«Shop easily with Alipay»

A partnership between Printemps and Wirecard makes payments easier for Chinese customers. A total of 450 million Chinese use Alipay. As of November 2016, they can also use the mobile payment solution at the French department store chain Printemps, thanks to a partnership with Wirecard. A conversation with Lionel Jouve, head of treasury & financing at Printemps, about the introduction of the new payment system and other potential developments.

What advantages does Alipay make possible?
We have nurtured a strong relationship with our Chinese customers for over 10 years. In 2006, for instance, we became the first department store in France – and probably in Europe – to accept the Chinese credit card UnionPay. For us, it’s only natural that we should adapt to our customers’ payment preferences.

How did the partnership with Wirecard come about?
An important factor in that decision was the positive development at Munich airport, where tourists have been able to pay with Alipay for some time, thanks to Wirecard.

Have your sales increased since introducing Alipay?
We don’t have any concrete figures yet. However, we know that customer satisfaction has increased. And this is an extremely important indicator for us.

How were you able to establish that?
For one thing, our Chinese customers no longer ask us if we accept Alipay. That means we have met their need for a convenient payment method. At the same time, we regularly survey the satisfaction of our Chinese customers. We have been able to establish a positive trend and this relates to the new payment possibility.

What differences have you noticed with and without Alipay?
I see it as an inevitable development: card payment was the payment method of the 20th century and mobile payment is the method of the 21st century.

But does this change anything for customers?
Of course: many Chinese people have been paying with credit card or cash up to now and they are thrilled to be able to use one of the most popular payment methods from home. It is therefore important that we speak directly to them in their language without delay – we do this by offering their favoured payment method in China. Alipay allows Chinese tourists to maintain an overview of their spending even when away on holiday. At the same time, they always have an overview of their spending.

Alipay is more than a payment solution. What does that really mean for Printemps?
I believe we can and must address customers very precisely and individually. That means providing every individual with tailored offers. After fast and secure payments, that is the second biggest advantage of the solution.

Do Chinese customers spend more with Alipay?
We have identified an increase, but we won’t know how strongly this effect is correlated with Alipay for around a year probably.

Would a solution like Alipay also be of interest to your European customers?
We wish we had a solution like Alipay for Europe. After all, payment is just one part of the overall process. With customer loyalty tools, offers and much more, we are able to open up a direct channel to the customer.

What role did Wirecard play in your success with Alipay?
The partnership was very efficient and the implementation of Alipay was seamless. The Wirecard team did excellent work. What made the partnership unique was the intense coordination between the three groups: Alipay, Wirecard and Printemps. The solution has been very well integrated into our system. The initial data shows that we made the right decision.