Adapt or die: How digital payments keep customers loyal | Sponsored Content

This article was contributed and sponsored by PayPal.

Once upon a time, cash was king, and everyone used it. But today, being able to use digital alternatives is more than a mere convenience, it may be essential to satiating modern consumer preferences.

Today's consumers demand a more diverse checkout experience that considers how they want to pay for items, whether in person or online. And because of the coronavirus pandemic, they want less contact at the checkout counter when in-store.

Though the transition from cash to digital began before the pandemic, the nature of shelter-in-place protocols triggered a rapid acceleration in the adoption and usage of digital payment options. Now that consumers have adjusted to the flexibility, convenience, and comfort digital payment alternatives offer, some may not want to go back.

According to a survey taken by and commissioned by PayPal, 6 in 10 respondents said merchants who do not offer digital payment options will not get their business going forward.

Experts believe this shift towards a more robust, diverse digital payment experience that requires less contact at checkout will continue well after safety restrictions are lifted and people start to feel more comfortable shopping in person. Accenture forecasts that nearly 2.7 trillion transactions worth $48 trillion are expected to shift from cash to cards and digital payments by 2030.

If businesses want to thrive in this rapidly evolving world, the key may be to make the customer experience in your store seamless and hassle-free.

Starbucks in the US is a prime example of a large enterprise that has heavily invested in an omnichannel strategy that offers an effortless experience, and puts consumers first.

At Starbucks, their reward card can be topped up in real time via PayPal through a mobile phone, website, in-store, or on the app. If a customer is waiting in line for coffee and they don’t have cash, they can reload the card with money from their PayPal wallet, and by the time it’s their turn to order, their card is loaded and ready for the purchase.

“A successful engagement strategy, fueled by consumer data and insights, is the key to delivering a consumer experience that is both flexible and beneficial,” says Jason Test, vice president of digital and in-store commerce at PayPal.

“PayPal has a two-sided global network that is 400 million strong,” Test adds “That means we have insight into both the retailer and the buying patterns of their consumers. It allows us to retarget customers who have left items in the checkout cart through our Store Cash product. It allows us to engage consumers with store offers, discounts, and rewards through our Honey brand; and our Buy Now, Pay Later offering now has no late fees, which again helps encourage customers to make a purchase in a way that makes them feel most comfortable.”

Commerce is not a straight line. The rapid surge in ecommerce due to the pandemic has created a new digital dynamic to wade through. The good news is that customers are being clear about what they want and what they expect, not just now, but in the future of retail.

“This all points to the growing importance of the digital economy, not only online but in our physical existence as well,” Test says. “Companies need to be prepared.”

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