While brick-and-mortar retail has mostly been at a global stand-still this year, there has been a surge of digital sales along with innovative partnerships and investments from both suppliers and retailers in ebusiness capabilities both for B2B and B2C in the wake of the global pandemic that has changed shopper behaviours indefinitely.

With the acceleration of the digital transformation of business as a result of Covid, new challenges are brought to the fore and innovation focusing on customer-centricity in the path to purchase is paramount.

Dylan Piatti – MD at Africa Advantage Group International SA and Mahmoud Fawzy – Head of Corporate Digital Channels at the Commercial International Bank (CIB) in Egypt weighed in on the topic of trust for e-commerce payment gateways specifically in a recent webinar hosted by Seamless Africa. Here’s what they had to say: 

Changes and emerging trends in e-commerce 
“The concept of digital transformation isn’t new and we’ve helped businesses transform their organisations for years but what it has highlighted is the difference between those who have already started the journey, and those who are now being forced to react and transform due to the fact that they simply have no choice – some of them even begrudgingly so”, says Piatti.

“While the digital transformation is a leadership decision, when we move it down to what it means for the business, it comes to the question of ‘how do we implement this to ensure that our customers have the best possible experience whether it is B2B or B2C?’ We have to take an outside-in view versus a myopic one”.

This change is happening at a rapid rate and we are seeing an increase in sales across different sectors, specifically in the grocery sector. We are also seeing an increase in late adopters coming onboard with the e-commerce experience and we are going to see an increase in those who are now using e-commerce as an alternative to brick-and-mortar.

“Big retailers may see it as a move that will potentially cannabalise their instore sales but this is not the case”. Dylan explains how, as a result of working with retailers in China, he has seen a significant growth in what he calls OTO (offline to online) marketing and the integration of those two channels. 

What has been happening is traditional buyers for brick-and-mortar would make decisions and move the products to different stores. Now, we are seeing an integration with those buyers to work closely with their online teams on buying decisions and what that means in terms of SKU’s and product categories, pricing and promotions, differentiated from online versus offline or where you are going to be using online to drive sales offline.

“It comes down to three key things in relation to payment gateways in this context”, notes Piatti
  1. Userability
  2. Flexibility 
  3. Trust (Security)
On the increase of online purchases, Fawzy notes: “We have seen a 70 percent increase in online shopping compared to last year, as well as a 150 percent increase in mobile use. These numbers are indicative of how much the market dynamics are changing as small businesses are moving towards online platforms and there has been a huge impact on purchasing patterns in the ‘new normal’ as compared to before”.

Securing consumer trust with the best payment gateways 
“From a trust perspective, we need better standardisation and collaboration in-border, regionally, and I believe continentally”, says Piatti. If we move it down a level to actual user interface and interaction on the site, there are a couple of things that impact this significantly. Firstly, is it easy to go through the entire payment process? We are talking about the payment gateway but the whole idea of trust and decreasing drop-off rates is the entire user experience or journey online. so it is not just about the last payment process. 

Secondly, on the specific point of purchase, is it easy to make the purchase? Are you verifying or pre-veryfing the customer beforehand? Another point to consider is whether or not you are taking the customer’s payments offline to a third party.

“We need to reduce the amount of sensitive and unnecessary data we are requesting and gathering from customers”, says Fawzy. “Building a user-friendly and convenient site is vital for a customer-centric approach. It is also important to have a SLA agreement in place with the customer”.

Trust is earned 
“If you create some kind of explicit service-level agreement with your customer that you adhere to, you are going to create a trusted relationship with them.
Trust is earned at every point of engagement with both your existing and potential customer. This trust can also be broken very easily”, says Piatti. “You have to look at your business in its entirety as this is not only about the point of purchase, but it is about the path to purchase – the entire way you approach customer-centricity. That in itself requires us to think about how we do it. Do we do it internally, or do we partner with external contractors who are experts to help us ensure we are on the right track? This is a normal business challenge”.

Piatti concluded with these two tips on increasing digital trust:
  • Ensure you are verified
  • Increase your payment gateway options
“From the merchant side, pricing and integrating online platforms with payment gateways is important. Offering a variety of payment methods is also very important”, concurs Fawzy.