Digital Disruption: Behind the Buzz

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In the world of e-commerce, it’s hard to avoid the buzzword “disruption.” It seems to be in nearly every headline, whenever you click or turn the page. It’s good to take a step back every once in a while to think about what this concept really means and how it’s affecting online retailing and payments.

In Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption, PwC’s annual global retail consumer survey, the company takes an in-depth look at digital disruption. The report breaks retail disruption down into four forces:

  • Store evolution
  • Mobile technology
  • Social networks
  • Demographic shifts

As a digital acquirer, our main concern is the more digitally inclined disruptive forces. We believe that digital disruption of traditional retail is here to stay. The question is how can the payments industry help merchants manage these disruptive forces so that they work to their advantage?

Building Brand Loyalty

As e-commerce grows, physical stores must find a way to evolve in order to keep consumers happy and shopping. We recently touched on this idea in a blog post on how e-commerce and High Street can work together. As PwC points out in this paper, “The premium in the future will be on creating unique, brand-defining experiences that keep customers coming back— whatever the channel.” Brand-defining experiences include convenience, such as smooth and easy payments, excitement or engagement. 21st century retail success means finding a way to connect with customers in order to build loyalty—and profits.

Mobile technology is another factor influencing retail and payments. It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, consumers didn’t have the ability to research a store’s complete inventory in the palm of their hands. “Showrooming” is a fact of life today thanks to smartphones.

According to Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist for PwC/Strategy, improvements in data storage, near-field and GPS technologies, and retailers’ abilities to recognize shoppers’ preferences are game-changers for consumers. “The smart phone is being transformed from something that consumers can call or search with, to something that searches on behalf of them,” he says. “I might have a series of things I want to buy, and that device will constantly search for the cheapest price, the greatest value, the most unique product.”

Frictionless Secure Payments

One of the main challenges for the success of mobile disruption will be addressing credit card security. According to a recent PwC survey, 66% of their global sample was concerned about having their personal credit information hacked while using a mobile phone. Additionally, 41% say they either strongly disagree or disagree with the notion that they are willing to load their credit information onto their mobile phone to pay for products. There is clearly still a long way to go when it comes to easing consumer fears about credit card fraud. On the other hand, the fact that customers rarely hesitate to shop with their credit cards online these days demonstrates there’s hope for the future.

A main lesson from the paper is that frictionless secure payment solutions are essential for creating unique customer experiences that bring shoppers back to e-commerce sites again and again. If a customer can’t pay quickly and efficiently, they will simply go elsewhere.

 

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