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Online retail and Open Payments: a perfect match

June 5, 2020

How e-commerce businesses can benefit from frictionless bank account payments that provide fast settlement, reduce fraud and cost less than card payments.

For years, consumer buying behaviour has been shifting increasingly towards online retail, driven by a range of factors including convenience, ability to compare deals and attractive pricing. Many high street brands are increasing their proportion of selling online, with bricks and mortar retailers experiencing a 10% reduction in footfall over the past seven years.

This shift has been dramatically accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, with shops closed and many people unable to leave their homes. Online sales across multiple sectors have increased significantly and it appears this reflects more than just a temporary change in behaviour. A study by Morning Consult found that 24% of customers don’t intend to start shopping outside again in the next six months, while financial news website PYMNTS found that 23% of consumers who have shifted their routines online due to the pandemic don’t intend to change them.

Stay ahead of the competition

While this is good news for e-commerce, the sector is now set to become even more competitive, so online retailers need to ensure they convert occasional visitors into loyal customers to maintain and grow their market presence. It is vital e-commerce businesses focus on providing a best-in-class online customer experience to ensure they stay ahead of the competition and capitalise on increased consumer demand.

Online shoppers are quick to abandon websites that provide a poor experience and the majority of those will never return as customers. A recent study by PwC found that, after product price, speed and usability are the most important aspects to customers when shopping online. One key element of this is payment: customers want more choice and convenience when it comes to their payment options.

Introducing Open Payments

Mobile banking is already expected to overtake high street bank branch visits by 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to drive even greater adoption of online banking. With more people than ever having access to their bank account via their smartphone, this presents an opportunity for a new kind of payment method: Open Payments.

Open Payments is a completely new way for businesses to accept real-time bank transfers from customers. With no data entry required, Open Payments provide a fast, frictionless payment experience for the customer and it benefits businesses too, with faster settlement, less fraud and lower fees than other payment methods.

Open Payments is enabled by the recent Open Banking initiative, which has been rolled out in the UK and Europe to provide more regulation, governance and consumer protection for online payments, while increasing opportunities for businesses to accept payments.

Using Open Payments, digital retailers can now accept payments by adding a simple ‘Pay by Open Banking’ button to their payment options. By clicking the button, customers are instantly redirected to their online bank account or mobile app to authorise the payment, the details of which are automatically populated and simply need to be confirmed.

Business benefits

In addition to faster settlement and lower fees for online businesses, Open Payments is the most secure digital payment option – every party in the payment process is digitally authenticated, minimising opportunities for fraud. Some e-commerce merchants may also benefit from the automated reconciliation feature of Open Payments, which dramatically reduces the time spent on manual reconciliation.

Open Payments also allow rich data to be pulled through with a payment, meaning information such as customer ID, time of payment, campaign number and product code can all be collected from a payment – aiding learning and product development.

Don’t get held up on payments

While many parts of the retail sector are facing a long, slow recovery from the pandemic, e-commerce is well positioned to grow its market share considerably. But online retailers need to remain focused on the customer experience to ensure they take full advantage of the increase in demand.

By making small customer experience improvements, such as adding frictionless, cost-effective payment methods, online merchants can differentiate themselves from their competitors, reduce costs and streamline backend efficiencies – giving them the time and space they need to focus on business growth.

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