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EDITORIAL How payments are becoming a new battleground for retailers

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Payments are one of the most important steps in the retail journey. All the merchandising, marketing, logistics, AI and social media come to nothing if people won’t actually click pay. But they don’t get the attention they deserve.

Research out this week finds that more than half of UK ecommerce SMEs (52%) reported being frustrated by slow response times and support from their payment service providers (PSPs).

Nearly two in five (39%) complain that communications methods are not appropriate to their needs, and over a third (35%) say that their biggest frustration with their PSP’s customer service is the lack of issue resolution.

More than a third of businesses surveyed have unresolved issues and a staggering 95% of those report service issues – just 5% were completely satisfied with the service they receive

This is staggering in an age when open banking has, for consumers at least, opened up how they pay in new and marvellous ways. While consumers are able to pay with one click, a tap, by instant money transfer or even stick payments onto their phone bills, the fact that retailers themselves are struggling to get the services they require out of their PSPs is shocking.

Surely it is time that a new breed of PSPs started to evolve that can match the variety and ease of payments that consumers have, with similarly good services for merchants.

Another place where ease of payments is also having an impact is on where shoppers choose to buy. Another study out this week finds that a third of UK shoppers don’t buy items on the site on which they discovered them and a whopping 43% abandon the online stores where they are set to make a purchase for Amazon at the checkout phase.

The research challenges the assumption that every site visitor is a potential customer. Instead, the results show 14% of consumers browse online stores every day without any intention to buy anything at all. In addition, while in the early stages of the research process, 37% of consumers are adding items to their basket to save them for later, not necessarily to purchase.

While price, delivery and availability drive much of this, some of it is driven by consumers knowing that, already having an Amazon account, means that they can simply checkout much more easily there. Payments, again, being the deciding factor.

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