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Engineering the ecommerce experience

September 24, 2014

Ecommerce systems are constantly changing to meet the demands and expectations of consumers.

Ecommerce systems are constantly changing to meet the demands and expectations of consumers. The online behavior of consumers follows certain trends that require online retailers and merchants to keep up. Today consumers are increasingly using their phones to make online purchases and browse several retailer sites, not just Amazon.com or EBay.com. In light of recent news regarding stolen credit card numbers and hacked Apple iCloud accounts, consumers prioritize security. Additionally, in terms of systems, online retailers are constantly working to streamline their sales platforms with their back-end systems – to ensure a seamless experience.

What online consumers expect today
The online customer profile is changing. While 80 percent of consumers use their personal computers to make online purchases, 28 percent use their mobile devices to do product research and 17 percent will finalize those purchases on their devices, according to PYMNTS.com. Of those surveyed by Vantiv, 17 percent said they would prefer using a cloud account to make payments over traditional cards. Prepaid cards were seen as being the more secure form of payment as security in online purchasing was a major concern.

As more people gravitate towards shopping online, customers are not limiting their exposure to one channel but instead browse multiple channels. A common way to shop for many consumers, approximately 46 percent, is to conduct research online but purchase more expensive items in stores. Consumers expect that retailers will be the same whether online or at the store, noted Vantiv. Accordingly, it is increasingly important for online merchants with already-established stores to have the necessary systems and infrastructure to handle traffic online. Vantiv vice president for ecommerce partner sales, Michele Herron, advised that creating recurring revenue streams requires sophisticated systems.

“Simply accepting payments in an online environment requires different approaches to things like interchange, charge-back management, payments continuity, and dispute resolution,” wrote Herron, reported PYMTS.com.

One major point of concern, for consumers and merchants alike, is security. According to Vantiv’s survey, 20 percent of participants have canceled a purchase due to data breach. Stolen account information is a major deterrent to make credit card purchases, whether online or at stores. As a result, the need for security-related products has risen. Senior vice president for merchant product and security at Vantiv, Patty Walters, mentioned the various technologies that are being requested.

“They want EMV in their stores, and they want point-to-point encryption, advanced fraud-detection capabilities and tokenization that works across channels,” wrote Walters, according to the news source.

Integration of front-end and back-end systems
Merchants are required today to streamline all their systems. The interfaces that customers deal with must link into back-end systems and provide a seamless experience. Successful ecommerce platforms require that orders are received, processed and delivered efficiently and flawlessly. Sometimes matters are complicated when customers purchase items online that they expect to pick up at a store. Retailers need to know that their inventory systems are constantly up to date so that a customer does not order items that are out of stock. Coordinating all aspects of inventory with the online sales platform can prove to be difficult. If a customer visits a store expecting to pick up an item that is not there, it is possible they will not wish to do business with that retailer again.

Success in ecommerce requires that merchants constantly adapt to consumer needs. Pools of data are being added to everyday which detail how consumers shop, what methods they prefer and which factors deter them from making purchases. Merchants need to be quick to change their approach in order to keep up with shifting trends and new technologies. Vantiv president of ecommerce, Bill Weingart, believes that online merchants are currently engineering what the customer experience ought to be.

“As merchants are finding, that can be a lot of work, but it can be key to building loyalty and profitability as e-commerce continues to grow,” wrote Weingart, reported PYMTS.com.

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