Download the November 2021 Cross-Border Retail Payments to learn more about alternative and local payment options in cross-border eCommerce retail sales

The eCommerce market experienced significant growth in 2020 when pandemic-related restrictions made it difficult for consumers to conduct in-person transactions.

Na’Imah Muhammad, owner of wig and hair extension retailer Brazilian Bundle Me, said she noticed an unusual increase in online sales during this time.

“Brazilian Bundle Me is a brand that caters to shoppers globally,” Muhammad told PYMNTS in an interview. “Many consumers were able to spend more time engaging in different social media apps and [doing] more online shopping.”

Customers’ shopping habits continue to evolve amid a worldwide reopening of storefronts, but the global cross-border payments market remains in full swing, with volume expected to reach $156 trillion in 2022. This uptick represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses looking to extend their brands to other geographical markets. Still, organizations must consider consumers’ regional payment preferences to satisfy increasingly diverse buyer demographics.

Preferred Payment Methods Increase Consumer Loyalty

Consumer trust is one of the most critical business assets needed when selling to international markets. An onslaught of cyberattacks since the pandemic began has made consumers more wary online and less likely to provide personal information to sites that seem suspicious. In November 2020, 15% of consumers reported a growing disillusionment with digital payments security during the past year. Offering customers their preferred payment methods increases their likelihood of feeling secure about new platforms.

“Accepting a variety of payments has been a game-changer for Brazilian Bundle Me, making it nearly impossible to miss a sale,” Muhammad explained.

More than half of consumers have made cross-border purchases during the pandemic, and many more plan to do so. Nevertheless, 59% of online shoppers say they are not willing to give a retailer in another country a second chance if they are unsatisfied with their initial purchases. Offering alternative payment methods can be a powerful way to combat consumer wariness of international sellers. If a buy now, pay later (BNPL) option were available, for example, 54% of online shoppers said they would be more willing to make purchases from a company in another country. Muhammad said her experience supports this finding.

“Over time, I received many inquiries for curbside pickup, Afterpay and cashless payments,” she said. “Brazilian Bundle Me is preparing to accept partial payments using an app similar to Afterpay, Klarna [or] Quadpay.”

Customers Demand Contactless Options

Although consumers were eager to adopt online purchasing habits during the pandemic, many still preferred to retrieve their items from local stores rather than having them delivered. Companies implemented curbside pickup to cater to this demand, and these “click-and-collect” purchases garnered $72.5 billion in sales in 2020 — more than twice as much as in 2019.

The feature’s growth trajectory continues to point upward, suggesting that hybrid online and in-person shopping habits have become the norm. Muhammad said she has also observed a persistent demand for contactless pickup.

“In no time, our new ‘pay online and pick up curbside’ [option] became routine in 2020,” she said. “Our curbside pickup is still offered as of today.”

Digital wallet payments are now tied with credit cards as the most preferred payment method worldwide. Businesses that offer numerous payment options can attract a broader customer base than those with just traditional capabilities. This is most relevant to cross-border retailers. Muhammad said she expects that convenience will ultimately keep driving the use of alternative payment methods.

“In addition to any traditional online purchases, Brazilian Bundle Me accepts Apple Pay and PayPal on our site,” she said. “Overall, it is my expectation that consumers will continue to use the most convenient form of payment presented.”

Companies looking to increase their brands’ international appeal should consider the payment preferences of the markets they aim to serve and implement appropriate technologies accordingly.

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