Owning the Digital Consumer Experience: How Payments Drive Retail Loyalty and Sales

Understanding the correlation between how and why consumers spend is a critical component of owning the consumer retail experience. Driving that experience is the rise in mobile and digital payments that have the potential to boost loyalty and generate more sales.

By Derek Tanis

In 2020 alone, e-commerce made up roughly $1 out of every $5 spent on retail and accounted for $900 billion more spent on e-commerce channels than the year prior.1 With mobile e-commerce sales expected to reach $3.56 trillion globally by the end of 2021,2 it’s clear how and where consumers are spending more of their money: online and via mobile devices. The why in the equation comes down to how consumers align payment choices with their lifestyles.

According to a July 2021 Research and Markets report, “lifestyle commerce is a prime mover of the customer journey that includes using mobile apps and payments as a key channel for retail shopping."3 A rise in “lifestyle commerce” is driving consumers toward retail experiences that provide seamless, ubiquitous payment options that align with how, when and why customers want to pay.

The opportunity to capture a greater share of retail spend underscores the need to offer payment choices that allow consumers to complete a purchase on their terms. Ubiquity across retail payment channels is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s becoming table stakes. Below we explore the connection between payments, rewards and choice and how retailers can elevate the customer experience to capture more sales and generate brand affinity.

Creating Customer Experiences to Drive Brand Value

The surge of digital and mobile payments has dominated the retail payment market for both online and brick-and-mortar, which makes a clear case to capitalize on a trend that’s only growing in market value. Consumers want retailers to align with how they are already interacting with them, which is increasingly online — presenting key opportunities to leverage digital payments choices to own the consumer experience.

Take, for example, the Buy Online Pick Up In Store trend — a consumer shopping journey that blends the perks of mobile and brick-and-mortar. It’s estimated that 76% of shoppers in the U.S. have used Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) services.4 There’s also a connection between this trend and higher consumer spending as 75% of shoppers who used BOPIS indicated they are likely to make an additional purchase, while 49% of shoppers made unintended purchases while picking up their items in-store.5

What consumers desire today are commerce experiences that are frictionless and fit their on-the-go lifestyles. The barriers that previously existed in e-commerce are gone and have been replaced by invisible payments experiences embedded into mobile apps and e-commerce sites' checkout buttons. Consumers are open to these options more than ever, which is why retailers must ensure they are focused on a customer interactions rooted in a positive digital payment experience.

Consumers today are becoming accustomed to an “invisible” transaction process at the click of a button or tap of a fingerprint. Amazon 1-Click-Ordering and PayPal’s One Touch experiences are perfect examples of what’s driven this trend across the retail ecosystem. Positive retail connections are created by simple and quick checkouts, which is where lines are blurring across the payments and retail ecosystems. This is especially true as payments become deeper embedded into digital shopping ecosystems.

The sheer volume of consumers using digital and mobile payments in the past year speaks to this transformation. In 2020 alone, the number of U.S. consumers using their smartphone to make in-store mobile payments rose 29% and is expected to hit 101.2 million payments in 2021. By 2025, it's estimated 50% of consumers will choose this option.6

Creating engaging brand experiences that streamline how consumers buy things both online and in-store has immense power for both sales and loyalty. The embedded payments examples presented above demonstrate the perfect opportunity for how retailers can rely on digital payments to remove friction from the entire commerce journey, while delivering exactly what consumers want: to buy online on their terms.

Coupling that frictionless payment experience with an integrated, robust rewards program is where retailers can take that customer connection to the next level to encourage repeat purchase behavior. One core advantage of digital payments is the ability for retailers to seamlessly integrate rewards into the in-store or online shopping experience to make it easier and faster for customers to redeem rewards that deepen brand affinity. After all, customers want to know they are getting good value out of their transaction, and they want to control that experience.

Serving Consumers Better: The Power of Partnerships

Retailers and consumers have more opportunities to connect than ever before, through digital methods that are powered by secure, seamless experiences. Payments is the thread that ties this all together — which can be further enhanced by adding on loyalty and rewards programs. And, thanks to powerful cloud-based technology, like Netspend’s open APIs, delivering that customer-centric payment experience across any payments and commerce environment is easier than ever for everyone involved in the retail payment equation.

Consumers today have more choices than ever at their fingertips, and they are empowered with choices that fit their daily behaviors and lifestyle. The key to winning over — and owning the consumer experience — is knowing how to create retail opportunities that are seamless and ubiquitous, regardless of how and where a customer is interacting with your brand.

Delivering your customers' payments and rewards opportunities within their own retail interactions is a key component of owning the consumer experience. But retailers don’t have to achieve this goal alone. Enhanced brand value for retailers can be better achieved when you combine the power of payments, digital and rewards into one ubiquitous commerce interaction.

Retailers should focus on what they do best: being an expert in their business and serving customers in ways that align with what they value most. Mobile and digital technologies have embedded payments into the customer experience, which is where the power of partnerships matters for everyone. Relying on a payments expert to manage your embedded payments across your retail ecosystems allows you to focus on what’s most important: creating positive brand experiences with customers that can boost loyalty and generate more sales.


About the Author: Derek Tanis is the Senior Vice President leading Netspend’s Consumer Partnerships team, where he is responsible for a wide variety of strategic partnerships including PayPal, Western Union, ACE, Samsung, 7-11, HEB, and Albertsons as well as all of the brick and mortar distribution partnerships across the country.  The team manages retail distribution in over 70,000 retail stores including, CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, 7-11 and Kroger as well as over 10,000 check cashing and Alternative financial service providers including ACE, Advance America, CheckNGo, CLA, CFS and Moneytree.  Tanis began his career at Netspend in 2009 in the Product Development team where he spearheaded the launch of several new card programs and features.  Later, he joined Netspend’s Retail Channel where he oversaw retail operations and managed a variety of key relationships including PayPal, HEB, 7-Eleven, CVS, Walgreens and Safeway before leading the Partner Channel before consolidation with the Retail Channel.

Tanis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder.


1. Mastercard, Recovery Insights: Commerce Evolution, April 2021, https://www.mastercardservices.com/en/recovery-insights/commerce-e-volution

2. Mastercard, Recovery Insights: Commerce Evolution, April 2021, https://www.mastercardservices.com/en/recovery-insights/commerce-e-volution

3. US Mobile Payments Market Report 2021 - Lifestyle Commerce Sets the Pace for Retail Sales Growth, July 2021, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-mobile-payments-market-report-2021---lifestyle-commerce-sets-the-pace-for-retail-sales-growth-301332514.html

4. Invesp, Buy Online Pick Up In Store – Statistics and Trends, June 2021, https://www.invespcro.com/blog/buy-online-pick-up-in-store-bopis/

5. Invesp, Buy Online Pick Up In Store – Statistics and Trends, June 2021, https://www.invespcro.com/blog/buy-online-pick-up-in-store-bopis/

6. eMarketer, US Mobile Proximity Users, March 2021, https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-payment-users-will-surpass-100-million-this-year