What do consumers want? Merchants think they have the answers: ease, efficiency and instant gratification. Oh, and security, too – but not at the expense of that frictionless user experience.
Merchants, it turns out, are wrong – at least about a large chunk of their consumers. Although some customers (millennials: cough, cough) may value convenience above all else, that youthful sense of fiscal invincibility does not extend to their elders, who place a higher premium on transaction security.
“The more sophisticated and mature consumer is not buying into the efficiency market,” said Todd Linden, CEO of Paysafe Payment Processing, North America. “Millennials may be less concerned with risk. The convenience side continues to grow, so there is something driving the easy buy, easy pay environment.”
Linden unpacked the findings of a recent whitepaper by Paysafe, “Lost In Transaction: Volume II,” which showed what consumers really want from their eCommerce experience. Here are four key takeaways to glean from the report:
- Consumers value security above user experience. To Linden, this came as no surprise, with a seemingly endless string of data breaches making headlines in recent months. It’s only natural, he said, that the number and magnitude of these breaches is making consumers cautious. Merchants can address this by requiring their acquirers to help more closely with the merchant acceptance process, Linden said. Many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) take a “hodge-podge” approach to transaction processing, which doesn’t build consumer confidence. When the merchant acquirer steps up its game, said Linden, consumer confidence will follow.
- Confidence is based on how consumers’ data is protected. The public has been forced to become savvy, and that goes deeper than just looking for the little green padlock and “https” in the URL bar, Linden said. Many consumers are reading the fine print for the first time. Merchants can now come right out and say how they are storing consumer data, then ask the consumer whether he consents to his data being stored in that way. Strong relationships with acquirers and with customers are also critical factors in generating trust, but Linden said the best thing merchants can do is to openly identify with the stronger eCommerce security and PCI compliance measures on the market.
- Trust is not always based on facts. Consumers are likelier to place their trust in brands they recognize, but Linden said they should not do so blindly. Big brands like Target, Home Depot and Equifax have experienced massive cyberattacks, while less prominent ones may be more watertight. Merchants should take time to invest in quality KYC –Know Your Customer – practices, Linden said, to protect legitimate customers from fraudulent ones.
- Money can’t buy security … but it can help. Linden said merchants must consistently make significant investments in security, but money alone is not enough. Technology must evolve to keep pace with cybercrime, and so must the processes through which payments are facilitated. In the end, the merchants, the banking system and the regulators will have to contribute before security is as strong as it can possibly be – and even then, it will never be perfect, Linden said. Fraud losses move around and strike in different places, but they never go away. “Every time we fill a gap in the process, a new one is discovered,” Linden said. “Staying involved is just as important as spending money.”
Efficiency could be the primary casualty of increased security, which is why so many merchants have been reluctant to change things, but Linden said they must compromise on the idea of “frictionless” if they truly want to serve consumers to the best of their abilities.
Linden said it’s worth it to “belly up” with card brands and security companies that are more well-known and sophisticated, even though their products are also more expensive. After all, there’s a reason the value is higher.
Along the way, Linden believes “gentle but meaningful” reminders that friction points are in place to protect the consumer can go a long way toward helping the buyer swallow the inconvenience.
Perhaps striking the balance between convenience and security is as easy as Mary Poppins told us years ago: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”