Across the globe, the retail landscape has seen profound changes over the past two years. Businesses have had to adapt their customer experience and innovate as consumers have shifted online to buy many—if not most—of the things they need and want.
The retail industry outlook promises more changes within the months and years ahead. While many brick-and-mortar stores have reopened since the beginning of the pandemic, the internet remains central to many people’s lives for work, education, shopping, and beyond. These trends require retailers to deliver unified and seamless shopping experiences across their various sales channels in order to align with consumer trends.
How can you meet your customers’ growing expectations for fast, satisfying, and integrated ecommerce experiences? How can you ensure that your ecommerce operations maximize revenue without straining technical and logistical resources? What are ways you can use payments to expand globally and reach new customers?
This retail industry trends report on the Americas addresses these questions and more by covering key retail trends, offering guidance, and sharing stories across a wide range of companies, including Ford and Bodum, about how they have adapted and thrived in a changing retail landscape.
Whether you’re seeking inspiration, guidance, new statistics, or stories of nimble retailers, you’ll find what you need here to adapt at scale.
—Jeanne DeWitt Grosser, Stripe Global Head of Partnerships, Americas
Jeanne is responsible for accelerating Stripe’s growth in the Americas. Prior to joining Stripe, Jeanne was the CRO at Dialpad and spent over seven years at Google.
Key 2023 trends in online retail in the Americas
- The historic surge in ecommerce is here to stay.
- Retailers still have a lot of work to do to improve their online checkouts.
- Consumers want more payment options at online checkout, including financing.
- Retailers must redouble efforts to fight online fraud.
- Smart retailers are using payments to guide strategy and streamline the back office.
Guides for growth
The entire retail economy has undergone a major consumer behavior and digital transformation since March 2020. Despite many physical stores reopening, ecommerce spending has continued to grow even after the historic surge surrounding the global pandemic. More than 40% of North American customers said they at least doubled their online shopping in 2021, according to Stripe research.
Latin America has historically trailed other regions in ecommerce, but the pandemic has fueled rapid adoption, and this will have major implications for retailers based in the region and those considering selling in the market. Statista estimates that retail ecommerce sales in the region will nearly double by 2025, to total $160 billion.
Selling online and doing so effectively and profitably are not the same thing; however, a recent McKinsey & Company report found that companies that saw strong ecommerce growth did not necessarily see commensurate revenue growth. Companies that saw the most rapid increase in ecommerce since 2016 experienced less overall revenue growth than those that had more modest ecommerce growth. As the retail trends report states: “Digital growth is not enough; only profitable digital growth will create value.”
The following guides and resources provide tips to optimize your ecommerce operations in order to create value for your business and your customers.
The state of online checkouts in North America
One might think that by now most major retailers would have perfected the checkout process, one of the most important aspects of converting sales online. After all, close to 20% of consumers say they would abandon a purchase if it took more than one minute to check out, according to our report, The state of North American checkouts in 2021.
In fact, our retail market analysis of leading North American ecommerce retailers found that nearly every one—96%—had at least five basic errors in their checkout. These shortcomings were found in every aspect of the checkout process we examined: form design, mobile optimization, localization, and buyer trust and security.
- 51% of top businesses did not support address auto-complete
- 77% did not allow customers to save their payment information for future use
- 18% of checkouts did not allow customers to check out as a guest
“The highest performing checkouts are made up of dozens of small optimizations executed seamlessly.” —The state of North American checkouts in 2021
Solutions, advice, and resources for optimizing checkout
To learn more about common checkout blindspots and how to avoid them, read the full report.
In our recent webinar, “Ask the experts: Stripe’s checkout best practices,” we cover the key techniques for optimizing conversion in checkout.
Stripe Checkout has been obsessively engineered down to the most minute details to ensure an intuitive and fast checkout experience. You can employ our hosted checkout page, or you can use Stripe Elements to integrate these capabilities into your own checkout flow.
Meeting demand for new payment methods
Digital transformation is not just changing the way customers shop, but also how they pay for and finance purchases. Retail trends in 2023 show shoppers are gravitating toward new payment methods, and two stand out for their rapid adoption in recent years: mobile wallets and installment financing, commonly known as buy now, pay later (BNPL).
In North America, mobile wallet transactions, primarily via Apple Pay and Google Pay, topped $600 billion in 2021, according to Statista, and mobile wallet purchasing volume is projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2025.
