My Path in Payments, Aleksandra Wasielewska, Allegro
Aleksandra Wasielewska never set out to work in payments, however, she is now instrumental in how millions of people interact with ecommerce in Poland. She’s responsible for the entire end-to-end customer journey and her experience leading up to this role is what gave her the ability to come at it with a fresh and inventive perspective.
Creating a customer-centric approach
Last year Aleksandra was promoted to Senior Product Manager and took the Lead Product Manager role in consumer payments. At the same time, Allegro was shifting the way that the business and technology teams work together. This led to the creation of a business unit that handles customer awareness, the transaction, the checkout and the post-purchase experiences. Her chief responsibility is for the customer payments within this remit.
She runs a cross-functional product development team that includes engineers, researchers, designers, data analysts, and representatives of internal stakeholders like marketing and customer service departments. The team is focused on the input and output KPIs to make sure that every decision they make has the right impact on the business.
Her role also requires that she manage relationships with partners and across teams. The goal is to make every payment a successful one as customer satisfaction relies on this. She is always keeping watch of the payment experience to make it as near to perfect as possible. Wasielewska explains, “Any change can affect the checkout and payment flow, so I’m the eyes, ears and voice of the customer in this process.”
Customer convenience drives innovation, change and ultimately business success for Allegro. “There are a lot of buzzwords in payments: ‘effortless payments’, ‘seamless payments’, ‘frictionless payments’, but ultimately it’s all about one dedicated internal metric that we call the C-index, or convenience index. We’re measuring convenience throughout the customer journey and how any change impacts customer convenience.”
Building towards a career in payments
Technology, business and solving customer problems had been recurring themes in Wasielewska's career before working at Allegro. In 2010, she started in customer service at one of the biggest banks in Poland. Working closely with customers bred a desire to have an impact on what they experienced. This led her to the technology team in Santander Bank where she became a software tester. She loved working in technology but she wanted to challenge herself further.
That was when she joined a start-up so that, having learnt the functioning of a huge organisation, she could get to grips with the other end of the scale. In this role she had to wear many hats and she was exposed to every part of the business.
Her experience in all these roles at various organisations gave her the unique perspective and understanding of how the different teams within businesses work together to create the end product or service that the customer receives. She was still eager to test herself and wanted to move into the software industry which is when she began working in a software house as an IT analyst finding the best solution for challenges that banks faced.
In 2016, Wasielewska was ready once more for a challenge. Those around her had told her that she had an intuitive knack for observing the broader context of a situation and natural analytical abilities. She also saw that ecommerce, specifically digital payments, was a hotbed of innovation and she knew that payments would be the best career option for her moving forward. It was then that an opportunity arose at Allegro.
Payment innovation in Poland
The payment infrastructure in Poland is modern and predominantly contactless at point of sale. Twenty percent of Polish consumers became ecommerce converts during the pandemic and 12% say they will not return to bricks and mortar stores according to our report. Mobile payments via Apple Pay, Google Pay and BLIK (launched in 2015 in Poland) are popular both in physical and online shops.
Wasielewska notes, “Poland is a modern payment market when it comes to banks and required infrastructure, products and services. Actually, it became 100% contactless recently with a growing penetration of mobile payments.”
In her role at Allegro, she was thrown in at the deep end from the outset. She worked on domestic projects and found ways for international retailers, wanting to close sales with Polish customers, to receive payment simply and securely. “Understanding how all these markets work – not to mention the individual businesses and consumers in each market – is fascinating. I think I was in the best place I could imagine at the time.”
Payments is the glue that holds everything together
Payments sit at the interface between so many things at Allegro: business and technology, product development and user experience, buyers and sellers, colleagues and partners. It is a cross-functional part of the business. So, Wasielewska’s role is a vital part of managing collaboration between costs of payment and relationships with internal and external payment partners.
“When it comes to working with external parties, we translate the goals of our organization to partners so they can understand ecommerce from our customers’ point of view. We build a common understanding of where we are going, what the goals are and how we are going to deliver according to a clear set of KPIs.”
Communicating goals with internal colleagues is also prioritized at Allegro as employees from different departments work as close partners to make sure that there is effective collaboration. The earlier teams are aligned on the desired results, the more effective they can be at solving for the needs of the customer.
“For example, our commerce team provides insights into the sellers which gives context for our work. This is important to the consumer experience because obviously Allegro matches buyers with sellers and the proposition must work for everyone,” she explains. “We’re working so closely that over time we’ve come to understand every detail of each other’s business lines. And because I understand the business side and my partners understand the technology and product side, not only can we deliver better and faster outcomes but we also can change direction quickly when it is needed.”
Continuously streamlining the customer’s experience
Working in payments at Allegro has given Wasielewska the opportunity to be part of the release of new products that solve for customer convenience. Wasielewska and her team are aware that if the customer finds the checkout process safe and convenient, they will come back to Allegro over and over.
Recently, Allegro developed its own proprietary consumer finance lending solutions, Allegro Pay, a buy now, pay later (BNPL) product, which gives customers the convenience of paying for purchases later in various instalments. And draws on Allegro’s 20 years of experience and customer behavior data to model risk. Being part of a company that is innovating in the payments space gives Wasielewska the challenges that she is always looking for.
Then there’s innovation through simplification, such as creating one-click payments, personalized shopping experiences and next-day delivery. This is more convenient for customers, better for sellers and brand-differentiating for Allegro. “Card on file is a very, very convenient way of paying in ecommerce because you have the one click experience,” says Wasielewska.
Getting the balancing act right
Looking to the future, Wasielewska foresees the balance that needs to be achieved in payments as becoming even more important as customers want speed and convenience as well as security and privacy. The trick, she feels, will be considering the needs of all of Allegro’s customers - from teens to silver surfers. One size definitely doesn’t fit all in terms of proposition, business, technology or payments.
“Take biometrics, for example. Not all our customers would be happy to scan their face and pay with a selfie,” she explains. “They may not be comfortable sharing this type of personal data for security and privacy reasons. Whereas they may feel differently around sharing payment data for one-click checkout and subscriptions for the convenience this brings.”
It’s a similar balancing act for payment professionals. The successful payment professional is part expert, part mentor, part salesperson and part diplomat. Obviously, they must balance being an expert in payments, with being comfortable and conversant with both business and technology drivers, and knowledgeable about product and project management.
Wasielewska is very encouraging of others who are interested in a path in technology and payments in particular, “I think that a personal goal of mine is to encourage more people to find their own path in technology.” Mentoring others to find the right career path is something that she will be doing more of in the future.
Wasielewska will also always be looking for ways to innovate and find solutions to problems that others might deem impossible. Pushing boundaries is part of who she is in and out of her career. And it is this approach that has made her so well positioned to a path in payments.