Is innovation the new superpower for retailers?

According to the latest research from eCommera says that 9 out of 10 retailers report they are taking innovation seriously, with plans to invest an average of 12 per cent, and increasing prioritisation of mobile payments.

Already 69 per cent of retailers already have mobile payment technology in place, with the UK leading the way globally with 85 per cent of UK retailers using mobile payments, says the study. The largest retailers globally (those turning over more than £500m) boast the highest adoption levels of all types of technology – with 85 per cent already using mobile payments.

A separate report from global retail property experts Colliers International agrees, showing that the way people pay for their purchases online and in store is being revolutionised by mobile devices.

In most countries mobile payments are still in their infancy, but the technology providers and consumers in some markets have quickly adopted this type of payment method.

As technology becomes more widely available – and country populations shift to being digitally urban – the scale of growth for an increase in online retailing activity is enormous, says Colliers International’s report. The increasing use of mobiles to conduct sales is also on the rise and China shows a much closer correlation between mobile usage and use of mobiles for retail.

Italy, Poland and Russia appear far less prone to using mobiles to conduct online transactions, despite higher usage/ownership rates – “it’s good to talk”, after all.

Many retailers already report half of their online sales as transacted in this way. At least half of retailers’ website traffic occurs via mobile devices, according to GfK. M&S has reported that the number of visits to their website via mobile phones rose from seven million in 2012, to 80 million in 2015. John Lewis saw sales through mobile devices increase by 34 per cent and smartphones by 86 per cent in 2015. The online grocery retailer Ocado also reported that over 50 per cent of all orders last year were completed using a mobile device.

Taking into account the popularity of smartphones across the globe, the arrival of mobile payments was only a question of time. Android pay, Apple Pay, PayPal Wallet, Square – all these US-based mobile payment and digital wallet services are making their way to Europe. Europeans decided not to sit and wait – they are coming up with their own inventions in this field; services such as SumUp, iZettle, Swish and BLIK have been introduced.

Annabel Thorburn, Director of Retail Services at eCommera explained, “Mobile is now the dominant channel for retail and it’s great to see retailers treating it this way. But payments are only one piece of the puzzle and, with slow adoption rates outside of metropolitan areas, we’re yet to see them reach their full potential.”

She continued, “This is why it’s imperative retailers take this time to focus on the foundations of delivering an ideal experience at every point of the customer journey. One area where this is increasingly apparent is website stability across every device. Our research found four out of five retailers still aren’t confident their site will survive peak periods of demand, like Black Friday, without downtime.
“Before innovation in payments can truly become the number one priority, retailers must focus on these fundamentals. Without putting a solid strategy in place with robust technology to support it, they will continue to lose out on revenue and risk damaging customer loyalty.”