Payments as the Simplest way to Engage and Retain Customers

By Flora Leoni, Head of Data, CRM and Services at Carrefour Italy

It’s nothing new under the sun that the paradigm of loyalty is changing. Retailers are struggling with disloyal customers, new technologies, economic constraints and a world pandemic like Covid-19, that speeds up this disintegration process. So how to deal with this scenario? Complain about the situation or just roll up our sleeves?

Italian retailers have to cope, like other countries, with the so-called ‘impatient consumer’, who wants their needs to be satisfied “here and now”. The mobile experience, enhanced with geo-location and always-on connectivity, and the influence of other industries, like social networks and streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Spotify, have accustomed the consumers to real-time and extra personalized experiences, as Forbes pointed out in 2017 (*).

The rise of instant gratification requires brands and retailers to create a lot of micro-moments to get consumers attention and the more they create them, the more fragmented a relationship they build, undermining the foundation of traditional loyalty.

But there’s still space for competition if retailers can work on three simple assets that build the pyramid of customer satisfaction: Reassure, Simplify and Amaze.

So how can retailers and brands play the game in this competitive scenario and scale up the pyramid?

As a professional working within the Gift Cards industry for many years, with a brand new role in Carrefour, managing CRM, loyalty and data, I would say that, more than ever, we should focus on the payment process: the real turning point to create not only loyalty but also conversion.

But let’s look in order, analyzing how payment can help in each phase.

1. Reassure

Trust is one of the pillars of the relationship between brands and consumers. We can build it in many ways, but keep in mind that whatever we do in a shopping funnel, can be ruined by a bad payment experience.

Securing the payment phase by choosing the right payment service provider is key when it comes to credit and debit cards, but we should be aware that Gift Cards and shopping vouchers can also play an important part in relation to payments.

2. Simplify

A seamless experience is the mantra of the customer experience design and more than ever, is crucial to a smooth payment process. Considering all payment methods and all channels, wherever they are, in-store or online, consumers want to have the same payment experience.

I struggled a lot, in Carrefour, to design the gift card payment experience both in-store and online because I was aware that consumers do not see any difference between the two channels and they would like to use their cards wherever they want, depending on their needs. In November 2021 we finally launched the payment with Gift Cards on our website We are not the first, I know, but it took so long because we wanted to design the experience exactly as it is in-store, and I can tell you, when it comes to grocery e-commerce it is not that easy.

3. Amaze

Finally, we can do more to create a real differentiating experience and payments can really play the lion’s share. Imagine what you can do if you simply add a digital wallet to a retailers’ app: in a single touchpoint, it’s easy to add all payment methods (credit cards and gift cards included), discounts, coupons and loyalty cards.

The wallet is not only a storage tool, but it becomes a real source of information that can mix transactions and behaviours. If used smartly, it’s a way to engage consumers with personalized offers, right in time and content, relevant and effective for both retailers and customers.

If you ask why retailers are leaving the ground open to other players like Google, Apple, Samsung, Stocard and start-ups, I would say they haven’t yet seen the opportunities behind payments. We need to speed up to find our own solution or partner with other players in order to convey the most relevant experience to customers and grab the value we still leave behind.