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Retail is dying, but not dead

Peter Keenan, CEO of payments marketplace APEXX, explores the rapid decline of the high street, and payments’ role in saving it

  1. So what’s the problem?

Traditional retail is dying and it seems there’s no denying it.

Peter Keenan CEO APEXX – sitting at desk
Peter Keenan CEO APEXX – sitting at desk

In fact, the Doomsday Report from the Centre for Retail Research found that a staggering 61,000 stores have closed since 2012. Rather alarmingly, the report highlights 2018 as the worst year since the financial crash as it is predicted that 71,602 stores will have shut up shop by the end of December and a further 31,000 stores are predicted to close by the end of 2022.

But this isn’t all that surprising.

We live in a day where consumers can find and order products in minutes and get them delivered the next day – leading to the popularity and success of brands like Amazon and ASOS.

But many businesses haven’t made the leap from trusted shop around the corner to the slick ecommerce outfit that is required today. It’s businesses like these which fail to adapt and have outdated and inefficient processes that won’t just be left behind, but cease to exist.

Big brands that have defined the high street for years are disappearing at an alarming rate. We’ve already lost the likes of Toys R Us and JJB, while brands like New Look Mothercare and even Marks and Spencer are all closing masses of stores in an attempt to stay above water.

And while they may serve very different products, their problem is the same. They have failed to keep up with the rapidly developing digital economy.

  1. Why can’t businesses avoid the ecommerce revolution?

Ecommerce is not just something businesses ‘should have’ – it is an area of fierce competition and a vehicle to drive success.

As Blockbuster learnt the hard way when they turned down the opportunity to buy Netflix for only $50 million in 2000, businesses shouldn’t be simply online or offline. With so much competition out there, the differentiator is no longer the product, but the customer experience and the ease of making a purchase.

Businesses’ online payment offering should be an extension of their online stores. Purchasing a product should be as simple as the process of walking into a store, paying at the counter, and walking straight back out.

And while business strive to improve efficiencies and reduce costs in every area, what is one of the most important aspects – payments – is too often overlooked.

Whether you’re an independent on a multinational business, your online offering needs to equal or surpass the competition if you are to survive in the current climate.

In a globally connected world there are massive opportunities for businesses to thrive. But many businesses are failing to capitalise on this. Too often, international customers have their transactions declined or cancelled while they struggle to use ecommerce platforms that aren’t suited to their local markets.

Consumers expect the same seamless payments experience and processes wherever they are in the world and if they don’t receive this, they buy elsewhere and whether your goal is trying to survive locally or scale globally, losing customers is damaging.

If businesses fail to recognise the importance of their payments systems, we’ll only continue to see the retail sector crumble and high street choice fade.

  1. How is the retail arena evolving?

When streamlining operational costs is a focus for every business, online payments is rarely the first thing to come to mind, simply because the payments ecosystem has been too difficult to navigate.

Modern tech changes everything, merchants are able to explore the global payments market so they can integrate with multiple acquirers, automatically routing any payments through the best acquirer to fit their specific needs. In turn this allows retailers to increase sales, dramatically increase conversion rates, maximise payments performance, reduce the cost of accepting payments, and, as a result, increase sales by passing on lower costs to their customers.

By integrating with multiple acquirers, retailers can offer hassle-free payments to customers anywhere in the world. In fact, everyone wins. Not only are checkout processes faster and more efficient but retailers also access lower payments processing costs. These can be passed on to customers without affecting profit margins and make customers much more likely to return.

As the market continues to become increasingly globalised and competitive, businesses that embrace change will excel while those who don’t are likely to become an anecdote in a cautionary tale.

About APEXX (www.apexxfintech.com)

APEXX was founded by acquiring and payment-technology experts with a mission to simplify global commerce through technology. APEXX is agnostic to which members of the payments industry we work with, so our customers can benefit from the full capabilities of all their services collectively. We do not compete with our own suppliers.

The APEXX team aspires to always be on the leading edge of new payment technologies and products, so that our merchant partners are always able to accept the ways their customers want to spend. With an incomparable network of contacts in the payment space internationally, APEXX enables customers to expand with both the ease and comfort of experienced consulting.

APEXX has already won the support of a host of high profile international partners including Alipay, iZettle, NTT DATA, Visa iPay88, Payvision, Credorax, SIX payment services, Paysafe Group, Processing.Com, Transact Europe, CardStream and JetPay.