Smart checkout experiences will help merchants get ahead in 2023

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Smart checkout experiences will help merchants get ahead in 2023.

By Paul Adams Head of Enterprise Retail at Trust Payments.

It has been a tough year for merchants, with inflation and the cost of living crisis keeping consumer wallets tightly shut. Although high streets saw the return of in-store shopping and Christmas retail footfall was the highest in 2022 since the global pandemic, consumer behaviour has changed drastically.

Research at the end of 2022 found consumers intended to buy less and spend less on average, so basket size fell. Other consumers were found to be looking at free deliveries or Click and Collect services to lower shipping costs. Demand for smart, hybrid checkout experiences has and will continue to grow in 2023 as inflation makes cost and convenience priorities for consumers.

Merchants must think of innovative ways for both physical and online experience to coexist as over half of Brits believe shopping online is cheaper than physical retail. Technology such as automation and cloud inventory management can help merchants master consumers’ selective spending to become first-choice over competitors. 

Giving customers choice at checkout

As the connection between shopping, social media, and digital grows, so do consumer expectations. Merchants need to look beyond the standard checkout and payment methods, as those who are innovative with the checkout process will keep customers coming back.

The modern consumer requires choice at checkout, such as self-service, Click and Collect and touchless customer experiences, enabling them to pay one way and collect another. The benefits are not just for consumers, as alternative checkout options give richer customer behaviour insights to merchants. Data can be used to improve operational efficiency, manage inventory, identify trends and make informed strategic decisions. Merchants can look at the pain points in product, price and payments to improve the overall customer experience and unlock new customer groups. 

Technology is the tool merchants need to create an effective omnichannel strategy and deliver a seamless buying experience. With the right infrastructure in place, merchants can deliver a consistent and frictionless customer journey by using the data available to them. Merchants can switch-up their checkout choices, offer customers rewards for loyalty, have real-time visibility of transactions and equip employees with the information they need to work more effectively.

Simplifying systems 

To get smarter checkouts, merchants need an end-to-end view of their customer journey and align their technology with this to manage online orders, payment and refund processing. If merchants rely on old, independent operating systems, friction can easily happen. An all-in-one e-commerce platform means merchants can connect online, offline and mobile to identify issues and reduce basket abandonment rates. 

Reducing the number of steps a customer takes to checkout will significantly improve customer conversion rates. If customers can click on a guest checkout, understand the costs and policies and have multiple payment and delivery options, they are less likely to be met with barriers that will cause them to click off. 

Another way to deliver smarter checkout experiences is to ensure payments are secure and compliant with regulations. Optimising payment processes with two-step authentication to make customers feel confident to pay and reduce the burden of payment issues on customer service teams. The last thing merchants need during an economic downturn is to receive chargebacks on purchases, so implementing security measures to mitigate the risk of fraud will help merchants focus on growth. 

Re-inventing inventory management 

Whether customers Click and Collect or have their parcel delivered at home, merchants can use technology to elevate inventory management and how products are delivered to customers. A cloud-enabled solution, for example, can offer active views of stock to better processes, availability and selling. 

Merchants can combine stock and behaviour data to offer personalised discounts to customers and make recommendations based on past purchases. Not only does this drive growth and profitability but caters to customer needs and makes them feel special. 

When integrating physical stores with e-commerce, there is a risk of disconnection with channels if manual processes take up too many resources. With Click and Collect becoming a popular option for consumers wanting to make savings, merchants can use automation to free up employees' time in physical stores to create memorable customer experiences. 

Combining customer data, cloud inventory management and automation will transform the hybrid checkout experience. A single overview across warehouses, stores and fulfilment centres in one digital platform will be a game-changer for merchants looking to deliver a blend of physical and digital.

The future of commerce

One-click buying and hybrid delivery options are the golden tickets for consumers in 2023. Convenience and low costs are a priority for consumers, so merchants must optimise every commerce channel to make it simple to browse, purchase and receive a product or service. 

As the cost of living crisis and rising inflation make commerce a challenge for merchants, building an omnichannel strategy tied together by technology will be crucial. Merchants can make the most of their inventory with cloud-based management tools, free up employees from manual tasks with automation and use customer data to hyper-personalise the shopping experience. 

Although the economy is unpredictable and shopping baskets are smaller, consumers will not cease shopping completely. It’s the role of merchants to be innovative with their approach to be one step ahead of competitors in 2023.

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