Help retailers prepare for these 2021 payment trends.

Written by Jereme on

Consumers' pursuit of convenience and flexibility are driving new types of engagements and new ways to pay. 

The pandemic, economic shutdowns, tech disruption, and evolving consumer behaviors created an environment ripe for retail industry change. After a year of uncertainty and adaptation, retailers are now looking for help from solutions providers to build their strategies for the new year. Below are some payment trends to keep in mind as you talk to merchants about their IT roadmaps for 2021.

Genie-in-a-bottle shopping expectations. 

Because many consumers were unable to shop in some brick-and-mortar stores for part of the year, more people discovered the convenience of online ordering. U.S. ecommerce spending increased by 30.1 percent, year over year, in the first two quarters of 2020. Also, much of that spending was via mobile devices. FinancesOnline predicts that by next year, a full 70 percent of ecommerce will take place on smartphones. 

Convenience-seeking consumers may also use voice apps and virtual assistants to place their orders and authorize payments. Invesp reports that 30 percent of U.S. consumers have already used a voice assistant to find product information or make a purchase – and predicts voice shopping will grow to $40 billion by 2022. 

When consumers type, speak, or tap a link to make their orders, retailers will need solutions that deliver “your-wish-is-my-command” responsiveness. Ensure your merchants have a strong ecommerce presence, as well as mobile- and user-friendly websites. They'll also need a payments solution that includes convenient online checkout, the latest encryption and tokenization to secure payment data for future purchases, and iron-clad cardholder authentication to reduce fraud. 

Shopping via link.

Retailers must continue to find creative ways to get "buy now" links in front of their customers. Merchants can print QR codes that contain links to payment pages, include links in email offers, or text links to customers' smartphones for one-click ordering experiences. These solutions can provide a quickly deployable solution for merchants who don't have the budget to upgrade payment technology, but want to provide touchless payment experiences to their customers. 

Merchants can also embed links in social media advertising or messaging. Shopping from social media is a growing trend. In fact, EconStor reports that an increasing number of shoppers are influenced by social media. That means a well-placed link on social media can help merchants capture additional revenue. 

Take the role of trusted business advisor and discuss the pros and cons of using links, such as considering differences in interchange fees between card-present and card-not-present transactions. Help your merchants weigh the pros and cons so they can make the right financial decisions for their businesses. 

People finally use their mobile wallet apps.

Contactless payments, which U.S. consumers have been slow to adopt, got a boost in 2020 due to the pandemic. So much so that the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that 94 percent of retailers surveyed expect that wave to continue into 2021. 

Customers who want touchless experiences in-store may finally make using a mobile wallet a part of their regular shopping routines, now that they've discovered how easy it can be to just wave or tap a smartphone on a card reader to make a payment. Greater familiarity with the technology may finally drive consumers to make contactless payments a preferred way to pay.  Ensure that your merchants have card readers equipped to accept contactless EMV chip cards and near-field communication (NFC) transactions like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. 

Self-service moves to a new level.

U.S. consumers have a distinct preference for self-service, with 73 percent of shoppers surveyed by SOTI responding that they'd rather use self-checkout options than engage with store associates. 

Some merchants, such as Amazon and Walmart, are exploring how they can make checkout even easier. They've developed systems leveraging smart cameras, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and other advanced technologies to enable shoppers to select their items, leave the store, and receive a digital receipt. With these systems, no checkout counter or lines are necessary. 

Your merchants may not be prepared to deploy a cashierless system, but they may find value in self-checkouts and payment kiosks. So, be sure to offer them unattended payment options for accurate and secure self-service transactions. 

Remove barriers to payments. 

One of the most important payment trends for 2021 is taking full advantage of flexible, omnichannel payment solutions that allow retailers to optimize payment experiences, regardless of how their customers want to pay. Assess the payment solutions both in your portfolio and your merchant partnerships to ensure you can deliver the functionality your merchants will need in 2021 and beyond.