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Editors’ Comment – May 2013

Welcome to the latest in our regular series of Internet Retailing supplements. In this edition, we’re going back to basics and putting payments and fraud under the microscope. It’s a salutary reminder of an area of ecommerce that can easily be overlooked in the rush to focus on weightier issues, such as ecommerce platforms, or on whizz-bang areas such as flash websites and marketing campaigns. But, as we argue throughout this supplement, to do so would be a mistake, for payment and fraud are crucial to the well-functioning online retail business. No transaction can be complete without the ability to pay, and no business is safe without strong yet flexible fraud screening in place.

But although we talk of going back to basics, payments and fraud must today of necessity be viewed in the light of the increased sophistication that’s permeating a now mature industry. Since we last looked at this area, the emphasis has shifted. Where previously merchants might have sought to keep fraud rates low, now payment processors are increasingly hearing that clients want something more: to make businesses as profitable as possible. That means increasing the number of ‘good’ transactions that happen on sites, and curtailing restrictive fraud screening in order not to frighten away potentially profitable customers.

And at a time when retailers are looking both to new sales channels and to new markets to boost the bottom line, payments and fraud concerns now reflect this. A few years ago, the emphasis was on getting payments right. Today it’s on getting international payments right – and on rolling out fraud screening to suit an international audience. It’s also on navigating these two areas amid the increasing complexity of multiple sales channels. Both for shoppers’ convenience and their own protection, retailers are today looking to extend their payment and fraud systems across the store, the call centre, online and mobile commerce. That brings, of necessity, a great deal of added complication to the ‘basic’ task of enabling payment and managing the checkout.

Over the coming pages, therefore, we look at the key issues that internet traders need to consider when they consider this central part of their online commerce business.

We do that through the prism of our usual features: web interface, merchandising, cross-channel experience, logistics, strategy framework and customer engagement.

In our interface and design feature (page 8), we look anew at the idea of best practice in checkout design. How do the complexities of cross-channel sales and international commerce play in here?

Then our merchandising section (page 12) looks at ways that retailers can best promote their payment options to convince shoppers that the choices on offer are both relevant and attractive to them, while simultaneously reassuring them about the safety of using them. We also consider how that task of merchandising the payment process can translate to other markets, and cross sales channels.

In our cross-channel experience feature (page 16), we’re prioritising joined-up thinking, examining the challenges of updating systems that link the store, the call centre and more besides.

Meanwhile, our logistics feature (page 20) considers the practical aspects of achieving balance in fraud screening systems. Much as reducing fraud is laudable aim, how can retailers work towards something different: the balance between tough and flexible screening, which enables merchants to keep taking orders from loyal customers while ensuring they do not become a target for fraudsters.

We focus on strategy framework in our piece on page 25, examining some of the upcoming issues that merchants must consider in order to keep their multichannel business ahead of the curve. “Mobile money,” says WeDo Technologies’ Ana Cunha, “should be on the radar for all retailers.” But in this feature we’re also looking at the payment and fraud priorities when considering emerging markets, and consider the gradual rise of the digital wallet – and what it means for retail boards.

Finally, our customer engagement feature (page 28) looks at the need for merchants to inspire trust in existing and potential shoppers. We look at key practical steps they can take in order to achieve that, both on and beyond the website, and in both the UK market and in the crucial international markets beyond our shores. It’s a serious issue, as Jean-Marc Noel of Trusted Shops reminds us in the feature when he says: “Without trust there is no trade… and the payment is eventually the result of the trust in the transaction.”

Throughout, the What’s New boxout tells you how the market has changed since we last covered payment and fraud, in May 2012.

We hope you find this supplement useful. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future supplements, do contact us. We can be reached at or


Chloe Rigby has been writing about business issues for more than a decade. A former business editor of the Bristol Evening Post, she has written for a wide variety of online and offline publications.

Jonathan Wright earned his e-stripes on the UK launch of Business 2.0, which rode the crest of the wave back at the turn of the millennium. Since then he’s been writing about subjects from entertainment to alternative investment for a variety of print and online audiences.

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