55% of retailers and merchants in the EMEA region are planning to increase their investment into new payments capabilities in the next 18 to 24 months, according to the 2017 Global Payments Insight Survey: Merchants and Retailers by ACI Worldwide and Ovum.
The report, which surveyed more than 260 EMEA retailers and merchants across industries such as general merchandise, grocery, restaurants, fuel and convenience, and travel and lodging, reveals that infrastructure improvements (54%), security considerations (53%) and introducing analytics to payments (47%) are the main drivers behind these investment plans.
There is near-universal agreement among merchants that new payments technology is beneficial for their businesses, with half agreeing strongly thi sis the case. This reflects a sustained shift from seeing payments as purely transactional to being part of the overall customer experience, as well as a differentiator between competitors. 25% of merchants remain overly cautious about payments, but the majority report that payments are a clear part of their business
While merchants generally feel that consumers appreciate having a range of available payment options and wish to offer new payment types, not all are confident about their ability to do so. This reflects the breadth of new options now available, and the increasing complexity of payments
processing systems. Less than two-thirds of merchants currently believe that they have a single view of their customers across channels, further highlighting the growing complexity of the merchant environment.
While the benefits of payments are well regarded, 83% of merchants also strongly believe they need help reducing their costs around payments processing. The challenge merchants now face is figuring out how to lower their costs while simultaneously increasing their capabilities.
Since the release of Ovum’s first Global Payments Insight Survey in 2015, there has been steady growth in merchants investing in their payment capabilities. 59% of merchants across all categories now state that they plan to increase their payments investments during the next 18-24 months, against 50% in 2015.
This uniform shift across geographies is particularly pronounced in the UK where over
68% of merchants are planning investment increases. Existing pressure for merchants to
maintain spending and keep up with their rivals is evidenced with 82% seeing payments
investment as a way of gaining a competitive advantage.
The biggest change seen in the 2017 survey is that more merchants are reporting increases
of over 5%, compared to a previous focus on smaller 1-5% increases. Businesses dealing
with high volumes and a focus on speed, such as supermarkets, are seeing the biggest shift
rate of increase in their investment.
Even in sectors where speed is less critical to the overall customer experience, overall rates of investment are extremely high, with 58% of travel & lodging firms increasing their investment. Tellingly very few merchants and retailers report a decrease in their payments investment levels.