Commerce has evolved to become a fluid, multifaceted consumer journey that encompasses a variety of channels, devices, and payment options. The blending of the physical and digital has made it increasingly important for brands to provide a consistent and seamless experience across all channels as consumers find, fulfill, and pay for purchases.
Enterprise merchants who had been contemplating, testing, and piloting new sales and fulfillment models for months or years were suddenly thrust into “get it done” mode and had to implement solutions in weeks, or even days. In-store point-of-sale (POS) systems activated contactless and digital wallet payments. Grocery and discount stores reconfigured for Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup. Restaurants stood up delivery platforms and implemented QR code technology. Retailers promoted Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) as a short-term installment lending option.
It’s clear that these adopted consumer habits are here to stay. The good news is that the swift acceleration broke the traditional “tinker, test, and delay” decision cycle. Organizations must be able to mobilize and innovate faster and better, whether prompted by external influences such as a pandemic, or competitive pressure to keep up with emerging trends.
The need for speed in response to changing consumer demands in the pandemic meant that many enterprise merchants bolted on services from third parties in a rush. Decision makers are now evaluating whether those deals are the best fit moving forward, whether from a financial standpoint, related to feature/function alignment, or even cultural fit.
For the business, where the purchase happens isn’t significant. It’s a sale. More and more shoppers are starting their journey in a mobile or online environment and completing it in person. Historically, it has been difficult to identify an individual customer’s journey as they moved across channels and interacted with disparate systems. That is no longer the case thanks to omnichannel commerce platforms.
One way to optimize is to collapse separate systems, implementation cycles, and onboarding for physical, digital, and mobile channels into one. This saves time, resources, and money. Bringing the systems and the data together creates a huge advantage and allows the retailer to identify and interact with that customer in one voice. It also provides data intelligence that helps a business better understand and serve their customers. False positives for payment transactions are reduced, which increases conversions, improves customer satisfaction and mitigates chargeback losses.
The ability for merchants to provide a consistent and continuous experience as customers move between digital and physical channels to find, fulfill and pay for purchases is increasingly blending into the background; like your experience when you take an Uber. This is an evolution from the early days of credit cards. Merchants accepted credit to remove the friction of exchanging cash and were rewarded with higher basket sizes. With digital experiences, the psychological barrier of exchanging money is further reduced, which increases revenue since consumers are deciding what they want and ordering it without a separate speed bump for payment. It is possible to ask your smart speaker to place an order that may be fulfilled across three different merchant sites, or pull into a gas station and tell your car to fill up at the pump. The price and payment moves further into the background.
“Do It Yourself” is great for home hobbyists and craft enthusiasts. Building and nurturing in-house payments expertise is expensive and resource laden. Payment acceptance is the typically the third-highest cost for retailers. Merchant’s IT departments are running big projects —with big budgets—where internal developers are updating code for legacy payment systems. It’s not an efficient model for the future.
Replacing in-house resources with payment industry experts allows IT to refocus developers on strategic revenue initiatives while removing the need for them to keep up with payment industry trends. Turning to a partner with payments expertise, global scale, and a portfolio of pre-certified integrations and plug-ins for ERPs, platforms, marketplaces, and value-added services reduces friction and speeds time to market through one simple and smart interface. And on the business side, the right payments partner becomes your advocate when dealing with the card brands and government agencies.
Borders are shrinking, and the pressure to expand into new markets is burdensome for many companies. It’s becoming easier for merchants to go across borders and operate multinational channels, whether digital or physical. However, when it comes to payment acceptance, there isn’t a magic switch to “go international.” Payment methods, privacy rules, and government regulations vary by region and country, making it challenging for in-house resources—or the wrong partner—to understand how to move money and stay compliant.
The right partner has the scale and expertise to operate at a global scale. That doesn’t always mean operating everywhere in the world. Payment platforms should offer in-country solutions across a broad global footprint and connect to a choice of certified acquirers with one interface that extends plug-and-play connectivity to hard-to-reach locales with unique payment schemes.
The goal of omnichannel commerce is to create a seamless blend between physical and digital channels. Integrating your back-office systems with your digital presence—including inventory and pricing—is a fundamental step.
Look for a partner with a centralized commerce hub that features an intuitive self-service portal. Through simple integration and a single API spec, you should be able to easily add additional functionality from within the hub. This approach consolidates vendors, reduces development time, and increases speed to market, so you can further enhance your customer’s experience.
As you evaluate solutions that prepare you for future experiences, be sure to consider these important principles:
A single entry point and intelligent orchestration layer creates a unified payments, reporting, and boarding experience through your existing infrastructure. With less ongoing maintenance and fewer operational costs, you can focus on creating new ways for consumers to discover and interact with your brand.