Unified commerce approach helps corporates meet increasing demands on payments

Tuesday 29 June 2021 07:39 CET | Editor: Alex Guzu | Interview

The Paypers sat down with Wilco Slabbekoorn, Senior Vice President at Nets Group, to learn more about the consumer behaviour after the pandemic and the future of the payments landscape

You started your new position as SVP of Retail Europe at Nets, recently. What inspired you to join Nets and what will your role at the company entail?

Nets Group is today among the top payment providers in Europe, handling billions of digital payments and related services annually. Fostering innovation and keeping a strong focus on the development of new products and services, the group strives to make consumers’ transactions easier and more intuitive every day. And the next chapter is yet to come: the merger with Italian payment provider Nexi is at the doorstep. All the required regulatory approvals have been received and the merger is expected to come into effect in the beginning of July 2021. Together, both companies will continue their journey to create the leading pan-European paytech.

All this is a very challenging but definitely appealing setting to me. In my role, I am responsible for building one international sales organisation, and guide and support the commercial retail organisation to serve high demanding local and international retailers in their omnichannel transformation in a very fast paced, dynamic, and digitally accelerating landscape, where consumers want to enjoy a seamless experience across our merchants’ channels.

We know neither you nor your customers have a crystal ball, but what are your expectations of consumer behaviour after the pandemic?

Even though there already was a ‘digital first’ mindset for a significant number of consumers before 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer’s habits and behaviours sustainably towards digital channels. Through the obligation to buy online, consumers got used to purchasing products from the comfort of their homes – and have learned to appreciate it.

Today, even in Germany, more people prefer to shop online rather than in store, as our E-Commerce Report for the DACH region 2020 shows. After the return to normality post-COVID-19, numerous consumers will retain the behaviour of shopping online. In addition, consumers will increasingly no longer want to make a clear distinction between online and offline. Retailers and service providers must adapt to this new normal.

What still seems to be clear, however, is that payment preferences differ from country to country which was last confirmed in our international E-commerce Report 2020 we did in eight countries across our footprint. This confirms, that even if we are aiming to become the leading European paytech, a local understanding and approach to our customers is still key.

How is the high street being affected? How can retailers and brands attract customers to their shops?

The economic struggles, uncertainties, and changes in consumer behaviour caused by COVID-19 forced companies during 2020 to quickly respond and adapt their business models and rethink distribution channels at breakneck speed. Companies that are visible on the web today and no longer focus on the sales channel, but on the customer, can bring them back to their shops by addressing them in a customised way, with individual offers and a cross-channel shopping experience. It will be all about blurring all channels, and creating the brand and product experience, combined with loyalty and up- and cross sell opportunity for the retail community. Selling via social media has massively increased during the pandemic since more consumers are utilising social media in their purchases to find products and connect with brands. Many brands, such as Nike, Sephora, Rituals, or Douglas, already demonstrated that.

This can all be realised via a so-called unified commerce approach. Different companies and corporate forms can be brought together in one system – even across national borders. For multi country retailers, it will no longer matter whether someone buys running shoes with a credit card in Italy, orders them in a webshop in Germany, or books the premium version of the corresponding training app in France. Everything runs into the same payment system and can be evaluated via unified and fully automated reporting.

What are the top priorities for payment managers in this context?

Since consumers now increasingly favour card-based payments, e-wallets, and other digital payment options over cash, all merchants – even SMEs – need to digitalise and must adapt their offering to meet these new demands. Payment managers are challenged to define and implement a future-proof payment experience that enables merchants to offer consumers a sustainable unified commerce shopping experience. Payment will be the unique identifier that gives 'flavour' to CRM and customer lifetime value. In addition, especially large companies are increasingly looking for cross-border payment solutions that can be used throughout Europe. At the same time, different national payment preferences will continue to exist among consumers. All this strongly increases the demands and expectations on payment and its managers.

How will the payments landscape for retailers evolve over the next three years?

All in payments will continue to focus on customer convenience. There will be the need for merchants to provide a consistent and, ideally, at the same time, less visible and less noticeable payment experience across all sales channels following the unified commerce approach.

In addition, we will see many new payment options that offer a seamless checkout experience. These include mobile terminals in shops, downloadable terminals on mobile phones, in-app payment solutions, and QR payments. It will be critical for retailers to offer the right payment mix for the specific social demographic profile in the customer landscape.

About Wilco Slabbekoorn

Wilco Slabbekoorn is the Senior Vice President for the Retail sector in Europe at Nets Group. He works directly with clients on the strategic issues they face as they pursue growth and international expansion. At Nets, Wilco is responsible for building one international sales organisation, and guide and support the commercial retail organisation to serve retailers in their omnichannel transformation, and act as the Nets retail ambassador in the market.


About the Nets Group

Nets is a leading payment provider with more than 4,000 employees located across Europe. The company helps financial institutions, businesses, and merchants across Europe make tomorrow a little easier for their customers while delivering unrivalled security and stability.

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Keywords: Nets, ecommerce, COVID-19, SMEs, online payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: Europe
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce