Retail is currently experiencing a transformative shift due to the digital revolution that has altered consumer behavior and expectations. This change is not just technological but also sociological and psychological, affecting shopping habits and retail experiences. Retailers must now navigate complex relationships with an increasingly demanding customer base that values seamless experiences across all stages of the value chain, from search to delivery and beyond. 

BearingPoint’s outlook on payments acceptance

BearingPoint interviewed selected payment experts and decision-makers in the Finnish retail commerce on how payment acceptance is transforming and how the changes are perceived by the merchants. BearingPoint’s first-hand project experiences and the desktop analysis complement the survey. In parallel with the Finnish survey, we also conducted a European payments behavior study to examine consumers’ payment habits and preferences across Europe. The results of the study are referred to also in this report, where applicable.  

Retail is undergoing a significant transformation 

The explosion of new technologies has enabled the emergence of a completely seamless customer experience. Unified Commerce is emerging as the next evolution after omnichannel retailing, focusing on integrating retail processes and systems to engage customers throughout their journey. This approach emphasizes selling a vision, prioritizing mobile and API development, enhancing social media capabilities, ensuring traceability and transparency, optimizing resources, and reorganizing customer touchpoints. 

The payments ecosystem in expanding and evolving rapidly 

Merchants operate in a payments ecosystem consisting of several parties, where all have an important role in building and maintaining a well-functioning landscape. With the evolution of the ways in which customers pay and how business is done, there are now more players involved, and numerous different payment service providers have entered the ecosystem to facilitate payments acceptance and related adjacent functions. What’s more, regulation is shaping the payments industry, with new directives like PSD3 and PSR extending regulatory requirements further. Sustainability and AI-driven processes are also expected to become increasingly relevant. 

Payments as part of the Customer Experience 

Payments are an integral part of customer experience, and merchants face challenges in selecting from a multitude of payment options, balancing reliability, cost-effectiveness, and innovation. Identity management is also becoming crucial for creating personalized customer experiences, enabling businesses to tailor the right offers to the right customers. 

The role of payments in creating a good customer experience has been acknowledged in e-commerce for a long time, but it should be one of the focus areas in physical commerce as well. There are great differences in how merchants have adopted the idea of integrating their payment processes to support the customer experience. A seamless integrated payment flow can contribute to the overall customer journey in a very positive way. It is not only about offering the right combination of payment methods, but also thinking about how and where the payment processes are integrated into the overall flow. 

Key trends to observe within retail payments

  1. Changing customer expectations 
  2. Regulatory demands 
  3. Role of the mobile 
  4. Alternative payment rails 
  5. Complementary services

Recommendations for merchants 

Merchants should focus on creating a holistic and seamless payment experience, leveraging technology and integration to enhance customer journeys. In our report, we have collected four call-to-actions for merchants on how to adapt to the changing landscape of payment acceptance. 

  • Make payments part of the customer experience 
  • Be ready to mix physical and digital 
  • Expand the role of the mobile devices 
  • Create a strategy for Unified Commerce 

How can BearingPoint help in the field of retail payments? 

BearingPoint can help you in retail payments by:

  • Conducting an As-Is assessment of your current payments landscape and highlighting the areas that need improvement 
  • Creating a clear payments strategy that helps linking payments and customer experience 
  • Assisting in finding and selecting the right vendors to fit your business 
  • Helping in implementing new payment solutions  

Download the report

  • Outlook on Payments Acceptance
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