To attract and maintain customers, retailers must revamp their payments strategies in ways that will outlast the coronavirus pandemic.

Keala Gaines

Keala Gaines, vice president of global payment services, eBay

There are many payment options available in today’s market, and it’s safe to say it’s no longer a one-size-fits-all method.

With choices like e-wallets, contactless payments, installment payments, and classic cash, consumers’ options seem endless. In addition to these evolving options, COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of ecommerce on a global scale. And now retailers must rethink and adapt their long-term strategies online to remain competitive in the worldwide marketplace.

While we can’t predict the future, we can expect that retailers will need to revamp their payments strategies to attract new shoppers and engage and maintain their existing customers—in ways that will outlast the pandemic. 

Importance of digital payment methods 

The current pandemic has brought to light just how important it is for retailers to have an online commerce presence. Over the past few months, we’ve seen new groups embracing ecommerce and digital payment methods at a much faster rate than anyone ever thought possible. From April through June alone, we saw approximately 8 million new buyers join the eBay platform. It’s become increasingly clear that the world is moving away from traditional cash and in-person shopping and toward ecommerce and digital payments. 

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Some retailers weren’t prepared for this shift to digital. When coupled with the unexpected rise in demand for products and services, this only further spotlighted the pain points associated with outdated payment strategies. This challenge presents a unique opportunity for online retailers to revisit their ecommerce strategy, specifically around payments, and rethink how they can provide customers with the best possible experience and remove any friction. 

Flexibility in choice 

As ecommerce and retail have evolved, sellers and consumers need their payment options to follow suit. Retailers that provide customers with flexibility and offer multiple ways to pay for their products, including options like credit cards, debit cards, gift cards and e-wallets, will come out on top.

Sellers—large or small—and payment service providers can think one step ahead and anticipate some of the features that their demographic will want. Recent research indicates consumers are primarily using smartphones as financial management tools—and this is especially the case for younger generations, as more than 90% of Gen Z consumers have downloaded card apps. Payments start and end with the consumer. Now is the time for retailers to think about what features and payment options they should add to keep customers loyal. Options include mobile wallet support, installment payment plans and promotions, enhanced buyer protection with better authentication, and even a buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) option. 

Global reach, local options 

By offering global payment options based on geographic demand, retailers can cater and appeal to a wider array of customers within the U.S. and beyond, and potentially increase their bottom lines. Sure, digital wallets may be popular here in the U.S., but that’s not to say there aren’t other methods that have emerged in other markets around the world. For example, we know there’s a rise in installment methods in places like Australia and Canada. Again, it all goes back to knowing your customers and what will be the easiest and most preferred payment option for them.  

Consumers expect nothing short of a seamless shopping experience—from the moment they put a product into their cart to checkout when payments are processed. By keeping payments strategies fresh, retailers can remove friction at the most important stage of the shopping experience. By focusing on providing choice, convenience and global options around payments, retailers can offer a simpler, more modern managed marketplace for their customers. Payments is at the core of making these connections and opens the door for new buyers worldwide to join.

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eBay is No. 5 in the ranking of Digital Commerce 360 Top 100 Online Marketplaces.

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