Omni-channel puts payment everywhere, all the time

Nicolas Brand, Cross-Channel Payments Head of Business Development, Ingenico Group talks how the market is changing to suit customer needs to buy anytime, anywhere.

Omni-channel is a word that is getting used more and more – and for good reason. E-commerce, mobile and contactless payments have opened up myriad payment possibilities for consumers. And their appetite for consumption has not been sated. Today consumers want to be able to buy goods and services regardless of the time or the place. Retailers need to step up to the plate and seize the opportunities this brings by offering more payment options for the public.

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Driven by the development of social media and mobile devices, the emergence of the constantly-connected consumer has impacted their interactions with brands but also their expectations of how brands interact with them. The increasing number of touch points between consumers and merchants has led to the necessity of redefining the position of every sales channel: from a siloed organisation to a global brand experience.

We caught up with Nicolas Brand, Business Development Cross-Channel Payments at Ingenico Group, for his thoughts on where omni-channel is going and how retailers can capitalise from being available anywhere at anytime.

How do retailers provide a consistent shopper experience across channels?

“As most merchants manage multiple formats of transactions through diverse points of sale, they now feel it is time to think about implementing a unique payment strategy in order to streamline and improve this global customer experience.

 

“The ability to provide a security-driven and flexible acceptance of both Card Present and Card Not Present payments constitutes a major asset for businesses in terms of cost management, sales development and customer satisfaction.”

“Omni-channel is about payment flexibility for the sake of customer experience and of the merchant’s business & savings. A genuine omni-channel payment strategy breaks barriers to improve sales efficiency in-store, after-sales service, reduce fraud and in the end increase overall customer satisfaction.”

Omni-channel is about payment flexibility for the sake of customer experience and of the merchant’s business & savings.

Have retailers underestimated the potential of new sales channels while focusing on big store networks?

“Sorting that out is frightening as it involves a deep restructuring of the whole organisation with potential hostile parties.

“But moving towards omni-channel is now a necessity, driven by consumers, the market and business needs. It involves going through fundamental changes, not only to avoid disappointing customers but also to harness new opportunities from new technologies.

It is about creating seamless customer dialogue, equally through every stage of the customer journey, from pre-purchase research to post-sales touches.

“A powerful customer experience is not just about maintaining consistency, relevance and convenience at any cost. It is about creating seamless customer dialogue, equally through every stage of the customer journey, from pre-purchase research to post-sales touches.

“M&S has developed in-store hubs or kiosks allowing users to browse the catalogue or scan barcodes on items and explore product information. Customers can choose to order on the device and collect at a later date or have the product delivered.

“Retailers are looking at new ways to reduce the delivery time and price with innovative methods. This means that physical and online retailing start to converge with click and collect, which allows consumers to have flexibility: they can reserve items or make day-to-day purchases.”

What can this concretely bring to a brick & mortar retailer?

“The brick & mortar retailer is the first who can benefit from this omni-channel approach as it brings payment flexibility in-store, which was until now the privilege of e-merchants. How many retailers can sell out of stock items in-store, charging the customer upon delivery on its payment card? The payment phase can be much better integrated into the merchant’s sale process and fit to his customer expectations.

“The target may be high but a smart progressive omni-channel move should start with a solid multi-channel payment platform, which brings payment coherency across all acceptance channels, better financial reconciliation and facilitates transaction management. And this is not a given on the market, where most PSPs master one side of the business (card present or card not present) and try their luck on the other with much less experience and success.

So what steps can retailers take to capitalise on the trend towards omni-channel?

“Retailers need solutions that increase their points of interaction with customers. Consumers can now buy from the same brand at a physical store, online, on mobile or by self-service. Traditionally treated in different ways, these sales channels are often isolated from each other, making payment reconciliation complex and preventing customer information from being aggregated and used strategically.

“Ingenico can address these issues with an innovative omni-channel solution it has developed. By merging our payment gateways, Axis and Ingenico ePayments (formerly Ogone), we become the sole intermediary for all organized retail sales channels in order to: provide innovative services (payments, reporting and financial reconciliation); increase conversion rates; and optimize processing costs.

“Being omni-channel allows the merchant to switch from pure transactional processing to real order management. It also brings together all transactions involved in payment in one place. Omni-channel services seek to unify the consumer experience and offer the end-user a smooth buying experience, regardless of the interaction channel on which they choose to make a purchase.”

How does this approach enable new, dynamic type of data exchange between stores and e-commerce?

“For a web-to-store mode, in store, a merchant can use the payment card a customer used to reserve the item on the web for identification (by inserting the card into the terminal) and authentication (entering the card code) to finalize the purchase. This solution can be further secured for click-to-collect initiatives in stores.

“The other way around (store-to-web), any transaction in the store generates a payment token available to the merchant. The retailer can store this token in their own environment, using it to trigger remote payments in order to make new payment options available in the physical store.

“From a traditional store card payment, the retailer now has the opportunity to offer the payment in installments, payment by subscription, or deferred payment. At the heart of the retailer’s processes, omni-channel payment appears to be a business enabler. Omni-channel is here to stay and will grow rapidly. Retailers need to have a strong global payment strategy to succeed.”