With all sorts of digital services at their fingertips, consumers are looking for convenience when they purchase products or services. Consumers, for instance, are swapping their cable channels for digital streaming subscriptions or using rideshares instead of public transportation services. And these digital services are only expanding in the United States as well as other places around the world.
Netflix, for instance, added 6.4 million international subscribers in 2018 and now boasts 137 million global users, according to the PYMNTS Connected Commerce Playbook. And, whether a service offers streaming or on-demand delivery, it needs to make purchasing and payments as seamless as possible for the consumer.
From 7-Eleven to H&M, retailers are adopting digital payments and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to bring more convenient experiences to their customers. These are just some of the ways that these merchants are evolving to meet the commerce and payments needs of the modern-day connected consumer:
Chinese cross-border shopper’s average annual spend is $848. And retailers with brick-and-mortar locations in North America are starting to accept Chinese mobile payment systems. Convenience store operator 7-Eleven, for instance, said in November that some Canadian stores would take WeChat Pay and Alipay. In a press release at the time, the company noted that it was working with cross-border mobile payment company CITCON on the effort. 7-Eleven Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Officer Gurmeet Singh said of the initiative, “With 67,000 stores worldwide, Alipay and WeChat Pay are just one of many solutions that we provide our global consumers so they can enjoy a frictionless experience in our stores.”
The annual amount that cross-border digital platforms will spend on AI by 2022 is $7.3 billion. It was reported in January, for instance, that artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime was gearing up for a financing round that could amount to $2 billion. As it stands, the company has already had large international investment partners such as Alibaba Group. In fact, Alibaba led SenseTime’s Series C round and was said to be the company’s biggest investor in 2018. Alibaba Group Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said in 2018 that “SenseTime is doing pioneering work in artificial intelligence.” He added that the company was “already seeing tangible benefits from our investments in AI, and we are committed to further investment.”
The share of customer interactions projected to be handled by AI in 2023 is 80 percent. Adidas, in one case, teamed up with AI platform provider Findmine for product recommendations. By using AI technology, the sportswear brand was able to offer suggestions for outfits to shoppers online. In the past, Adidas merchants would have to manually put together outfits for the “Complete the Look” feature. That process could take 20 minutes — and 27 steps — to finish. With the rollout of the new feature, however, Adidas has seen a 95 percent decrease in the time merchandisers spend on “Complete the Look”. At the same time, the company has noted that the number of items featured in the outfits spiked by 960 percent.
The combined projected growth of North American, Asian and European non-cash transactions by 2023 is 70 percent. And retailers are working to integrate innovative payment options into their offerings. H&M and Klarna said in October, for instance, that the two have inked a partnership in which they will further integrate H&M’s digital and brick-and-mortar stores. Through the arrangement, Klarna was to power the brand’s Club payment program and provide an omnichannel customer payment offering. In addition, the payments company was to provide a post-purchase service as well as other services that were to be announced. H&M was also to make an investment of $20 million in the payments company.
The share of Americans who subscribe to some form of streaming service is 57 percent. Music streaming service Tidal, for instance, now accepts Venmo as a way to pay for the service. While new users can select the service as a payment option when they sign up, existing users can also choose the service through the service’s website. The news comes as Tidal has tried out features lately such as personalized playlists, master-quality audio on Android and integration with Plex. And, in other recent streaming payments news, Hulu and Venmo teamed up to provide Venmo’s payment services in December.
While retailers from Tidal to H&M are working to provide payment options that create more seamless online experiences, they still have to keep factors other than convenience in mind: Merchants, in one case, have to comply with new regulations such as European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as they head into new markets, too.