The retail technology and trends worth your time this year

By Benoit Boudier, Managing Director, SMB Online Europe, Ingenico ePayments.

The internet presents a wealth of opportunity for retailers – opportunity, but too many opportunities. In the struggle to make a splash next to the big online retailers, many growing businesses don’t know which trends to invest in and which ones to bypass. To succeed, they need advice to help them navigate the complexities of the digital arena.

So, what do growing retailers need to know? Let’s discuss.

Comply with changing regulations

Coming up in September, we will see Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) implemented under PSD2. This will have a major impact on merchants operating online – it will require their customers to authenticate themselves with at least two of the three following methods on every electronic transaction within the EU:

  • Something they know, like a PIN
  • Something they have, like the customer’s own mobile or laptop
  • Something they are, like a fingerprint or facial recognition

Understanding what the latest regulations mean for your business and customers is crucial for smaller retail operations to grow and thrive online.

Harness peak sales days

Peak sales days present a fantastic opportunity for budding eTailers to start building a loyal digital customer base. According to our recent pan-European study on peak sales periods like Black Friday, a quarter of online shoppers prefer small retailers during such events, rather than larger players.

There’s a simple reason for this. Competing in the ecommerce industry isn’t just about price. A quarter of respondents favoured other incentives such as unique products, loyalty and referral bonuses, an extended returns or exchange window, or free next-day shipping.

With this in mind, merchants should prepare well in advance for their own peak sales ventures, whether that be a universal day like Black Friday or a merchant-specific day like a hot sale for a brand new product. Planning way ahead can help open up the customer pool and entice potential overseas customers.

Engage with millennials

One of the tech trends making ripples in the eCommerce industry at the moment is conversational commerce – like chatbot technology. But is it strong enough to create waves? Chatbots can be used for a host of things, not just product advice and customer service, but payments too.

By paying through chatbots, younger consumers are much less likely to abandon their purchase compared to when they’re transferred to external web browsers. This is something Ingenico has seen first-hand, with our retail partners experiencing a six-fold boost in conversion when piloting chatbots, versus a mobile website. Using such technologies, small merchants can make themselves as appealing as possible for younger audiences, helping them stand out from the crowd.

Keeping up with the trends

Going online is not that different from setting up a brick-and-mortar store. Throughout history, consumers have needed to see the products they want to buy, and to trust the shops they are buying from.

The internet is no different. By understanding the trends, and harnessing the right partners and technology, small merchants can ensure their business provides an unbeatable experience for consumers, so they can truly thrive online.

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