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Customer experience has become a top priority for shoppers, even topping price and product quality when choosing where to shop. According to a PwC Digital IQ Survey, 73 percent of customers surveyed say experience is one of the top factors in purchasing decisions. However, PwC also found that 54 percent of consumers believe customer service at most companies needs improvement. One area that most merchants could improve immediately is the payment experience they deliver, enhancing the final touchpoint of interactions with convenience, speed, and efficiency.
Technology that Enables Customer-Centric Payment Experiences
Integrated payments are table stakes for competitive merchants. When the business’ point of sale (POS) system is integrated with the payments solution, data is automatically shared, end-of-day tasks and accounting is streamlined, and the merchant saves time.
TSCs and VARs tend to focus on these benefits of integrated payments for their customers. However, integrating payments with the POS system can also improve payment experiences for consumers. Consumers don’t have to wait while a cashier or sales associate runs a credit card on a separate device, adding time to the checkout process. Furthermore, consumers want to see businesses using technology that improves their shopping experiences.
While providing payment solutions that optimize processes for your customers, make sure you also give them the ability to provide the best possible payment experiences for their customers. These payment solution features will help you achieve that goal.
- Omni-channel payments. The pandemic drove consumers to engage digitally with businesses more often. In response, merchants strengthened their online presence, giving consumers the choice of how to make purchases. An omni-channel or “full-commerce” payments platform allows your clients to accept digital payments at the checkout counter, online, in-app, at self-service kiosks, or via text links.
- Contactless payments. Contactless payments use grew in 2020. eMarketer reports that 3 million U.S. consumers made contactless payments in a 6-month period that year, many looking for ways to limit contact or avoid handling cash. Now that consumers have experienced the convenience of using contactless cards and mobile wallets, they’ll want that payment experience everywhere.
- Social media links. One way to create great customer experiences is to meet consumers where they are. Links embedded in social media posts can direct customers to a hosted payments page and complete a transaction within seconds of deciding to buy.
- Text to pay. Businesses in a range of vertical markets, such as field services, nonprofits, utility, retail and restaurant, can offer payment convenience with text-to-pay solutions. A merchant sends a link to the customers’ phone for payment with a few clicks with stored card data.
- Secure payment experiences: Whether it’s a self-checkout or credit card terminal at the register, ensure customers’ privacy and card data are protected. Screens shouldn’t be visible to anyone besides the person using the kiosk or payment terminal.
Enhancing Payment Experiences Online
The surge in e-commerce also requires your clients to focus on payment experiences online. First, online checkout should be as simple as possible, requiring visiting the fewest screens and the lowest possible number of clicks. Additionally, consumers may be more likely to complete a purchase if they have a “guest checkout” option. Complicated online checkout processes are among the top reasons consumers give for shopping cart abandonment.
In addition to low-tech strategies that improve payment experiences, your payments partner can also enable payment methods, such as one-click payments. One-click payments use tokens to remember customer information and payment details so returning customers can purchase for delivery or in-store pickup with a single click.
Also, considering that Statista reports about 72 percent of e-commerce occurs on mobile devices, ensure your payments partner offers payment methods that make transactions more straightforward, such as integration with mobile wallets or alternative payments.
Reduce Friction with a Consumer-First Mindset
Payment technologies continue to advance and evolve. Therefore, it’s vital for you to partner with innovative payments companies that will give your clients the ability to compete on experience. For example, consider emerging payment processes, such as Just Walk Out technology at Amazon Go stores. Although your clients may not be ready to eliminate physical checkouts, they may want to enhance processes with options their customers prefer, such as ACH payments, PayPal, Zelle, or buy now, pay later (BNPL).
When merchants provide the payment experiences customers want, they can build brand loyalty, expand their customer base and generate more revenue. TSCs and VARs who form smart partnerships with payments companies and provide their clients with the tools to make payments as seamless and easy as possible will enable their success.
Take time to understand your market and consumers’ payment preferences and speak to your payments partner to see how you can provide the solutions your clients need.