A Year in Online Retail Payments: What to Look For in 2017

President Donald Trump. Brexit. Two big changes no one – or rather, not enough people – saw coming. That is to say, predictions, even dozens of data-backed polling models, don’t always materialise.retail experience

However, even with that in mind we know that online retail is going to keep growing into 2017. Consumers won’t stop spending. The global economy is fundamentally strong, regardless of who occupies the White House. Online and m-commerce retail: those trends show no sign of slowing down.

Here are our predications for 2017:

1#: Continued Growth in M-Commerce

In the UK, online sales are already up 15.1% year-to-date (January to September), according to IMRG-Capgemini forecasts for 2016. The overall annual forecast has been increased to 15%. Smartphones are driving the retail experience, up 82.8%, compared to tablets, which were the device of choice in 2014.

Clearly, not only is Google ranking mobile-orientated retailers higher, but so are consumers. Expect this trend to continue at a pace in 2017. Even Brexit had no noticeable impact on e-commerce, with Q3 2016 (July – September) recording 17% year-on-year growth.

2#: Live Customer Engagement

When shopping online, customers fall into three broad categories, according to Gallup: “actively disengaged, indifferent and fully engaged.”

Actively engaging customers drive 44% more visits and spend more, with average basket values £67 higher. There are numerous ways to do this, including Live Chat windows through websites (such as Zendesk), social media and on smartphones; using Facebook, WhatsApp and other messaging services. Although this would force people to switch between apps when shopping (which will become more common as Instagram introduces retail options) it could also reduce abandoned carts and increase loyal customers.

3#: Chatbots and Machine Learning

FAQs could go the way of shopping on desktops and writing cheques. Chatbots are the future, coming to a small screen in your pocket. Instead of employing staff to respond to customers 24/7, retailers can use machine learning-powered chatbots to answer questions and support the consumer experience.

4#: Bitcoin 

Like gold and low-risk bonds, Bitcoin, as an alternative currency, is seen as secure in uncertain times. It is also nearly impossible to use in a fraudulent purchase, unlike credit and debit cards. As of 1 June 2016, there was over $1.46 trillion in circulation. Bitcoin has surged since Trump’s victory, making it a potentially viable payment option for more retailers. 

5#: Mobile Wallets

Another consequence of an increasingly mobile-driven retail experience is that more payments will be processed through mobile wallets. Starbucks already takes 20% of in-store sales through smartphones. Expect this trend to continue into 2017.

6#: Even Faster Delivery

A key differentiator for many online merchants is the ability to deliver goods in a timeframe that meets the needs of their customers. Where once 3-5 days was seen as fast, now next day is viewed as standard. Same day delivery is a service that many customers are prepared to pay extra for. This is definitely a trend to watch closely as many retailers currently offering same-day delivery in specific areas, are looking to expand this service nationwide.

7#: More Personalised ‘User Centric’ Shopping Experience

Delivering a user-centric customer journey is also a trend we predict will continue to gain traction in 2017. This represents the ability to optimise a customer’s journey based on previous purchases, products viewed, and remarketing; including social selling. The personalised customer journey also continues to the payment page, with one-click payment options and an optimised checkout process using the customer’s preferred payment method and delivery options.

2017 will be another exciting year in online retail payments with new technologies coming to the fore, and others in development. Watch this space!