The fashion world is notoriously fast-paced, and high street retailer River Island, founded in 1948, was facing competition from a host of new online retailers. With the payments landscape constantly changing, retailers need to keep pace with customer preferences and ensure that their payment systems are providing the best customer experience possible. However, River Island was reliant on increasingly cumbersome legacy architecture and needed to modernise its payment platform to boost its authorisation rates, increase flexibility, and accommodate its evolving business model.
The retailer’s fragmented payment system was difficult to update because the online and in-store payment experiences were not unified, so updates needed to be made across different systems with different behaviours – a costly endeavour. In order to offer a better customer experience and reduce costs, River Island wanted to create a unified payment solution for its checkouts, across its stores and online, and reimagine its in-store shopping experience in the process.
“For us, there is no such thing as an online or an offline customer. There are only customers who shop how they want to shop,” says Adam Warne, chief information officer, River Island. “It's about trying to create the best experience and blur the lines between those two worlds.”
When River Island set out to overhaul its payments system, it enlisted the help of Cabiri, an IT consultancy with extensive experience of collaborating with top brands in the UK and Europe. Together, the teams identified Stripe as the payments provider that could bring River Island’s vision to life. "
“One of the key reasons for choosing Stripe as a partner was the enhanced level of support it offered during the project delivery phase,” says Rex Bigger, CEO, Cabiri. “Stripe provided personalised one-to-one support, addressing any questions or concerns that arose and ensuring that the project stayed on track based on key milestones.”
River Island and Cabiri worked closely to implement several Stripe products that would replace River Island’s existing fragmented system.
For online payments, River Island used Stripe Payments and Stripe Elements. To help increase authorisation rates, the retailer uses Stripe Adaptive Acceptance, which identifies the best retry messaging and routing combinations to save lost revenue for all card payments after false declines.
River Island used Stripe’s optimised checkout suite, including the Payment Element, which displays the most relevant payment methods from around the globe through a secure, embeddable UI component. River Island was able to quickly add three payment methods in 2023, including Apple Pay and Google Pay for all countries in which River Island has dedicated domains, and Klarna for its Ireland stores. To help drive conversion, River Island uses the Payment Request Button to dynamically display wallet options for Apple Pay and Google Pay during checkout, so that customers can see these options if they have enabled them on their device.
River Island used these components of Stripe’s optimised checkout suite to elevate its customer experience with customers’ desired payment options and offer a fast, easy checkout process that increases conversion and revenue. Recognising the potential to even further reduce friction and convert more customers, the business also plans to add Link, which will enable customers to save and auto-fill their payment and shipping details for accelerated checkout capability.
For its in-store kiosks, River Island adopted Stripe Terminal card readers, enabling the business to manage all of its online and offline sales in one place with a single Stripe integration, providing a unified customer view.
In select locations, River Island installed smart fitting rooms with screens that instantly display the clothes a shopper has chosen, recognised with embedded RFID tags. Using the screen, customers can request different sizes from a sales associate and browse suggestions for other items. When the customer is ready to check out, there’s no need to wait in line. They can simply leave the fitting room, go to a self-checkout kiosk, and pay using a Stripe Terminal card reader. The kiosks currently use BBPOS WisePOS E countertop readers for payment, which connect to the Stripe Terminal SDK over the internet. If the customer has any queries, there’s a River Island employee on hand nearby to help them.
“We focused on developing a solution that prioritised a like-for-like customer experience,” Bigger says. “By carefully aligning the technology changes with River Island's existing user journey, we ensured that Stripe was seamlessly integrated into the company’s checkout process.”
With Stripe and Cabiri, River Island replaced its unwieldy legacy payments stack with the modern, sophisticated solution it needed to offer a better customer experience and conduct business efficiently across channels. Stripe now processes all self-service checkouts in River Island stores, as well as 100% of the retailer’s online sales. This integration gives River Island a unified view of its customers and revenue flows.
Authorisation rates rise by 3%
Soon after implementation, River Island saw an increase in authorisation rates. Several Stripe solutions helped River Island achieve this result, including Adaptive Acceptance and the Payment Element. Adding new payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay can also lead to higher authorisation rates compared to online card forms.
The Payment Element allowed River Island to implement these changes quickly, adding each payment method three times faster in just one sprint, rather than implementing each one over a period of one to two months.
The business has also seen a 2% increase in customers moving from the review and pay step to the transaction step of the checkout process, which has had a positive impact on the business’s overall conversion rate. Now that more customers are completing checkout and more submitted payments are being approved, River Island anticipates a boost in revenue.
“Over the first 12 months of our partnership with Stripe, we will capture millions more value in sales than we previously would have,” says Emily Haddrell, digital product lead, River Island.
Creating a more personalised shopping experience
The initial trials of River Island’s first self-checkout kiosk have been a success, with 40% of the store’s customers using it. And it’s approximately 30% faster than visiting a traditional manned till. This has boosted conversion rates by 1% in this store, and as River Island continues to roll out the kiosks, the business expects to see improved conversion rates in stores throughout the country.
Over the first 12 months of our partnership with Stripe, we will capture millions more value in sales than we previously would have.
Cabiri is a boutique commerce consultancy that specialises in headless, serverless e-commerce solutions. With extensive experience in retail, luxury, and entertainment sectors, the company collaborates closely with businesses and developers to deliver omnichannel digital commerce solutions.
The partnership with Stripe not only allowed Cabiri to benefit from its payment processing capabilities, but also ensured that they received dedicated support and guidance throughout the River Island project.