As part of the latest Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the merchant payment provider market, we spoke with 23 customer references (i.e., merchants like retailers and brands) about their experiences with their current payment provider. The references included customers from eight of the participating vendors evaluated in our Wave, and the interviewees varied across roles and departments at their respective organizations.

We discovered two key themes when it comes to what customers look for in vendor selection:

  1. Some prioritize cost-effective, risk-mitigating solutions … Many customers we spoke with ultimately chose their payment provider based on classic payment provider selection criteria: cost effectiveness, geographic reach, or security and compliance. Some customers simply chose not to pursue other providers because of their long-standing relationships with their current vendor.
  1. … while others seek easy-to-use products and solutions. As newer payment providers grow in popularity and established players launch new and improved architectures and products, merchants’ expectations are rising. Many customers we spoke with, especially those who have selected their payment providers within the past five years, made their decisions based on criteria like well-designed developer tools or the promise of strong support and strategic advice from account teams.

In terms of what they seek from their merchant payment provider relationship, we found similar themes and priorities emerge from the customer references, including:

  • Collaboration and partnership with account teams. Account management was by far the most discussed topic during our customer reference conversations. Merchants want to feel like they are the vendor’s number one priority, with a dedicated account team equipped with ample resources that will approach them with new ideas and proactive advice. However, based on our conversations with customers, many believe their vendors still operate under the assumption that it’s the customer’s job to generate ideas while the vendors work on execution.
  • Alignment on self-service and full-service capabilities. Some merchants want self-service tools to self-diagnose and optimize their payments operations independently of their vendor’s customer success services. However, sometimes they want to selectively outsource payment optimization and innovation to the vendor in a full-service capacity. When both vendor and merchant were aligned on their offerings and expectations here, merchants were more satisfied with their vendor selection.
  • An intuitive platform. Payment responsibilities fall under different departments at each merchant, and there won’t always be a developer team on demand and ready to navigate the payment solution for deployments or ongoing changes. Simply put, merchants want a platform that is easy and straightforward to implement and operate.

To learn more about our findings from the merchant payment provider customer references, read the full report here and be sure to also check out the Forrester Wave on the market. For an even deeper understanding of the merchant payment provide space and what current customers of the leading vendors are saying, schedule an inquiry, and register for our webinar on Wednesday, June 29 at 11 a.m. EST or catch the playback recording on Forrester’s website.