Meeting Customer Expectations through On-Demand Payment Technology

August 15, 2016         By: Erika Napoletano

Retailers are now operating in an era where convenience is key – and secure and simple payments have begun to take hold. Customers expect all-in-one and single-click options, leaving retailers to wonder how they can capitalize on the simplicity made so popular by app-based retailers and exemplary e-commerce platforms.

This industry shift toward on-demand functionality revolves around a service-to-purchase experience that is seamless and effortless. In the example of taxi apps, with a single request, a customer gets picked up, dropped off, and the fare paid. Some e-commerce retailers offer the convenience of a single-click, or condensed, shopping experience that saves customer information for checkout with the use of an account, which allows customers to see and buy in a single digital gesture. What today’s retailers need to know about on-demand payments is this: understanding your customers better, through some basic information, can enhance their purchasing journey by leaps and bounds.

We sat down with Amy Parsons, Vice President of Global Commerce at Discover, to explore her insights into on-demand payment technology. Pull up a chair and read closely, because you just might find the spark to pump up your payments tech game. And, with it, you could improve your customer’s experience and ultimately your bottom line.

What is the first step in simplifying the checkout process for my customers?

Amy Parsons: There are three key checkout components to think about – payment, shipping, and billing. A cumbersome experience might look like a customer adding items to their cart, going to check out, and having to enter their address in multiple sections for shipping and billing. Then, when it’s time to pay, they see an additional cost they weren’t expecting, such as a shipping charge that wasn’t clear up-front. These elements introduce friction to the checkout and can make consumers leave a purchase behind, but one strategy can keep them coming back – an account.

The prompt to create an account can introduce friction in its own right, but there are several strategies to follow in order to increase successful account sign-ups. You could try to entice customers with an offer, such as a discount on a future purchase. Or, you can enable customers to log in by leveraging accounts they already have – such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google.

An additional benefit to accounts is their functionality in multiple channels. When consumers have an account, they can access it on their PC, with their smartphone or tablet, or even in the store with the help of retail staff, and they can begin a purchase in one channel and finish it in another.

How can I create a faster checkout experience?

Parsons: Once you have engaged a customer to the point that they have created an account, there are further opportunities to simplify checkout. Consider the multi-step process in checking out – this can be streamlined by including a checkbox once a customer has filled in their billing address that lets them save it to their account, or to use the same address again for shipping.

Taken one step further, you could implement a “single-click” checkout option with this saved shipping, billing, and payment information, which allows customers to find items they want and then purchase with greater ease.

When it comes to payment, retailers should look to accept numerous options, from credit and debit cards, to other payment accounts such as PayPal, to digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. By incorporating multiple payment options, consumers can easily pay for their purchase with their preferred payment method.

How do these strategies benefit retailers?

Parsons: The shopping journey is being reimagined through new technologies. Retailers that harness their focus around the start-to-finish shopping experience and leverage the power of a smoother, simpler checkout can drive additional engagement with customers and potentially higher purchase amounts or more frequent purchases. This is the next level of meeting and exceeding customer expectations, especially in a digital world.

How can I easily adopt an on-demand payments approach?

Parsons: On-demand payments have one thing in common – a frictionless experience. When looking to implement functionality such as in-app payments or stored credentials, you should consider how your customers prefer to shop and complement that with a simple payment platform. The mobile app and website experiences are critical – if these experiences aren’t simple, customers are less likely to engage and complete a purchase. By incorporating the elements already mentioned, retailers can streamline and quicken checkout, and can build an understanding of loyal customers’ behaviors and preferences, in order to tailor future offerings.

Better checkout experiences mean more completed sales, fewer abandoned carts, and more data from which to make your next business decision.

The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to start the conversation about on-demand functionality and how they might benefit your existing and future customer base. The best part of on-demand payments is that they create a simpler online checkout process, the reverse of which can be a main culprit in customer dissatisfaction. As a curious retailer, you’re not just looking to add gratuitous bells and whistles to your checkout process. Rather, on-demand payment functionality can deliver the ROI that means more for your business in every regard — customers are delighted with a seamless process and your bottom line is reinforced by those convenience-centric shoppers returning time and again.

This article is brought to you by Discover Network. To read more on the world of commerce, visit Discover Network Perspectives.