million Chinese tourists flocked to the UK, accounting for 25% of all tax-free shopping carried out in London’s West End. This trend isn’t just localised to the UK either; Chinese residents make up 43% of tax-free shopping worldwide. With China’s population forecast to reach 1.4 billion over the next 10 years, and a growing middle class with spare income to spend, this is not a market retailers’ can afford to overlook.

Last year Chinese tourists spent an average of £922 per transaction. The ability to support different payments methods, coupled with the understanding of shopper preferences, is invaluable to retailers looking to break down the boundaries to business.

Where it all starts

Closing a sale in retail is a journey, not a destination. Everything is a shop these days, whether it’s your home, your side-business or the high street. Delivering quality customer service across any platform is key to success. And it can all come to nothing if the payment system adds friction by not allowing customers to buy on their own terms. Optimising payments to accommodate multiple shopper journeys and payment preferences is vital to business success. And an integrated payments service is the cornerstone to a seamless experience that keeps your customers coming back for more.

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