No one would argue that just over two years ago, the world as we knew it changed almost overnight.
The retail industry was no exception, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing an unprecedented short-term impact. In Europe, total retail trade volume dropped by 9.2% in March 2020 and by 11.2% in April 2020, while in the U.S. retail sales plunged by 20% from February to April 2020.
With traditional trading methods restricted by pandemic restrictions, an inability to sell through physical locations and a sharp downturn in demand, we saw merchants around the world taking an unprecedented leap and embracing innovation and digitalization in a bid to maintain their retailer-shopper relationships. This led to an increase in ecommerce sales by 14.2% between 2020 and 2021 in the U.S. and by 10% from 2019 to 2020 in the EU.
As the retail industry starts to return to normal in 2022, merchants around the world continue to respond to changing consumer behavior by embracing adaptability with open arms, in addition to being increasingly open to new technologies as part of their long-term strategies.
Multi-Dimensional Commerce: the COVID-Driven Opportunity
I believe that for many merchants, the impact of the COVID pandemic was not all bad news. The vast changes that we saw developing in human behavior, society and the economy didn’t just create new challenges – they also created new opportunities, such as commercial airlines operating cargo flights, hotels offering day rates for home workers or restaurants providing groceries alongside meals.
Countless businesses that had no previous experience with, or desire to create, ecommerce platforms, applications or online presences are now well-versed in a whole new means of trading, with many seeing it as the natural evolution of their business model. I know that merchants across the globe are continuing to discover new markets post-pandemic, with the cross-border ecommerce market expected to reach a value of $2.25 trillion by 2026.
But I believe that the future of retail will undoubtedly require even more change. The consumer desire for the convenience of online shopping is being matched by their desire for physical retail experiences. Their excitement at being able to browse in-store and feel the products that they’re buying is married with an attraction to the ease of paying with e-wallets and access to a global product catalog. For the modern consumer, multi-dimensional commerce offers more than just the sum of its parts.
Facilitating a Seamless Customer Experience with Technology Features
It’s clear that meshing the speed of ecommerce with the immersive in-store shopping experience provides huge growth potential for businesses willing to take the leap. Whether it’s merchants like Nike connecting the physical store and the online world with its new ‘digital’ retail experience or other physical merchants exploring biometric authentication, which already exist in sectors like banking, building and healthcare, businesses will need to be ready to take advantage of all of the new opportunities that multi-dimensional commerce can provide.
In fact, I’ve already seen new payments technologies such as QR codes, cryptocurrencies and contactless being embraced by consumers: 93% of global consumers say they are likely to consider using at least one emerging payment method in the next year. In my experience there are some merchants who believe payments technology integrations to be costly and unattainable, but there are equally as many merchants who are accepting these new attitudes and technologies to ensure they do not miss out on valuable revenue opportunities.
I would strongly encourage merchants to embrace these new technology solutions, as they can generate a wealth of data-driven clues about their customers’ buying behavior; how they like to pay; and the items they love to browse. Armed with these invaluable insights, merchants can supercharge their marketing offers with incentives that consumers won’t want to miss. Merchants no longer have to try and offload unwanted stock inventories onto disinterested shoppers, as they’ll know which items shoppers desire the most. Checkout conversion rates will surge into the stratosphere, and merchants’ revenues will swell with new customer acquisitions.
One technology opportunity merchants should be especially aware of is tokenization, which is used to create a single shopper profile. Using tokenization, merchants can create single shopper identities for their customers, enabling speedy one-click payments, and eliminating the hassle of using multiple log-ins, passwords and manual payment method entry. The customer gets a faster, better payment experience, and the merchant gains customer trust by stressing the PCI compliance, security and trustworthiness of these transactions, as well as how tokenization can make the buying experience even more convenient.
Readying Your Business for Multi-Dimensional Commerce
In multi-dimensional commerce, merchants can now tune into their customers’ buying habits, anticipating what they like and what they want to deliver an effortless, frictionless payment experience.
With support from the right payment solution providers, merchants can instantly get a 360-degree view of their customers’ payment lives and use the data-driven intelligence of today’s payment technology to give customers what they really want, when they want it. By doing so, I strongly believe that merchants can position themselves at the forefront of the multi-dimensional commerce revolution, while at the same time providing their customer with a superior payment experience. Win-win.
Moshe Selfin is COO and CTO at Finaro. He brings over 15 years of entrepreneurship and innovation in both startups and large companies. Previously Credorax’s Chief Revenue Officer and before that Chief Marketing Officer, Selfin spearheaded the company’s sales, branding and go-to-market strategy, leveraging his vast experience in sales, marketing, business development and product knowledge. Prior to joining Credorax, Selfin was Co-founder and VP of Marketing and Product at Kaminario and VP of Enterprise Solutions at Anobit Technologies. Previously, he was Head of International Sales and Business Development for the financial services segment at IBM, Solutions Director at EMC and Director of Business Processes Development at Elbit Systems. Selfin holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Information Systems and an MBA from Haifa University.