Three keys to omnichannel payment success
By Roger Niederer, Head Merchant Services, SIX Payment Services
Consumers’ shopping habits have changed dramatically over the past decade and retailers across the globe have been looking to create a more seamless experience for them. In recent years, several brands including Zara, Next, John Lewis and M&S have invested in partnerships with user experience platform providers to bring about omnichannel solutions.
Amazon also recognised the opportunity and moved forward with opening the first checkout-free grocery store, Amazon Go, in Seattle. This is just an example of how the online giant understands the power of getting consumers to their local shop while still providing a consistent and convenient experience throughout the entire retail journey.
According to a recent study conducted by SIX Payment Services and ibi research, interviewing nearly 300 merchants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 40% already use omnichannel practices and 32% are planning to invest in this area in the next three years. Moreover, 50% of those surveyed expected higher sales as a result of a successful omnichannel implementation programme. However, a report published by Multichannel Merchant and Brightpearl reveals that 87% of retailers agree that omnichannel is critical, but only 8% believe they have mastered it.
SIX Payment Services has studied the trends and challenges faced by merchants when it comes to implementing omnichannel payment programmes and identified three key areas that need to be addressed.
Integration boosts both experience and efficiency
Autonomous and unconnected e-commerce and in-store channels will most likely result in a fragmented customer experience, which in turn can lead to a loss of sales. It is more vital than ever to consider all channels and touchpoints, and for retailers to invest in a unique, smooth and brand-defining customer experience.
The key to omnichannel success is a fully integrated payment system that ensures efficiency and continuity across different channels and services such as Click and Collect, Click and Return and Endless Aisle. It is important to remember that solely owning these channels is not enough. Connected payment solutions can have lasting benefits for both businesses and customers as they are more streamlined and come with improved data analytics and the ability to deliver more targeted and personal customer relationship.
Merchants can utilise the inherent skills of a payments partner who has extensive experience in worldwide payment technology and can help simplify the complexities of having multiple distribution channels. Working with a partner that possesses global expertise, market presence and support, provides the foundation for a streamlined omnichannel process and consolidated payments system.
Payments can help make your customers loyal to your brand
Synchronising all touchpoints and payment points on a single platform may be challenging for many retailers as it implies the need for integrated solutions for Point Of Sale and e-commerce, which support use cases such as Click and Collect and Click and Return. In addition to simply ‘following’ a customer journey, in order to really harness the opportunities facilitated by omnichannel, a merchant can be successful by adding services to increase customer satisfaction and of course sales.
These can include loyalty schemes and bonus points which accumulate regardless of the nature of the transaction and special offers which can be tailored to the individual shopper. Not only do these extra services help boost sales, they also help increase customer satisfaction and their loyalty to a specific brand.
Do not lose sight of operational efficiency
Whilst it is vital for merchants to focus on meeting the needs of their customers across a range of channels, it is equally important that they do not lose sight of operational efficiency. Processes do not only need to be integrated at the ‘front of the house’, but the customer’s journey must also be reflected in the back office.
Gone are the days where in-store returns generated a host of manual interventions – written receipts, reallocation of payment, the return of goods to the main warehouse for stock processing etc. The advent of omnichannel means that this level of manual work simply doesn’t work. For a merchant to be truly successful in the ‘new world’ all systems must be fully integrated.
This means that one scan of the original receipt should be enough to reimburse the customer, automatically amend any loyalty points, update the merchant’s sales statistics and, crucially, the item is immediately be added to the store inventory for another customer to purchase, either in person or online. Further to this, merchants can also monitor customers who Click and Return regularly – perhaps excluding them from certain offers such as ‘pay later’. In this way, not only does the merchant save on many ‘man hours’, but they can also speed up the stock re-allocation process to help facilitate further sales.
Despite efforts to become more omnichannel, without addressing the services disconnect with a dedicated solution that can be implemented quickly, merchants will continue to fail when it comes to truly meeting the expectations of the more demanding customer. The path to omnichannel is complex and merchants are at a crossroads with a number of technology options. Despite this, they need to invest more time upfront and select the right payment technology partner to effectively implement omnichannel strategies.