At Bloomberg’s July 14 virtual event, The Future of Data-Driven Digital Commerce, Bloomberg technology reporter, Amy Thomson, and Bloomberg News anchor, Caroline Hyde, engaged in a series of conversations with key digital commerce stakeholders.
The event started with a panel discussion focused on using payment data to drive a smarter business strategy. This panel included: Julie Deane, Founder and CEO of The Cambridge Satchel Company, Guillaume Pousaz, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Checkout.com and Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Klarna.
The second panel, hosted by Bloomberg TV news anchor, Caroline Hyde, focused on how digital payments can drive innovation. It featured Harriet Rees, Head of Data Science, Starling Bank, and Dave Montague, Senior Vice President & General Manager of eCommerce, Expedia Group.
Keep reading for key insights – and you can watch the full event on demand here.
A few of the key takeaways included:
- Julie Deane, Founder and CEO of The Cambridge Satchel Company, said that since the pandemic hit, an important need for her business is to start seeking real value and gathering information about the customer. She believes this data can be sourced easily and would provide insightful business intelligence. Julie has seen several changes to purchases since the lockdown started. At first, people purchased handbags, while sales of work bags dropped dramatically. However, once lockdown eased, consumers started to buy more backpacks and work bags. Julie believes that the pandemic has increased consumer interest in sustainability. Customers want to know what the brand actually stands for. “There is a strong need to know whether products are made sustainably and there is much more support for British brands,” she said.
- Guillaume Pousaz, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Checkout.com, said Covid-19 was a huge macro event — nevertheless, the key thing is managing the customers. Guillaume believes that understanding how to get more data from payment providers is vital. He also said that 70 percent of merchants stated that their service provider is not interacting with them. “A good service provider needs to interact with the merchant.” Guillaume said that Checkout.com saw a 60 percent increase in new cards signing up to use the platform, indicating that new people are going online for the first time. Another insight: many of these new consumers are older, so the pandemic has forced them to buy online. Guillaume said that security was a crucial element for online purchases, especially for those over 65, who take security very seriously. “So how you position security to first-time online users is critical.” He said that 35 percent of consumers are no longer paying with credit cards and that the methods of payment have increased in many markets.
- Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Klarna, said he had yet to see much change since Covid-19. Sebastian believes that the data collected by payment providers will start to be owned by the consumer and that merchants have a responsibility to use the data to provide a faster and an overall better service to the consumers. However, Sebastian sees these as general trends unrelated to Covid. He believes that payment providers could do a better job at educating merchants and also at connecting merchants to CRM tools to provide better insights into consumer spending. Sebastian stated that despite this time being a very “special one,” he still believes that consumer purchasing behaviors haven’t changed drastically. He believes people have shifted their behaviors slightly. Sebastian says he saw various phases of buying — from consumers stockpiling at the start of lockdown to moving on to buy computer games, then home gym equipment and ending with the final phase of purchasing DIY products. He stated that despite seeing an increase in online purchases, overall spending has dropped. People have more money in their accounts and they are turning away from credit cards and are using debit cards instead. Sebastian also noted that the fastest growing companies on Klarna are the brands that stand for something — like the Cambridge Satchel company.
- Harriet Rees, Head of Data Science at Starling Bank, said “Yes, Covid has changed our business. It was a realization on how reliant we are on digital. People realized technology is what will keep us going.” Harriet also stated the analytics behind Starling Bank’s customer behavior is what drives innovation. She said that the business has now been able to identify what customers want and that understanding how customers are interacting with them is core to everything they do. “The UK has seen such innovation in the financial system, the whole ecosystem is pushing forward day by day — which is remarkable. We have big pioneers.” Harriet said that Starling is not just a bank, it’s a whole new ecosystem. She went on to discuss the unbanked population, and said that it is a problem and there needed to be targeted efforts to bring everyone on board. “I think digital products work toward financial inclusion but won’t solve it. Starling helps to build products that help people with their money. But still there are prerequisites that you need in order to bank with us. You need a phone, you need to be online. We must have buy-in from a wide sector of the industry and a change in government policy.” When asked about the drive for more innovation and how this could impact security, Harriet stated that the population is much more data literate now. So fintech companies like Starling need to offer transparency in explaining to consumers about how data will be used. According to Harriet, this is something Starling needs to get better at doing.
- Dave Montague, Senior Vice President & General Manager of eCommerce at Expedia Group, said that the start of the lockdown saw his company issue hundreds of thousands of refunds and huge payments had to be reversed. “We had to innovate and develop a self-service business to allow customers to cancel and I’m proud of how the company came together to solve these issues. We saw calls drop by 1 million when we innovated and some of these changes will put us in a much better position when we come out of this event.” Dave believes that the more payment data they acquire, the more readily Expedia will be able to develop a better experience overall for consumers and partners. “We want to be able to ensure that the customer can transact with a payment option that they chose and that makes a big difference —and it reduces the friction that they have to go through.” Expedia Group is adopting more localized payment options that the customers in local markets feel comfortable with versus just using credit cards. Dave also noted that the business has to ensure data privacy is at the core of its strategy, otherwise they risk losing customers. “We have seen changes overnight at the beginning of lockdown, not all positive. But it’s also been fascinating to watch spending build back up. So, for sure, we are starting to see an increase in travel spending and eating out,” he said.
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