This Year UK Retailers must Prepare for a Cyber-Christmas

Andrew Quartermaine, Vice President Merchant Retail at ACI Worldwide, says a strong digital presence and robust payments strategy are crucial to have a successful festive period

2020 has been a challenging year for retailers, and the COVID-19 crisis has caught many unprepared. With millions of people in the UK in lockdown, consumers and businesses have had to change the way they work and live, as well as the way they shop and pay too.

Supermarkets initially struggled to keep up with customer demand and social distancing rules, or ran out of delivery slots as the demand for online shopping, home delivery and click-and-collect options skyrocketed overnight. But for those who adapted quickly and have been able to serve their customers in new and innovative ways it has also been a year of new opportunities.

For this year’s Christmas shopping season, global payments data collated by ACI Worldwide projects a 27 percent increase in global eCommerce transactions over the holiday period October 2020 through to December 2020. This is based on our latest eCommerce tracker, which tracks hundreds of millions of eCommerce transactions around the globe. We also forecast a 40 percent increase in click-and-collect sales.

Furthermore, our data also shows that the second wave of COVID-19 lockdowns in the EMEA region has already resulted in a more than 100 percent increase in eCommerce transactions in the retail sector from November 1-4, 2020. And as consumers prepare for the Christmas shopping season, concern over lockdowns has driven early shopping, with a 53 percent increase in the retail sector in October 2020 compared with October 2019.

However, we expect these changes in retail behaviour to outlast the current crisis and banks and merchants need to adapt their business models in order succeed in the post-COVID 19 world. Today, a majority of consumers expect a digital-led shopping experience, a global trend that has been accelerated by the current pandemic. Businesses that have a strong digital presence and strategy, whether they are big or small, will therefore have the edge in today’s competitive environment.

Consumers are now more channel agnostic than ever, expecting similar experiences digitally and in stores. Retailers need to learn from the lessons of the first lockdown and make sure they have a robust payments strategy in place across all channels in order to keep up with demand. Now is the time to shake up check-out options: COVID has caused a massive shift towards online payment options in various ways (click and collect, delivery of goods and so on.) Retailers must ensure they are adapting to offer the various payment options customers now expect.

Ultimately, while this has been a challenging year for merchants and the retail industry, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. By having a strong digital presence and a robust payments strategy in place and ensuring that their fraud prevention measures are robust across all channels, retailers can take advantage of the new world of shopping and have a successful festive period.

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