While it is easy to blame COVID-19 for all the changes that have occurred over the past two years, in the case of payments and eCommerce, there is no denying its impact. The pandemic has shifted consumer behaviour and expectations. It has changed the way that shoppers pay, and merchants get paid – for the better. 

Innovations that were already emerging pre-pandemic have been fast-tracked and are now firmly part of the status quo. From payments via QR codes and mobile wallets, to seamless, highly personalised online shopping experiences – it’s not only the norm, but also, now the expectation of consumers.

Payments helping to drive the shift to hybrid

A blending of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail with eCommerce has created hybrid shoppers and merchants, where customer experience is front-and-centre.

Fundamental to this transformation are revolutionary payments systems. Till Payments reports that brands with a hybrid presence now make up 35% of its customer base, compared to 47% for solely physical retailers and 18% for online-only. 

Businesses that have leaned into emerging digital innovations across payments and services have reaped the benefits in revenue and insights, whereas those who have fallen behind in their digital transformation journeys are feeling the impact of disjointed legacy processes. In 2021, 80% of consumers now say that they abandon a retailer after three bad experiences1, meaning that there are businesses that are very quickly being ruled out from building relationships with this new discerning shopper. 

eCommerce 4.0: consumer trends to watch 

Yearly comparisons from May 2020 shows that the number of transactions from hybrid retailers has increased 96%, when compared to May 2022, and is only set to rise. On the front-end, shoppers are noticing the following three key trends in the world of eCommerce and retail: 

  1. Bringing eCommerce in store 

From ordering drinks at a bar by scanning a QR code on your table, to browsing the ‘endless aisle’ and taking advantage of unified commerce experiences at global retailers like H&M, businesses are leveraging the organic return to in-person experiences in new and exciting ways.

2. Explosion of a marketplace style environment 

Traditionally, shoppers would go direct to a brand for a particular item, either in-store or online. Today, we are increasingly seeing brands offering shoppers a broad range of products and services, positioning themselves as a one-stop-shop by consolidating several potential transactions across a number of separate retailers under the one ‘roof’. Think: Bunnings with its expansion into homewares and whitegoods. 

3. Removing friction

There was a time where online shopping would follow a similar standard process: browse website, add items to cart, begin transaction, enter relevant details and finalise transactions with payment. Now we are seeing the emergence of frictionless, seamless transactions, where there is an instant pay as you go process that removes potential hurdles along the journey. Seamless payments have positive benefits, both for shoppers who expect a highly intuitive, personal experience, and merchants who benefit from a single source of truth and the data analytics gathered at every point of the customer journey. 

Unified payment ecosystems bringing value to merchants in this new era

The legacy payment system landscape is complex at best. There are many examples of existing retailers – like large supermarkets – who over the years have built a sprawling patchwork of siloed systems servicing various channels – whether that’s in-store terminals, website, mobile app, third party payment options like Buy Now Pay Later, one or several loyalty programs or analytics. 

Modern payment systems seek to turn this approach on its head by going beyond the ‘payment step itself’ and establishing a holistic payment ecosystem that’s supported by plug and play tech that doesn’t require a huge investment of time. A service that would typically be reserved for larger enterprises is now accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes thanks to payment fintech disruptors like Till. 

Not only does a simple, effective and scalable payment system enhance the customer experience, merchants can now avoid long set up times and the headache of interpreting and reconciling multiple payment systems in the back end; opening up capacity to focus on using the wealth of data at their fingertips to enhance their product or service. 

Chris Hicks is chief revenue officer and co-founder of Till Payments.