The past 18 months have led to a whirlwind of change in nearly every facet of life, but as the dust settles, consumers are adjusting to a “new-new normal” and trying to move forward.
“They’re starting to say, ‘OK, eComm is a bigger part of my business than I imagined it would be 18 months ago. How do I become really good at it? How do I compete with the guy down the road?’” he told PYMNTS.
Some of the adjustments include the growth of buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup, trends that will continue as retailers upgrade their websites or mobile apps, Gessau said. PYMNTS has found that 44 percent of consumers say BOPIS would encourage them to shop at physical stores, and 72 percent of millennials are making more online retail purchases than they were prior to March 2020.
But with nearly every merchant and brand trying to find their way in an evolving world, retailers are looking for better insights into customer behavior.
“For most organizations, the fear is that their competitor across the street has a better handle on it,” Gessau said.
The problem, he told PYMNTS, is that retailers “know they’re sitting on a goldmine of data, and they’re not sure how to get the most value out of that.” Many have turned to ACI, which has a payments analytics tool that pulls in-store, online and mobile data together “in an appealing and understandable way.”
ACI has found that as consumers move between different interaction points. They want a personalized, recognizable experience no matter which channel they’re shopping in, “and not to make somebody feel like a brand-new customer when they suddenly shop online for the first time,” said Gessau.
Consumers are also changing the ways in which they pay, moving from reliance on credit cards to paying with Venmo, PayPal or a buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider — and Gessau said merchants need to make sure they’re keeping up.
“Understanding how the consumer wants to interact through the shopping, the buying and the payment experience is critical,” he said.
Real-Time Payment Growth
Gessau said real-time payments “received a shot in the arm” during the pandemic, driven by the confluence of consumers’ increasing comfort with the option and their desire for less physical contact amidst a public health crisis.
“The consumer market is forever changed in the way they think about things,” he said.
PYMNTS research has found that 33 percent of retail shoppers would like to pay using contactless cards, and 80 percent of consumers are interested in new connected commerce experiences to potentially reduce their exposure to COVID-19. Even so, 52 percent of consumers still want to use their credit card while trying new connected commerce experiences, and 46 percent still want to use their debit card.
“That will take some time to change,” Gessau said. “But it’s going to start where it often starts, which is in the younger generation.”
Generation Z will likely start thinking about real-time payments the same way previous generations thought about cash — as an immediate and instant payment option — with the bonus of being one more thing that can be handled with a mobile phone, he said.
Going into the holiday season, Gessau said he expects strong year-over-year growth of real-time payments.
“It’s growing, and it’ll keep growing,” he told PYMNTS. “And it’s still got a lot of room to grow.”