A whole new era for shoppers

February 28, 2023 11:29
Photo: Xinhua

Shopper behavior is always evolving, but the changes have been much more significant in the past few years, accelerated by various payment-oriented technology and applications as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local consumers are exposed to a wider variety of payment methods. JPMorgan’s Global E-Commerce Trends Report expects digital wallets to replace cards as the first payment choice by 2024, as it offers a more seamless customer experience and faster transaction speed. Meanwhile, 71% of consumers in Hong Kong prefer to pay with a card rather than cash, as reflected in the Adyen Hong Kong Retail Report 2022.

While the pandemic encouraged shoppers to shop through online platforms more frequently, physical stores have their own edge and remain an important touchpoint. Therefore, it is important that retail businesses and POS solution providers combine physical and digital worlds to create a channel-agnostic experience which prioritizes the customer journey.

A pain-point among many retailers is the complexity of managing multiple payment systems and reading data on different platforms, as it hinders operational agility. Fortunately, the complexity can be greatly reduced when unified commerce enters the game. With unified commerce, payments from all channels – online, in-app, and in-store – are processed on the same system, enabling businesses to connect transactions to individuals and build a deeper understanding of their shoppers’ preferences. Ultimately, businesses are able to make smarter, data-driven decisions to provide a more seamless and flexible experience for customers. For instance, they may utilize the consolidated payments data to understand where customers are from and pinpoint the optimal store locations that would gain traction and traffic.

The importance of unified commerce is also underpinned by the change of consumption preferences in the post-pandemic era. As much as consumers turned online to shop in the past couple of years, they have been gradually returning to physical stores as the pandemic eases. The Adyen report found that 63% of Hongkongers prefer to shop in-store, and 40% say they have a new appreciation for being able to touch, feel or physically try products before they buy.

The report also revealed that 65% of Hong Kong consumers would be more loyal to a retailer that allows them to buy things online and return in store, and that 67% would love to see in-store sales assistants use technology to assemble items from their online wish list in the changing room ready for them to try on. Clearly, offline shopping remains a priority for shoppers, but there are greater expectations for such experiences to be convenient and enhanced with technology. Cross-channel integration becomes key for retailers to create easy, nonlinear customer journeys, catering to the specific needs of customers.

In order for retailers to cater to consumers’ new expectations on their shopping experience, they need to catch up with cross-channel integration. Retailers who continue to use technology, such as unified commerce, to improve customers’ journey and meet their needs will likely become the winners in the digital era.

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Head of Hong Kong at Adyen