New SCA requirements rank low on UK merchants’ list of worries

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Retailers say the coming enforcement of the sweeping online payments regulation – SCA – is the least of their post-pandemic worries, a stance that exposes a stark disconnect with the shoppers they plan to serve as the UK emerges from more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions.

When asked to list their top post-pandemic concern, only 12.8% of retail professionals surveyed by Upwave on behalf of commerce protection provider Signifyd named SCA (strong customer authentication).

The European Economic Area regulation requires consumers to complete a robust, two-step identification process to make many online purchases.

That’s a marked contrast to consumers’ take on the regulation, which will be enforced in the UK starting in September. More than 46% of consumers said in a companion poll that they were somewhat or very likely to give up on an order that involved the kind of two-factor authentication required by SCA.

Ranking above SCA on UK retailers’ worry list were the lingering effects of COVID-19, the fallout from Brexit and the financial health of their businesses, according to the survey of 250 decision-makers at retail enterprises across the region.

“Given the unprecedented flurry of challenges that brands and retailers have faced in the last year-plus, it’s likely that SCA and all it involves has appeared more theoretical and less urgent than the disruptions merchants were facing in real-time,” says Ed Whitehead, Managing Director EMEA, Signifyd.

“But SCA enforcement is imminent and merchants selling online are going to want to be ready to maintain a seamless checkout experience. This is a completely manageable challenge, but it requires action.”

For the past 14 months, brands and retailers have been battling very immediate and tangible challenges — lockdowns and forced closures, supply chain disruptions, a dramatic shift from in-store to online shopping, new fulfilment and customs complications with Brexit and the literal existential threat that accompanied the collapse of brick-and-mortar shopping.

The retail survey was published as part of Signifyd’s data-rich report, State of UK Commerce Report 2021: Redefining Experiences for a New Wave of Customers. The report recounts the ecommerce boom of 2020 and examines the future of a retail digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic. Among the report’s findings:

  • Despite the pressures of the last year, retailers are optimistic — the plurality, 26.4%, said their sales would grow between 21% and 30% this year. More than half said they expected sales to be up between 21% and 40%.
  • UK merchants are ready to spend to fuel their digital transformation. Significant numbers of respondents said for the post-pandemic era they’re investing more in advertising technology (40%), ecommerce platforms (33.8%), payment platforms (33.2%), customer support platforms (28%), and order review and fraud protection platforms (25.2%).
  • UK retailers are doubling down on changes they made during the pandemic with 30% expanding ecommerce this year, 66.8% expanding click-and-collect in some form, 22% boosting fraud protection and 18.8% using video calls with customers more.
  • Nearly 83% of consumer respondents intend to shop differently in the post-COVID world. About 48% will continue to use click-and-collect more often and 56.6% expect to keep doing more of their shopping online.

Beyond the survey findings, the State of UK Commerce Report 2021 relies on Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data to examine how the pandemic fuelled a shift to online spending that pushed ecommerce to a third of retail sales.

“I think the non-traditional takeover of traditional retail will not only continue but also accelerate,” Ollie Marshall, managing director of electronics retailer Maplin, said in the report. “Online retailers are no longer a minor competition to traditional retailers – now.”

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