As consumer habits and the payment ecosystem have both changed dramatically during the pandemic, companies and merchants have had to adapt in the way they embrace a fresh approach to the user experience. 

At this week’s FinTech Connect, a panel of experts sought to gain a deeper understanding of what the payment space will look like as we emerge from COVID, with Jasper Fortuijn, Ikea, Lead Product Owner Digital Payments, revealing that the biggest shift has seen consumers immerse themselves deeper in an online experience. 

“The biggest change for Ikea retail was the shift from in-store to online, in the past year, we have seen a surge in online sales and if you look back at last Summer, when things returned to some form of normal, we didn’t see a shift back to pre-pandemic consumer habits, so we expect these changes to last and really grow, increasing in the coming years.

“Also, in terms of customer behaviour, in stores, we have also seen a significant change with customers using contactless at an increasing rate, especially when it comes to mobile phones.”

In terms of the challenges the change represented, he added that this was ‘a large change logistically’, as he detailed the firm was forced to take a closer look at the way it approaches in-store and ecommerce – continuing to embrace alternative payment methods. 

Skyscanner’s Senior Product Manager, Martin Parry gave their perspective as he stated that because they were a ecommerce business even prior to the pandemic, the most significant impact that was felt by them came in the form of a new embracing of the digital journey by consumers. 

‘What was once considered an unhappy path, was not considered the de-fact norm’, stated Parry, as he underlined just how widespread the turbulence was in the travel industry. 

Terms and conditions and risks that consumers were taking when booking online had to be magnified, Parry noted, as consumer hesitancy grew during a period of instability for the travel industry. 

Moderator Daniel Lowther, the CCgroup’s Head of FinTech then pointed out that this meant the website was thrust to the forefront for many businesses as the head of operations for firms – with Parry agreeing that the site took a ‘significant pivot’ to become something of an information hub. 

Providing insight into the retail sector, Andrew Murphy, John Lewis Partnership Executive Director, Operations, described COVID as having ‘a seismic effect on channel shifts,’ however he added that the pandemic changed very little, it instead accelerated trends that were already being embarked upon. 

He later mapped out the decline of cash is something he believes has become habitual, predicting that in the coming years there may well be social pressure on retailers to utilise cash.