Many customers have also embraced BNPL, which allows users to break up payments for purchases over several months. The payments are typically interest-free if they are made on time. The payment method, which is especially popular with millennials, is expected to make up nearly $1 trillion in global ecommerce spending by 2026.
Solutions, advice, and resources to expand payment methods
To learn more about the types of payment methods gaining traction beyond credit and debit cards, read Stripe’s guide, Introduction to online payments.
Taking a smarter approach to fraud
Retail industry analysis shows customers have been shopping online much more frequently over the past two years. This shift has had an unfortunate side effect, however: an increase in fraudulent activity. It’s estimated that ecommerce fraud increased 14% in 2021 from the previous year to total $20 billion globally.
There are two main ways that fraud drives losses in ecommerce. There are the losses that result from failing to prevent fraud, and there are those that come from false declines—unintentionally blocking legitimate transactions due to unsophisticated fraud detection.
One of the more promising applications of machine learning technology is improving fraud detection. By leveraging hundreds of billions of data points, algorithms can evaluate every transaction for fraud risk and take appropriate action. Deployed effectively, machine learning can adapt to suspicious patterns in real time, unlike systems that depend on static rules to flag problematic transactions.
“Historically, businesses have used brute-force rules to predict and block suspected fraudulent charges. Machine learning, on the other hand, can detect more nuanced patterns to help you maximize revenue.” —A primer on machine learning for fraud detection
Solutions, advice, and resources to improve fraud detection
Precision fraud risk detection is at the heart of Stripe Radar, our integrated fraud solution. Radar uses adaptive machine learning, as well as close relationships with card networks and banks and a massive global database of users, to protect your business and conversion rate.
Using payments for growth
In our constantly changing global economy, companies have learned the importance of adapting and responding to changing customer habits and dynamic market conditions. Leading retailers not only consider payments a commodity but also an essential resource that can help them adapt and grow.
Having an agile payment system allows you to innovate and develop new business models, such as subscription, direct-to-consumer (DTC), and peer-to-peer (P2P). This has allowed major brands that once sold strictly through third-party outlets and marketplaces to develop stronger ties to their customers and gain market insights.
Having agile and flexible payment capabilities can lead to new geographic markets. You can gauge demand and accept payments in other countries, without having to invest substantial sums in setting up local offices or clearing compliance and technical hurdles.
Succeeding in global expansion requires payment capabilities that can dynamically adapt to local payment methods and preferences. While credit cards are the predominant online payment method in the US and Canada, 40% of consumers elsewhere prefer other options. For example, bank transfers are the most popular payment method in Germany, and almost one-third of Italian customers prefer to pay with digital wallets.
Forward-thinking companies use payments to gain complete and integrated views of their customer needs and revenues across various online and physical channels.
Solutions, advice, and resources for growth
Learn how to offer integrated omnichannel customer experiences in this Stripe webinar, “Unify online and in-person payments.”
Stripe has developed several solutions to help companies make their financial operations more efficient and integrated and to yield greater data visibility. Stripe Tax allows companies to automatically calculate and collect sales tax, VAT, and GST in all US states and in more than 35 countries. Stripe Revenue Recognition enables companies to gain real-time visibility and control over accounting operations and to generate reports for auditing, compliance, and forecasting purposes.
Retailers know their success depends on customer retention and customer engagement. This demands creating frictionless ecommerce experiences. Many of them are leading the way in developing new and better ecommerce experiences. Here are some of their perspectives on meeting and exceeding customer expectations in an increasingly digital marketplace.
Ford drives new models for reaching customers
There may be no more iconic and historic American brand than Ford. One reason for the automaker’s longevity is its ability to continually adapt to customers’ changing preferences. This extends to how consumers want to shop for cars today: online, with the ability to customize many aspects of the order, from financing to features.
In 2022, Stripe began a five-year partnership with Ford that will help the automaker go direct-to-consumer. Car buyers will be able to reserve, customize, and make down payments on new vehicles on Ford.com and pick them up at their local dealerships. By making Stripe a key part of its tech stack, Ford aims to provide a seamless ecommerce experience for customers, as well as an improved payment acceptance experience for dealers.
