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Reimagining the role of payments at Conforama

James Hayward
Content Marketing Lead

Imagine you're shopping for a new sofa online. You find the perfect one, add it to your cart, and proceed to checkout. But then you realize that the payment options are limited, the checkout process is slow and cumbersome, and you're unsure if your payment is secure.

You abandon your purchase and look for another retailer.

This is a scenario that Conforama, one of Europe's leading home furnishings retailers, wants to avoid at all costs. Conforama knows that payments are not just a way to collect money from customers but a crucial part of the brand experience that can make or break a sale, influence customer loyalty, and impact the bottom line.

That's why Conforama hired Lucas Quinio, its first dedicated payment leader, in August 2022. Lucas is responsible for shaping and executing its payment strategy. He oversees all aspects of payments, from selecting the best payment partners and solutions to optimizing the payment performance and customer experience to ensuring compliance and security.

We catch up with Lucas as he prepares to go live with Primer to learn more about the company's journey, how he plans to make payments a strategic asset for Conforama, and how Primer's Unified Payments Infrastructure will make those plans a reality.

James Hayward, Content Lead, Primer: Lucas, you joined Conforama in August 2022 as its first dedicated payment leader. Why did the company decide to hire someone who is exclusively focused on payments?

Lucas Quinio, Head of Payments, Conforama: It's a great question. I was pretty curious myself.

The straightforward answer is that accepting payments at Conforama has become infinitely more complex.

Ten years ago, Conforama only accepted cash, cards, and the odd cheque at the store. It wasn't complicated and was easily managed by the IT team or an external provider.

Now, we sell through three channels: in-store, online, and on our marketplace. We have to comply with new rules and regulations, such as PSD2. We work with several payment service providers (PSPs) and offer different payment options to suit our customers. And we face new and evolving types of payment fraud.

It's a totally different ecosystem. Conforama's leadership recognized that it needed an individual who could handle all these requirements, connect the dots, and champion payments across the organization.

Conforama is obviously not unique in setting up a dedicated payments team. But what makes it such an exciting place to be is that the leadership wants to go further. They've evolved from seeing payments as a problem to solve to a strategic asset supporting the business's goals and future growth as more of its sales go online. That's why payments are now at the heart of everything happening across the business.

James: Tell us about your first year and a half at the company. What have you worked on?

Lucas: I started with firefighting, actually. The company had been hit with a significant fraud attack, and immediate issues needed addressing.

Once these issues were solved, it was all about talking to people, learning about their interactions with payments, and educating them about how payments can help them achieve their objectives.

This is what I love about payments. They affect every part of the business, from marketing to customer support and finance to logistics. Educating these teams on the power of payments often leads to new ideas and opportunities that inspire them to think outside the box.

While having these discussions across the business, I was also shaping the payment strategy, which centers around three pillars:

  1. Commercial: Ensure that payments align with, enable, and enhance Conforama's commercial goals.
  2. Technology: Craft an infrastructure to realize our payment goals and seamlessly scale as the business grows.
  3. Risk: Manage and reduce the risk of payment fraud across all stages of the payment journey.

We needed to revamp our payment infrastructure to achieve our goals and bring a new payment partner on board. After careful consideration, Primer proved to be the ideal match for our needs and will now serve as our Unified Payments Infrastructure for all of Conforama's ecommerce payments.

James: You ran an extensive RFP to select your payment infrastructure provider. Why Primer?

Lucas: That's right. I started speaking with about 12 companies and quickly shorted the list to four that would enter the formal RFP stage. At this point, I involved all the teams that would use the platform to ensure it met their needs as well as mine.

It was imperative to get that cross-organizational buy-in to ensure that payments don't become a siloed function. After several months of discussion and evaluation, Primer emerged as the clear winner for several reasons:

  1. Usability: Most payment solutions aren't very user-friendly—you need to have a deep understanding of payments to have any chance of using them. Primer breaks that mold. Everyone involved in the RFP commented on how intuitive the platform is and how they could see themselves becoming power users. That's incredibly important as we aim to allow everyone across the business to use payments to meet their goals. The Primer team also has strong support structures that mean we have confidence that we'll get answers to any questions quickly.
  2. Commercial-focused: Primer is built by people who get the opportunities that payments can create for businesses. And everything reflects that. From the platform's flexibility to the tools it offers to improve key payment metrics, to its data and analytics features, and even the way it lets you add non-payment third-party apps to the payment flow. And the Primer team that'll be supporting us also has a proven record of helping businesses optimize their payments and make them a strategic asset.
  3. End-to-end tooling: Another point to highlight is that we chose Primer because it has tools that optimize every stage of the payment lifecycle. This is rare as most others focus on one specific area. But with Primer, we can optimize the checkout, processing, authentication, settlement, reconciliation, and even monitoring. The product roadmap is also inspiring.
  4. Strong foundations: Conforama is a well-established business. We want to work with other companies that are also established and have the fundamentals in place, meaning they're with us for the long term. Primer meets that criteria. Even though it's a young company, it's mature in its operations, has a solid customer base, and has support from the VC community. All this gives us confidence in its ability to be a long-term partner.

James: Why did you choose a third party like Primer rather than build a solution in-house?

Lucas: We don't have the resources to build and manage anything as robust and innovative as Primer. That made the build versus buy decision easy, and if we wanted all the capabilities a solution like Primer offers, we had to work with a partner.

A more complicated question was whether to use an agnostic solution, like Primer or go with a payment service provider offering an end-to-end platform. We had to weigh some factors, but ultimately, we valued the flexibility and choice Primer offers.

For example, we want to keep using our local acquirers because they have the best price and performance for Cartes Bancaires payments. With a full-suite PSP, we would either lose the performance by using them with another acquirer or pay more by using their acquiring.

With Primer, we don't have to make that compromise.

James: What are your objectives for the first 90 days as you go live with Primer?

Lucas: Our first goal is to launch and stabilize the platform. We've tested it thoroughly and had great support from the Primer team, so we hope everything goes smoothly.

We'll then optimize our payment flows with Primer's features and tools. One area we'll be focusing on is our 3DS strategy. Primer offers a range of powerful tools, such as Adaptive 3DS, to remove friction and create the optimal experience for our business and customers.

Another goal is to offer more payment methods to our customers, and we plan to launch our first Account-to-Account payment option. What's exciting is that we'll be able to launch this payment method in a matter of days/weeks with Primer, compared to the six months to a year it would have taken us in-house.

Although 'switching on' a new payment method is a fundamental use case for a solution like Primer; it'll show the company how we now have a payments foundation that can keep pace with and enable our commercial goals.

James: Beyond the first 90 days, which features within Primer are you most eager to utilize and why?

Lucas: A primary objective in the next six months—outside what we've discussed already—is to use Primer to power our marketplace payments. This will give our customers a consistent experience across all channels.

I also want to use  UpliftAI  to improve our authorization rates. I'm a big advocate of the power of AI in payments, and it'll be fascinating to work with Primer as they expand this solution to other parts of the payment lifecycle.

Another use case is using Primer's data to better manage our PSP relationships and ensure they perform at their best. This is something we could never have done before, and it has the potential to significantly impact our overall payment performance.

There's a lot on the roadmap—we're certainly going to be busy, but we're very excited about what we'll accomplish together.

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Head of Payments