For the third consecutive year, Cyber Monday 2018 shattered records with $7.9 billion in online sales, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history.1 With Cyber Monday breaking online sales records in 2017 and 2016 as well, it’s no secret that eCommerce can be a boon for businesses looking to grow sales.
What’s less obvious, though the implications are beginning to stand out, is the emergence of a digital global economy in which consumers disregard national borders while shopping. Already, more than a third of global shoppers make online purchases on non-domestic sites. That includes a quarter of U.S. shoppers.
With these figures expected to rise each year, merchants are presented with an enormous growth opportunity. “The most successful companies will be the ones that can meet the new global demand and serve an increasingly diverse customer base,” says David Ades, executive vice president, general manager and head of North America sales at Bank of America Merchant Services.
To do this, merchants will have to develop a global payments strategy that keeps costs low, minimizes fraud, improves sales and creates a frictionless buying experience for customers, no matter their location around the globe.
A major challenge of selling to customers in different countries is meeting a variety of payment expectations. Consumers want to make purchases with familiar payment methods, whether that means using their local currency or one of the growing number of alternative payment methods.
“We call them alternative payment methods (APM), but they’re really the dominant payment tender used by consumers in those markets,” says Ades. Alipay, WeChat Pay, Mobile Pay and more already account for the majority of global online retail payments.3 Soon the APM market is expected to surpass $10 trillion.4
With hundreds of APMs already available and many more entering the fray each year, merchants must focus on accepting those that are most prevalent in the markets they wish to target. For example, in Sweden, about 40 percent of all eCommerce sales are made through the APM Klarna.5 If a business wants to develop a consumer base in this region, accepting Klarna is crucial.
Understanding consumer payment preferences enables businesses to offer the most relevant payment types by region, which in turn satisfies the customer and helps establish brand loyalty.
Sjoukje Goldman, a senior lecturer in strategic marketing and research at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, says it all comes down to trust. “Consumers trust companies that have done the research and accept the currencies and payment methods they’re used to,” she says.
Developing an effective global payments strategy goes beyond accepting multiple currencies and payment methods. With multiple platforms come more friction points as merchants face the prospect of building different processes around each APM, including integrating fraud mitigation add-ons specific to each region in which they do business.
Effective management of chargebacks, authorization rates, transaction routing and consumer authentication is another challenge for global businesses. On top of all this, the legal climate differs from country to country, and companies must deal with a variety of contract expectations and taxation laws.
Integrated eCommerce solutions can help minimize the friction caused by multiple platforms. These solutions help companies build a payment infrastructure that accepts the currencies and APMs most relevant to their global goals. What’s more, they simplify processing by offering one API, one settlement contract and one financial statement.
“To unlock their growth potential, businesses must combine a global strategy with a local approach,” says Kevin Lotfi, senior vice president of global solutions at Bank of America Merchants Services. “An optimized payment solution should provide the necessary infrastructure for merchants to do business in the countries of their choosing, without the difficulty of dealing with multiple integration and connection points.”
Under this model, dynamic pricing allows consumers to use their desired method of payment, giving them a familiar, reassuring shopping experience with no unnecessary friction points. Merchants benefit from additional revenue streams and a more global market presence.
As with any market, new global customer bases must be scrutinized to identify unneeded costs and areas of opportunity.
Consolidated reporting can help companies analyze payment trends by location and payment type, as well as providing a complete view of the purchase process from gateway to settlement. It can also help keep tabs on interchange rate management, card network advocacy, payment routing The alternative payment market is expected to surpass $10 trillion4 optimization, clearing speed and processing costs. Real-time access to such data, including funding, disputes and fees, can further drive business decisions.
Operating in many different countries, and accepting a multitude of payment options, carries the possibility for increased levels of fraud. A fully integrated global eCommerce solution will use algorithms to learn about new global transactions, ultimately keeping optimization rates high and fraud rates low.
“A fine-tuned solution clamps down on fraud without turning away good transactions,” says Lotfi.
Global eCommerce, already a potent force for businesses, will only grow more prevalent over the coming years. APMs will likely continue to ascend in popularity, further marginalizing credit cards as means of digital payment. And payment will become even more frictionless for consumers as transactions move toward invisibility, and biometric authentication becomes better established.
As eCommerce virtually eliminates borders between businesses and consumers, expanding digital commerce is a requirement for business growth. Says Ades, “The companies that get a foot in the door now are the ones that will benefit most down the road.”
“The companies that get a foot in the door now
are the ones that will benefit most down the road.”