As E-commerce continues to boom, more merchants are focused on providing a true omnichannel payments experience. Here’s what you need to know about implementing an omnichannel payments strategy.

With consumers embracing E-commerce, we’ve seen organizations increasingly invest in their digital operations in recent times. Yet, it is not enough to just have a web presence or offer digital purchasing channels. Today’s shoppers expect a holistic experience when interacting with their favorite businesses. They want to be recognized and valued — and they are willing to pay for this privilege.

Consumers are not choosing online over in-store or vice versa. Instead, they want to use both interchangeably. A study in Harvard Business Review found 73% of consumers used multiple channels during their shopping journey and were likely to spend more than their single-channel counterparts. The study found that on average, they spent 4% more in-store and 10% more online at each transaction. This is a lot of revenue that companies could be leaving on the table.

The Reality of Omnichannel Payments

Customers today like to take control; the growing popularity of self-checkout lines and online chat agents are a testament to this fact. This holds true for payments as well — with consumers rapidly embracing contactless methods. All this is to say that it’s time for companies to keep up: if customers can’t pay the way they prefer, they may go elsewhere. According to NRF and Forrester, 67% of retailers now accept some kind of contactless payment. Offering digital services is now table stakes in today’s market — but companies should not stop with just that.

Merchants must move beyond simple online or multi-channel strategies and focus on true omnichannel experiences.

Let’s break this down for you —

Where multi-channel offers separate experiences across in-store, desktop, and mobile; omnichannel, on the other hand, provides a cohesive experience — regardless of where or how a customer chooses to shop. Many merchants are still not able to share customer information or support customer journeys that move between channels. As a result, customers face more friction, which can lead to cart abandonment and avoiding certain merchants altogether.

The Requirements of Real Omnichannel Payments

A true omnichannel payments approach requires integration between channels that allows customers to seamlessly shop and pay in ways that they feel comfortable. Omnichannel success requires comprehensive technical infrastructure that enables data sharing and personalization. Data sharing is the lynchpin of a successful omnichannel strategy, but it’s not the only factor. Companies should also keep in mind several key considerations.

Understand Your Customers

There are so many digital channels that companies risk stretching themselves too thin, trying to be present everywhere. It is better to perform well on a select few than disappoint on many. It is critical to collect data on where customers search for products, where they look for reviews, and where they choose to complete their transactions. This will help identify which platforms you should invest in, for outsized impact while protecting the bottom line.

Data Management

The ultimate goal of omnichannel is to create a unified view of the shopper, which requires the consolidation of customer data. Register all activity as part of an individual’s profile, whether that is clicking through an SMS promotion or shipping an item to a new location. Collecting details about their preferences can help tailor marketing communications and improve conversions — all while making the consumer feel valued. The better you know the customer, the more you can remove friction from their purchasing experience — and the more you can get them to convert.

Payments Security

Online transactions always come with the risk of fraud, but this grows when information is shared and stored in multiple places. Payments companies must invest in adequate security for their transactions, to protect customer data and minimize cyber threats. End-to-end encryption and tokenization will improve data protection, while SSL authentication is a valuable extra layer for card-not-present transactions. Most importantly, introduce regular reporting so that you can take action as soon as anything looks suspicious.

Customer Service

The growth of digital channels has not made customer service redundant — but the way these conversations happen has changed. Shoppers are still seeking out support, whether through text, online chat, or phone — and these experiences can sway their opinion of a business. To provide exceptional service, companies must ensure that staff have access to all the latest customer data. Employees can then fix issues quickly and efficiently while freeing up their time for more queries.

Agile Strategy

The online world is constantly evolving and so companies need to have the agility to respond. Creating a flexible infrastructure will let companies respond to changes in the market and integrate new digital tools as needed. This will set them up for success — no matter what they face. Customer data will be invaluable in this mission. Use it to identify trends in customer behavior before they become expectations, so you can delight the customer and differentiate your product from the crowd.

The Way Forward

Customers are seeking a unified shopping experience across all channels, as such payment providers should work towards converting customer transactions into connected experiences. In today’s fraud-rich E-commerce world, it’s not only essential that you’re staying compliant with payment regulations, but also need to assure that payments are accepted securely. An omnichannel payment strategy has now become the gold standard that both payment providers and merchants must strive to meet.

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