“We have been working with Stripe to reimagine our ecommerce payment infrastructure. Stripe’s platform will help us deliver simpler, outstanding payment experiences in any channel customers choose and scale improvements faster,” said Ford Motor Credit Company CEO Marion Harris.
Learn more about how Stripe is helping Ford transform how customers shop for vehicles.
As part of the Ford+ plan for growth and value creation, we are making strategic decisions about where to bring in providers with robust expertise and where to build the differentiated, always-on experiences our customers will value. Stripe has developed strong expertise in user experiences that will help provide easy, intuitive, and secure payment processes for our customers.”
How Dermalogica applied a tailored approach to cut fraud rates by half
Dermalogica has been a leader in professional skincare products for more than 30 years. As Dermalogica’s reputation among skincare professionals has grown, it has expanded to 80 countries worldwide and developed a loyal base of in-home users.
Cosmetic brands are often targets for fraudulent charges due to the high potential resale value of their products. In approaching this challenge, Dermalogica had to balance the need to block fraudulent transactions without alienating its professional buyers. The latter have high lifetime value and rely on their purchases to sustain their businesses, so false positives risk alienating these loyal customers.
Dermalogica deployed Radar for Fraud Teams, allowing the company to use the adaptive machine learning built into Radar while calibrating it for its specific customer base and priorities. By using whitelisting and rules, the company was able to ensure professional customers had a seamless ordering experience while providing extra protection for higher risk orders.
In Dermalogica’s first six months of using Radar, the company saw fraud rates reduced by half, to levels well below those of typical ecommerce companies.
Radar has given us the flexibility we need to customize our fraud management approach for different customer segments, while still relying on an always-on system to do the heavy lifting.”
How Lightspeed supports enterprise-scale ecommerce for thousands of businesses
Lightspeed is a large-scale commerce platform that supports thousands of companies, from small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to major retailers like Nordstrom.
Lightspeed wanted to expand its platform with an enhanced omnichannel payments experience that could easily scale globally. The company needed a reliable, enterprise-grade payments solution that could power omnichannel payments, provide a unified customer view, and streamline payouts for its customers.
Partnering with Stripe, the company developed Lightspeed Payments, which enables businesses to offer unified online and in-person payments on a global scale, through integrations with Stripe Payments, Connect, and Terminal. The company is also using Stripe Capital to give retailers access to cash flow with fewer barriers than traditional financial institutions.
In just three months, Lightspeed was able to go live with a plug-and-play solution for accepting payments in person and online. By integrating with Stripe Terminal, Lightspeed is able to easily offer capabilities such as contactless payments, curbside pickup, and faster checkouts with responsive readers. Leveraging Stripe Connect, Lightspeed is able to support unified merchant onboarding, reconciliation, and reporting across online and in-person payments.
Stripe offers an enterprise-grade infrastructure that puts our customers on the cutting edge of modern payments technology. The combination of Terminal and Connect is a powerful integrated solution in the market for ambitious platforms to facilitate payments for their merchants.”
How Bodum expanded globally by leveraging local payment methods
Bodum is a kitchenware manufacturer specializing in high-quality coffee and tea products and equipment, with a focus on functional design, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. The third-generation family enterprise, founded in 1944, has a motto of “make taste, not waste.”
Bodum saw a boost in ecommerce sales when the pandemic started, as people around the world were eager to make their own high-quality coffee at home. Bodum recognized the checkout process was often frustrating for customers, especially if their preferred payment method wasn’t available. In addition, Bodum wanted to build a seamless online customer experience for both desktop and mobile, since most of its customers were ordering via mobile.
Bodum partnered with Stripe to build its own customized checkout experience while taking advantage of prebuilt conversion optimizations through Stripe Elements. The solution also enabled Bodum to easily turn on local payment methods in addition to traditional credit cards without extra integration time.
“Other payment processing platforms have been slow to update their systems and interfaces, but Stripe has given us a huge advantage in easing our burdens and payment issues,” said Peter Bodum, ecommerce manager.
Bodum was able to localize its checkout experience to scale its online business to 23 countries across Europe, America, Australia, and Asia. Implementing Stripe Elements took less than a month initially, and Bodum can now turn on any new payment methods that become available, directly from the Dashboard with no additional engineering required.
Mobile checkout is the future, but the distraction rate is very high. If a customer is buying something through a mobile site and they get another notification, the risk of losing that purchase is high. Local payment methods are really important to help customers complete their purchase as quickly as possible.”
