Why travel firms and insurers need to tap the online revolution

Patrick Young
Patrick Young

VP/Head of Travel Partnerships, The Americas at Cover Genius

Online retail is a tough market. Sales might be growing strongly in North America, by 15% from 2017 to 2018, according to official figures. But a significant chunk of these goes to the large incumbents: Amazon accounted for 40% of the $517bn spent online with US retailers last year, for example. Add to this an increasingly tech-savvy and demanding consumer-base and you have a major challenge: how to get them spending in your online store, and keep on coming back.

An experience-based industry

Yet it’s perhaps personalization that offers the most potential for online retailers to add value. The bad news is, consumers expectations are already sky high. Gone are the days when a simple email marketing message addressing the customer by name could impress. Today over three-quarters (76%) of consumers expect firms to understand their needs and expectations, while even more (84%) say “being treated like a person … is very important to winning their business,” according to Salesforce. But while an e-tailer’s understanding of the specific needs of a consumer will influence the loyalty of the vast majority (70%), what does this actually look like in practice?

In parallel, the share of global transactions made in cash has fallen from 89 to 77% over the past five years thanks to surging online sales, real-time payments and an evolving regulatory focus, the report claims. Mobile internet sales, including in-app and mobile browser payments, are a key factor in the growth of e-commerce thanks to rising smartphone adoption and bandwidth improvements – accounting for 48% total e-sales globally in 2017 and predicted to reach 70% by 2022. Use of digital wallets is expected to result in $400bn of transactions by 2022 as increasing numbers of consumers benefit from their flexibility, security and ultra-convenience.

A huge amount of this trade is cross-border. E-commerce sales across jurisdictions totalled $300bn in 2015 and are expected to pass $900bn by 2020, an impressive growth rate of 25%. The most successful companies in the sector are unanimously global by default.

Partnering for success

Smarter insurance offerings like this can offer a huge value-add for e-commerce providers looking to differentiate and grow. But not all insurance platforms are created equal. To offer maximum value they need not only to offer seamless, instant payments but to deliver these in the chosen currency of the user and a variety of payment methods to suit their requirements.

Making a claim can also often be one of extreme stress for the policyholder. They may have been pick-pocketed, or lost a valuable computing device. 

They may be traveling alone in a foreign country. A seamless claims experience won’t undo the damage, but it can enhance your brand – building trust and loyalty.

Continuing this theme of customer-centricity, e-commerce players should look for insurance offerings that slot neatly into their platform. 

76% of consumers today expect firms to understand their needs and expectations.

Messaging needs to be clear, concise, tailored and consistent with the rest of the experience associated with your brand, to have maximum impact on sales. It’s all about meeting consumer expectations for instantaneous solutions delivered to the palm of their hand, wherever they are, at any time. It takes just a few clicks to purchase a laptop online, but if that item is lost, stolen or broken, consumers expect to be refunded just as quickly and easily.

For those that find an insurance platform with these capabilities, the benefits are clear: market differentiation; a new revenue stream; and improved NPS scores for more loyal customers, organic referrals and higher profits.


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