What retailers can learn from China’s cashless society

Mobile payments have become ubiquitous in the everyday lives of Chinese consumers, with transaction volumes reaching an astounding as £9.8 trillion pounds. Whether it’s buying jeans from their favourite store or food from a street vendor, they can pay for their everyday goods simply by scanning QR codes at point-of-sale terminals with their phones; making efficient payment processes an integral facet of their lifestyle and shopping experiences.

These platforms are now commonplace amongst China’s domestic merchants and are spreading like wildfire across the world. International retailers must prepare themselves to join the cashless revolution and embrace Chinese payment methods, otherwise they risk losing the chance to engage with millions of customers. Chinese residents made 43.8 million trips in 2008 alone - that number has since increased exponentially, reaching a whopping 156 million today. In just a decade, China has grown to become the strongest outbound market across the globe – in the UK, for instance, over 330,000 Chinese travelers injected over £1 billion pounds into the economy in 2017 alone. The European Travel Commission have also forecast a massive increase of Chinese arrivals in European destinations by 2020, for example 2.3 million and 1.6 million in France and Germany respectively.

To take advantage of this surge in international travel and capitalise on the significant spending power that Chinese consumers carry, retailers must offer payment methods consumers favour and are familiar with. Modern payment technologies allow merchants to be up and running with these new methods in a matter of weeks, helping merchants provide the best shopping experience possible and drive revenue growth that was previously unreachable.

Ready for take-off: A new airport shopping experience

With China’s travel market growing at such a rapid pace, there are no other retailers better placed to take advantage of this than airport vendors. Duty-free stores have consistently topped the list of Chinese consumers’ favourite shopping channels, and retailers are starting to take notice – almost every tourist-oriented retailer dons a duty-free sticker on its storefront. However, this resurgence has meant that airport retailers face heightened competition in the duty-free arena.

So, how can airport retailers build a purchasing experience that rivals those of competitors and attracts the rising number of Chinese tourists? The answer is facilitating purchase transactions. By providing payment methods that replicate the familiarity of Chinese shopping lifestyles – such as WeChat – and offering the same level of convenience, Chinese tourists will be encouraged to shop in new environments. Furthermore, WeChat Pay can support higher transaction values and offers improved exchange rates, eliminating common concerns and further driving Chinese customers to retailers who accept such payment methods. This, of course, will ultimately allow retailers to maximise sales conversion and increase revenues; helping them stay competitive in a growing market.

Welcoming Chinese shoppers with open arms

Making Chinese tourists feel at home while they are away is the turning point of the payments experience. Chinese buyers have unique preferences, and recognising this is critical in creating a positive shopping experience that can also help retailers capitalise on the wealth of promise presented by the thriving Chinese market. In today’s fast-paced world, however, time is of the essence. To take full advantage of rising Chinese tourism and business travel, retailers need to be free to innovate with new payments solutions, such as WeChat Pay. Retailers should feel confident in demanding more from their payments technology and start using it as a way to help meet their strategic business objectives.

This calls for a payments provider who can help retailers break free from legacy payments infrastructures and vendor lock-in, and integrate modern WeChat support to address a real business need. In doing so, retailers will be able to easily accept QR-code based payments within a matter of weeks, avoiding the need for lengthy and costly integration with existing point of sale systems. This freedom to innovate with new payments solutions not only puts airport retailers in control of their own payments strategy, but also means they can innovate quickly and stay flexible to meet consumers’ evolving demands. Rapid deployment not only helps retailers avoid missing out on potential transactions or lost revenue, but also means they can react and adapt to any changes in Chinese consumers’ shopping behaviour.

With Chinese tourism showing no signs of abating, airport retailers must adapt to the needs of this growing market. Adopting local Chinese payment methods such as WeChat Pay will allow airport retailers to meet the needs of Chinese travelers and offer a superior shopping experience, leading to greater customer satisfaction and increased revenues across the board.