There’s been a shift in consumer buying patterns over the last several months when it comes to internet shopping. Several e-retailers are beginning to see people shopping online for more “everyday” items – this as opposed to the standard Web fare of music downloads, specialty items, auction items, gifts, etc.
The logical extension of this shift is that the amount of goods and services purchased via the internet is going to grow. In the last two months of 2007 retail spending online using a credit card – aided by the holiday shopping season — topped the $25 billion mark.
All of this points to the absolute necessity of anyone with a Web store offering its customers credit card services if they want to compete in the virtual marketplace in the months and years ahead.
The merchant services companies, who provide the avenue for e-retailers to accept credit card payments, have done their part by making the process more streamlined than ever. Most of the major companies now have a simple online application that Web merchants can fill out in the same amount of time it takes to secure a domain name. And some applicants can have their card processing services operative with 24 hours of acceptance.
And while consumers do have concerns about the security of online transactions, at the same time they have a growing discomfort when it comes to dealing with a Web-based retail entity that doesn’t not give them the option to pay buy credit card. Their typical reaction is that there must be something “wrong” with any e-store that doesn’t offer the option of charge cards, whether they plan to use their plastic or not.
Plus, many want the buyer-protection packages that come with a majority of credit card purchases. This takes the anxiety out of online shopping – that is, the unease they feel because they are paying for something they won’t actually have in hand until days after the purchase.
Another factor that should spur e-stores toward offering credit card services is the next generation of young adult professional consumers. Commonly referred to as unicvv Generation Y, most of these consumers are in college right now but are already facile with the use of shopping via the ‘net and using a credit card.
The logical extension is that as they transition out of college and into the workforce – with the accompanying increase in their disposable income – they will continue to use the internet as a shopping venue, only with increased buying power and a more comprehensive shopping list.
The cumulative conclusion is that the consumer use of credit cards to handle their online shopping is only going to increase, as will their desire to shop for more mainstream fare. As such, e-business owners that want to profitably ride this wave need to make sure their merchant services needs are taken care of today.