Choosing the right payments service provider for luxury retail

Based on his experience at Burberry, Colin explains how the right payments service provider can help transform luxury retail.

Does this sound familiar?

As you expanded globally, the complexity of your businesses increased. To scale quickly, you adopted local payments service providers (PSPs) that were plugged into already complex back-end systems. But, as consumer behaviors evolved, this strategy has left you with a challenge:

If these PSPs don’t talk to each other, how can you deliver the unified experiences expected by your shoppers today?

These days, shoppers choose how and when to interact with a brand. The customer journey is no longer linear and has no boundary in either time or geography. Customers shop in store, on their smartphones, and on social media. And they expect a consistent brand experience every step of the way. 

Oh - and they share their experiences online, especially when they’re not happy…

Identifying the right payments service provider

In January, I had the pleasure of attending NRF (Retail’s Big Show) in New York. On the exhibition floor, was a sea of vendors all promising to solve the challenges faced by retailers today. Putting myself in the shoes of a luxury retailer, the main question I had was: 

If all payments service providers tell the same story whose story do I trust?

Having worked in luxury retail for 10 years, I know that luxury brands aren't set apart by the problems you're trying to solve, but how you approach them.

Three core needs of luxury retail

There are three common needs luxury brands face: 

  • Simplify your business model 
  • Unify your customer experience
  • Drive brand innovation

Simplify your business model

If your business model is simple, you can respond to changing consumer demands and ensure you maintain a culture of innovation.

But it's hard to keep things simple when you're wrestling with multiple providers. Traditionally, you'd have separate providers for each payment method. This meant multiple contracts, integrations, partners, settlement processes, and technical support contacts. And we haven’t even started with the regulatory requirements for each market.

By consolidating your operations with a single payments service provider, things become much simpler. You'll have:

  • One contract for all local payment methods, so you can enter new markets quickly and easily. No need for new integrations, adding methods is as simple as flipping a switch.
  • One platform for all channels. This removes the inefficiencies that come with disjointed legacy platforms and gives you a single view of your customers.
  • One reconciliation/settlement process that reduces the burden on finance.
  • Standard reporting across all channels giving you real-time performance insights. 
  • One set of performance measures and SLA’s with a 24/7-support network.

Unify your customer experience

Today’s customers engage with luxury brands when and how they want. So, it’s critical that all touch-points are consistent. 

But this is difficult to achieve if you use different systems for each market and channel. In this case, your view of customers is restricted to those who log in to make a purchase. 

To deliver a unified customer journey and capitalize on a single view of the customer, you’ll need:

  • Saved cards to be available in all every channel and optimized with a one-click (or no click) checkout.
  • A 360-degree view of customer purchases across all touch-points of the brand.
  • To drive conversion by presenting preferred payment methods early in the checkout flow.
  • Mobile point of sale (mPOS) terminals for more flexibility to your in-store experiences.
  • A flexible online checkout with a consistent look and feel.

Drive Brand Innovation

Innovation is a core topic for luxury retail today. Product innovation, digitizing stores, and social engagement platforms all help to drive growth. So digital transformation is high on the agenda for leading luxury brands today.

Innovation requires collaboration with like-minded technology partners.

Innovation requires collaboration with like-minded technology partners. Payment service providers (PSPs) are not traditionally regarded as drivers of innovation. This is because multiple back-end integrations have inhibited innovation amongst payment providers.

But many luxury brands are learning that payments has a place on the strategic agenda. You need a partner that will work with you to ensure payments deliver value across your whole business.

When evaluating potential payments partners, you should make sure they: 

  • Support Chinese payment methods like Alipay, Union Pay, and WeChat Pay.
  • Support Direct Currency Conversion and seamless VAT Refunds.
  • Stay on top of the latest payment trends and be ready to adopt emerging payment methods.
  • Provides granular insight into credit card processing to help improve authorization rates.

Invest your money and resources carefully

Integrating with new technology partners can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It requires effort and buy-in from across your organization. So it’s important you take the time to ensure you’re investing in the right partnerships.

Hopefully, I’ve provided you with a useful checklist of services and features to look out for. As I learned at Burberry: If you get it right, the benefits will reward your efforts and investment ten-fold.

Want to learn more?

We'd love to set up a meeting and discuss how we can help you simplify your operations, improve shopper experiences, and drive brand innovation. Get in touch to get started.

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