Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been two categories of merchants in terms of how they have been impacted and how they see the optimization of payment processing, Manuel Huez, vice president, product, payments processing at, told PYMNTS.

First, there are those used to selling online. They’ve been there for a while and have already worked on optimizing payments — making sure that transactions flow nicely for both merchant and consumer. For these companies, an increase in payments failures is making a compelling case for further optimization.

“For them, it’s something that they’ve been used to doing and just continue to scale because of how much payment has gone through online throughout the pandemic,” Huez said.

Then, there are the ones that have had to move in a rush. In doing so, they’ve quickly realized that accepting payments online is a completely different game. And they’ve had to tackle a steep learning curve — fast — to capture customer demand.

“From an optimization point of view, it’s something the pandemic has really scaled for merchants — especially the ones that were not selling online that much in the past,” Huez said.

Accessing the Tools to Improve Payment Processing

To improve payment processing and create a premium experience for consumers, merchants need access to the right tools. Among these is having the right access to the data they will need to drive that performance. Insights from data gleaned from response codes, for instance, can give merchants better visibility into why their payments are failing.

“Before you can even take any actions, you need to understand what needs to be done and why,” Huez said.

Another tool that’s needed is the ability to take action. Once a business has the data and understands what needs to be done, the merchant must be ready to act on it. “It’s about having this good flexibility,” he said. Huez discussed the value of partnering with a payments processor that will both provide merchants with the insights they need to improve performance and support them throughout the improvement process.

Trying to Solve New Use Cases and New Challenges

Looking ahead at growth areas, Huez highlighted a continued move from offline to online, subscriptions, social commerce, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and new forms of payment. Each area, he said, represents an opportunity for merchants to attract and retain customers by meeting their needs at the point of sale.

“Buy now, pay later is an example that has been growing very recently, there are definitely going to be others that follow, and it’s always going to be to follow user needs,” Huez said. “When you have a new use case coming up or you have consumers that face a new challenge, you’re always going to have new actors popping up trying to solve them.”

As merchants learned at the beginning of the pandemic, things can change quickly. Huez noted that while online commerce was already growing, the pandemic has accelerated everything, and change will continue to occur apace.

We live in a time when things can flip 180 overnight, he said. “For me, that’s really what’s exciting about the market, is how fast everything can move.”



About: It’s almost go time for the holiday shopping season, and nearly 90% of U.S. consumers plan to make at least some of their purchases online — 13% more than did in 2020. The 2021 Holiday Shopping Outlook, PYMNTS surveyed more than 3,600 consumers to learn what is driving online sales this holiday season and the impact of product availability and personalized rewards on merchant preference.

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