Ben & Frank on optimizing conversion in Latin America
Ben & Frank could be considered the Warby Parker of Latin America. The Mexico-based company is the most popular direct-to-consumer eyewear brand in the region.
The ecommerce ecosystem in Latin America is complex and fragmented, and fraud rates are comparatively high. Ben & Frank had struggled with its conversion rates and faced challenges developing an effective approach to suspicious charges and dispute management.
By choosing Stripe as its new payment processor, Ben & Frank was able to use Stripe’s machine-learning fraud tools and relationships with major issuers to greatly improve conversion. The company saw a 10% uplift in authorization rates in Mexico just three months after switching from its previous processor. The partnership allowed Ben & Frank to improve on three essential metrics: acceptance rate, fraud rate, and how users rated their interactions with customer service.
By leveraging Stripe’s machine learning and custom fraud rules, we’ve seen a decrease in our fraud rates and chargeback rates. We’ve even found our customer satisfaction has improved because our team settles customer disputes faster now that they spend less time managing a manual process.”
World History Encyclopedia learns how to increase conversion and global reach
World History Encyclopedia publishes one of the world’s most-read history encyclopedias. The nonprofit organization has a wider mission to engage people with cultural heritage and improve history education worldwide.
World History Encyclopedia sought to expand the global reach of its encyclopedias by translating them into as many languages as possible. As part of this objective, it wanted to create a checkout page that supported subscriptions in local currencies and the relevant payment methods for each country.
By partnering with Stripe, World History Encyclopedia was able to accept recurring donations from its readers worldwide with Stripe Checkout, and Stripe Billing made it easy to integrate with the website’s custom CMS. In just two days, the nonprofit was able to implement a complete payments page that supports 10 currencies and 3 languages. Through Stripe Climate, the organization donated a percentage of its profits to fight climate change, and this also gave users another incentive to sign up.
Before fully rolling out Stripe Checkout, World History Encyclopedia set up an A/B test to track changes in conversion against its current payments provider over the course of a month. With Stripe Checkout, it saw a 5% increase in funnel conversion.
It took about a day to get Checkout up and running and then maybe another day to polish it properly. Within two working days we had a fully integrated global payment page.”
Conclusion: 2023 US retail industry analysis
Retail trends across the United States, Mexico, Brazil, and more show the current economic and technological environment requires retailers to prioritize innovation and adaptability. In the past, consumers shopped online only occasionally and for certain types of products; today, the internet touches almost all aspects of their shopping experiences.
Here’s how Stripe’s unified commerce platform can enable your company to offer seamless and integrated ecommerce experiences and give it the agility and flexibility necessary to explore new opportunities.
Capture more revenue with smarter payments.
Stripe’s payments platform offers a customer experience that evolves with changing customer preferences. An IDC study shows that, on average, businesses using Stripe attribute a 6.7% increase in revenue to the Stripe platform. Increase conversion with built-in features like automated retries, synchronous card updates, and smart network messaging.
Fight fraud with intelligent technology.
Our integrated fraud tool, Stripe Radar, ingests data from every layer of the financial stack, including banks, credit card companies, and payment flows, to assess fraud risk globally.
Refine operations for cost savings.
Stripe has an industry-leading uptime of 99.999%. Our infrastructure and documentation save you critical engineering time, so your developers can focus on urgent projects. Stripe’s integrated solution helps you minimize overhead costs and close your books quickly and accurately.
Future-proof your company in a time of changing market conditions and regulations.
Because Stripe offers easy-to-use APIs and a flexible infrastructure, you can evolve your business model and build payments flows for new markets seamlessly. Stripe is certified to the highest compliance standards. Plus, we release hundreds of features and improvements each year to help you stay ahead of customer expectations and new regulations.
Expand by going local.
Stripe’s global payments and treasury network empower retailers to rapidly optimize performance in new and existing markets with a single integration. Instantly support dozens of popular local payment methods (and 135+ currencies) to build trust with customers.
Fuel growth with new business models.
Stripe helps companies expand their businesses and create new revenue streams. Our suite of solutions, such as Stripe Connect and Stripe Billing, enables companies to grow stand-alone ecommerce sites into marketplaces or to bundle offerings into monthly subscriptions.