These days, customers expect businesses to know exactly what they want, and in turn, supply that service. Payment options are no different
Consumers today expect multiple options for how and where they can shop: from browsing online or on the high street, to paying with cash, card or a contactless device. Responding to these demands can be particularly difficult for small businesses, which often work within constrained budgets and with limited resource. However, understanding how to meet customer expectations is essential to attract new and repeat custom, and ultimately boosting the bottom line.
To help smaller businesses keep up to date with the changing expectations of shoppers, both in-store and online, Greg Liset, Head of eCommerce – Small Business at Barclaycard, has the following recommendations.
Payment technology: the key to success on the high street
Card payments have transformed the way we shop on the high street, meeting consumer demand for efficiency and convenience. With total monthly card spend in the UK reaching an all-time high of £52.6bn and cash now being used for less than half of all transactions, paying by card is undoubtedly the preferred option for many consumers.
In response to increasing demand for speed of payment, contactless cards and devices have accelerated the in-store payment process even further, shaving seven seconds off every transaction. Consequently, usage of the technology by shoppers has jumped 173% in the last year, demonstrating its popularity amongst time-poor consumers.
However, a significant proportion of small businesses are failing to satisfy these demands. Recent Barclaycard research found that although 70% of shoppers prefer to pay by card, half of small businesses still do not accept this method of payment. As a result, these retailers are collectively losing almost £8.8bn in sales a year. Further still, the research showed that almost a fifth (17%) of small businesses have no intention of introducing electronic payments anytime soon, citing cost (21%) and difficulty (11%) as some of the main barriers.
But these concerns should not hold small businesses back. With the right support, setting up card payments can be straightforward and affordable – and the results are clear to see.
Getting it right online
Online spending has increased 14.5% in the last year, compared to a fall of 0.3% in-store. To capitalise on this lucrative market, retailers must ensure they continually improve their online experience too – or risk losing out to competition.
These days, simply having an online presence is not enough. Recent research found that over 30% of consumers will abandon an online purchase if the website experience is poor, website optimisation across all platforms – smartphones, tablets, as well as computers – is vital. This is especially relevant in light of the growing popularity of m-commerce, which now accounts for almost half of online sales in the UK.
Equally key to driving sales online is speed. Retailers must therefore think about how many clicks it takes for a customer to go from finding a product to buying it, as every additional click reduces the likelihood of that purchase being made. This is most crucial at the payments stage.
Retail success in-store and online
Ultimately, consumer demand for a multichannel experience presents both opportunities and challenges for small businesses. Whilst evolving payments technology is helping to keep the high street relevant by speeding up the in-store journey, the growth in ecommerce is meeting consumer need for convenience.
In order to cater for varying consumer demands across multiple channels, small businesses must ensure they do not neglect the online experience in favour of in-store, or vice-versa. Keeping up with the latest trends on the high street and online holds the key to capturing new customers and retaining old ones, however they want to shop.