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Omnichannel payments

Published March 10, 2021

Do you remember the last time you had no choice but to get in your car and physically go to a store to get something? The key is that you had no other choice. Very likely it’s been a long time. Consumers today can buy nearly everything online. Want to buy a rocket ship? Ebay is selling one for $750,000 and all you need to do is add it to your cart, pay for it and wait for it to arrive. Maybe you’d like an island? Not a problem, Private Islands has you covered.

So, when it comes to more routine items, consumers now expect to get them conveniently, quickly, easily and using every payment choice they have wherever they are. And there should be no friction, regardless of how they pay (online or in your store). That’s the omnichannel payment way of the world.

What are the types of omnichannel payments?

It’s been a long time since the only way consumers could buy something was to use cash or check. Debit and credit card processing made things easier, but now there are so many ways to pay that it can be difficult for retailers to keep up—and they need to. Here’s an overview of consumers’ payment (channel) options:

Look at mobile go: It’s been more than six years since Apple launched Apple Pay, their mobile payment used easily on iPhones. And while there may have been skepticism initially, there’s no doubt now that consumers love them. The creation of Google Pay, Samsung Pay, peer-to-peer payments like Venmo, FI digital payments such as Zelle and more, demonstrate mobile pay’s popularity. While intended mainly for smartphones, consumers can now use things like their wearables to make mobile purchases (using their smartwatches and fitness trackers, which includes shoes).

Online sales keep growing. Particularly during the pandemic, online sales have increased in most countries. In the U.S. alone, in 2020 they grew 36 percent. And now many consumers are buying their groceries online, a trend that is likely to continue after the pandemic.

Related: How the payments industry was disrupted in 2020

Just using their voices. It may not get any more convenient to use virtual assistants like Amazon’s Echo to make purchases. Your customer needs paper towels? Lounging at home they can just say “Alexa buy paper towels.” And the Echo will quickly place an Amazon order in their Amazon shopping cart and ask them whether they’d like to purchase it. If they say yes, done deal.

Making a physical visit. While digital shopping has increased, most customers say they’d still prefer to have the option to shop in person in your store. And they’ll want to use multiple payments, including cash, debit and credit cards (likely contactless) and their mobile wallets.

Meeting their omnichannel payment demands, and engaging with them

The challenge for a merchant is to give customers the same shopping experience across every sales channel. For example, let’s say one of your customers is browsing your website and finds an item they want. That’s the first touch.

Then they decide they want to see it in person so they head to your store. On the way there, they check their phone to double check the price. That’s the second touch. When they arrive at your store and interact with the item, your staff and your brick-and-mortar that’s their third touch which could end there, or not.

They might decide they need time to think about it and end up buying it online. Regardless, the entire customer journey needs to be seamless. If they run into a problem at any point it’s just too easy for them to go to one of your competitors instead.

What’s more, your customers also want you to engage with them across every channel. While that can sound daunting, it actually provides you with an opportunity to set your brand apart and increase customer loyalty.

Take Nike for example. In 2018, they rolled out their House of Innovation 000 flagship store in New York City. The six-floor store has just the innovation for consumers’ desired omnichannel payments and omnichannel experiences. If they’re shopping in-store, they can use the Nike app to download and scan QR codes on mannequins “who” will “tell” them if the size and color they want is available or not.

And it gets even better for Nike online shoppers. They can pick out various types of running shoes they want to try on, arrive at the store, head to a locker, try them on, pick the ones they want, pay for them using their phone and then leave. Talk about a seamless omnichannel experience—and you can bet that companies like Adidas are paying attention to it.

Nordstrom is another retailer that’s had a recent innovative overhaul while keeping the omnichannel experience in mind. And they’re using software that’s integrated into their POS to create customer profiles that includes information about their style preferences. That way, they can send their customers product recommendations and alert them to new releases by brands they know they like. And, they’re also making sure to integrate the same inventory management system on both their website and their app to avoid any friction.

Related: Virtual shopping: Trying on clothes without visiting a store - CGTN

How omnichannel payment processing works

Basically, you want to have the technology that captures all of the order information, including all the customer’s information and save it so that it can easily and accurately be transferred to another channel. So, going back to the example above of your customer starting an experience online. Let’s say that they do begin purchasing the item online and then they change their mind and come to your brick-and-mortar to pick it up and pay for it. By retrieving the order in-store that was started online and seamlessly allowing them to pay there, that is supporting omnichannel payments.

It’s also critical for your POS system to be more of a payment platform. That way you not only have integrated payment capabilities to accept all the ways customers want to pay (contactless, using their mobile device etc.), it should have the innovation to, like Nordstrom, gather information about your customers. That way you can use it for marketing plans that go all in on social media. Learn more about the new payments platform that gave Stars Campus Solutions a competitive edge and automated their processes.

Don’t let your technology interfere with omnichannel payments

Do you know what stops omni in its’ tracks? Siloed systems. The key to giving your customers the same shopping experience across all sales channels is about sharing data and connecting various components of your systems. Siloes don’t share very well, if at all.

That can be a challenge for retailers with outdated technology, but that doesn’t mean ripping and replacing. You can bring on new digital technologies that work with your old systems to connect and run everything so you can give your customers the omnichannel payment solution that they want. 

It’s now omnichannel all the way

Here’s one more important thing about omnichannel payments, the experience isn’t just about convenience, it’s enjoyable. Talking to a device to order something? Having the option to then pick it up and pay with cash if they want to? Remembering on a jog that they need milk and paying with it using their fitness tracker? All the options make their lives easier—that’s the consumer fun in a digital-first world. And when you support omnichannel payments, you’ll give them something that increases customer loyalty like crazy: happiness. You’ll be saving them time so they can enjoy the things that matter most to them.

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