Business Blog Fresh from REWE Group: paymenttools. Interview with Salah Zayakh, Managing Director & Founder

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
November 2021

It’s here, and it’s about to entirely change the relationship between customers, retailers and the payment industry – paymenttools is the latest brilliant offering from REWE Group. To learn more about this new digital platform, we chatted with Salah Zayakh to discover the big picture when it comes to their newest creation.

businessblog_2021_fresh-from-rewe-group-paymenttools_1.jpg

Can you describe the inspiration for creating the paymenttools platforms?

Salah Zayakh: We at REWE Group have such an intimate relationship with our retail customers; we see them very often in our stores and on our websites. After all, everyone needs to eat multiple times a day and everyone needs to pay for their groceries. So we realized that there is a genuine chance to delight customers at such a sensitive touchpoint as payment. REWE Group also has a history in payment processing.

In 2012, REWE Group decided to internalize some key payment processes for its 7,500 stationary markets in Germany. In 2020, we rethought our payment strategy and we found out that: 

  1. The payment market is ready for some big changes. There is a lot of potential we can promote in our own payment sphere.

  2. We have more than enough know-how and skill to augment our current payment processing into a full-fledged payment platform.

  3. It's time to rethink and directly act on payment from a merchant’s perspective and leverage our natural and strategic strengths. And we can do all of this in 22 countries where the Group is operating. 

This is how paymenttools was born and the inspiration behind its development. As we are a B2B2C business, we empower our business customers to offer the best possible payment experience for their retail customers.

Before paymenttools, there was commercetools and fulfillmenttools. What is the function of paymenttools and what is the gap in the customer journey that paymenttools overcomes?

Salah Zayakh: Let’s look at the customer journey. commercetools, the leader in MACH-based commerce platforms, enables shoppers to purchase their grocery orders, and is at the beginning of the customer journey. fulfillmenttools, our distributed logistics, last-mile delivery company that easily handles all of the complexities of food fulfillment, is at the end. Right in the middle of the journey, there is a gap which is currently filled by third-party systems.

By completing the customer journey with our own platform for all things payment and tightly integrating it with our commerce and fulfillment platform, we can ensure a smoother and consistent journey for our (joint) B2B customers. Plus, this gives us the freedom and ability to react faster to the changes in customer behavior and the general market.

businessblog_2021_fresh-from-rewe-group-paymenttools_2.jpg

What are the benefits to REWE Group customers with paymenttools and the newly completed omnichannel customer ecosystem?

 Salah Zayakh: Our extremely high customer contact frequency gives us an edge on the market. How many times does the bank see their customers? How often do you book a trip for vacation? How often do you buy a car? Our customers, on the other hand, may visit us five times per week...or even more! There are few payment service providers (PSPs) which have such a deep relationship with merchants and their customers. So having that kind of profound connection with people who shop with us is built straight into our DNA. 

So how can we help our customers and other retailers? When people think of payment at the cash register or on a website, they often associate it with a complicated process that involves waiting in long queues, fiddling around looking for change, typing in long credit card numbers and dates or trying to come up with that strong password for yet another account. And of course the classic question at the end “Do you have a bonus card?” – we want to remove the pain from paying. 

That’s why we love the term “invisible payment,” which for us directly translates to putting payment in the background where it belongs, so the customer can focus on the more pleasant aspects of the shopping experience. Additionally, we empower retailers to better understand and improve their business with new added-value services and tools – think digital receipts, loyalty baked into payment and customer insights. Delivering high-impact for shoppers and retailers while staying nearly invisible – that’s us.

paymenttools is also offered for other businesses to use. For these business customers, what makes the integration of these three tools together so simple?

Salah Zayakh: The technology stacks of all three platforms are state-of-the-art, cloud-native, microservice-based and API-first. All three platforms are independent from a technology and business perspective. But because the people behind all three platforms are connected and share a lot of history, the platforms are connected too. Our expectation to ourselves is that if you sign up as a B2B customer on any of our platforms, it is a breeze to use one of the other two platforms – if you so choose – because they integrate into each other perfectly.

How did REWE Group undergo its digital transformation from grocery store to leader in digital retail solutions?

Salah Zayakh: I find this more mindset- and culture-related than technology-related. We observed that our customers were developing increasingly strong digital needs and habits. And to serve them well, we responded to that by founding REWE digital eight years ago with three goals in mind:

  1. Conquering the online grocery shopping market with new businesses.

  2. Nurturing technology know-how and capabilities.

  3. Pairing a digital mindset with retail expertise.

This was around the time REWE digital bought commercetools. While REWE digital was focused on internal needs only, the commercetools platform was open for external parties. We started to think differently about technology. We learned that we can use technology to not only solve our own challenges, but also the challenges of others. It’s not only something we bought to do business. It’s a strategic asset we need to at least understand, and better yet, master so we can continue to delight our customers and the customers of other merchants.

If you're interested in implementing a headless strategy for your company, reading our Headless Commerce Playbook for Business Leaders white paper makes a great starting point.

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
November 2021

Latest Blog Posts