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Despite ongoing disruptions, 2020 has proven the ultimate accelerator of retail trends both in-store and online. Continued changes in consumer behavior coupled with investments in technology are said to have pushed retail several years forward, though as consumers grow more comfortable some trends have proven more solid than others.

For retailers who continue to gain consumer loyalty and trust, it has meant embracing a seamless, often contactless, experience at every touchpoint.

Put simply Greg Lisiewski, vice president of global Pay Later products at PayPal, says as attitudes continue to shift, they are choosing those merchants who make things easier for them. “They want easy returns, no lines, and the ability to get help when and indeed if they need it. Retailers who empower their customers to have a sense of control over their experience are winning.”

Here, Lisiewski talks to WWD about the evolution of consumer behaviors in a pandemic, PayPal’s continued innovation in payment methods, and which new e-commerce trends have staying power.

WWD: In your own words, why have flexible payment options become vital for retailers to reach consumers? 

Greg Lisiewski: Even before the pandemic, consumers were already starting to blur the lines between in-store and online purchase behavior. But the pandemic has accelerated that behavior in a major way. And with that behavior comes a demand for more flexible payment options. Consumers are demanding choice and flexibility in all of their purchase interactions, whether that’s at the grocery store, how they dine, and especially how they purchase things like fashion, accessories, and health and beauty products.

PayPal offers full wallet capabilities including multiple Pay Later solutions. For example, our newest product, Pay in 4, allows consumers to split their purchases across four equal payments. PayPal Credit provides a credit line that can be used anywhere PayPal is accepted while offering six months of no interest for purchases over $99.

Greg Lisiewski

Greg Lisiewski, vice president of global Pay Later products at PayPal. 

WWD: Are consumers more likely to shop with retailers that offer these trusted payment options?

G.L.: According to the April 2020 State of Alternative Payments Acceptance in U.S. Retail Report, from Forrester Research, more than 40 percent of online consumers who are aware of installment payments are currently using them to purchase goods. This might seem obvious due to the flexibility that pay later solutions provide but it is clear that consumers are looking for these options and it is influencing their purchasing decisions.

WWD: How has PayPal continued to innovate in the space? 

G.L.: PayPal is the originator of the Pay Later industry — from when it acquired Bill Me Later in 2008. Following the acquisition, PayPal has evolved Bill Me Later into PayPal Credit, allowing consumers to apply for a credit line that can be used anywhere PayPal is accepted. Additionally, through our partnership with Synchrony, we’re able to offer six months of no interest on purchases of $99 or more.

Most recently we’ve begun offering additional Pay Later products globally. We’ve unveiled these products in the U.S., U.K. and France — providing flexible payment options to consumers in these markets at no cost to the merchant. Providing flexible payment options that come with no risk and no cost to our merchants means we can help our merchants grow their business. We win when our merchants win.

WWD: From your perspective, are these consumer behaviors toward more payment options likely to continue? 

G.L.: Absolutely. COVID-19 has really accelerated consumer behaviors when it comes to online shopping. For example, curbside pickup from stores, including grocery and non-grocery locations, increased 17 percentage points over that time period, from 19 percent to 36 percent. Once the pandemic is over, shoppers are going to continue to demand online convenience even in their bricks-and-mortar retail experiences, so retailers need to invest in true omnichannel experiences — curbside pickup, [BOPIS}, etc. — but also provide flexible payment options that allow consumers to control how they manage their finances.

WWD: From your perspective in the market, what will be a notable trend or issue facing the retail industry in 2021? 

G.L.: I think we’ll continue to see the growth of pay later solutions as well as omnichannel solutions. Whether that’s installment-based or pay after delivery, or experiences where a customer uses their online wallet at a physical point of sale to pay however they prefer — these types of trends are not going to vanish overnight. Consumers have experienced the convenience of the innovative solutions developed during COVID-19 and they are unlikely to give them up.

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