The explosion in online shopping in the past ten to fifteen years has been unprecedented, and we’re living in an age where any retailer or service provider worth their salt will operate an online portal – either exclusively or alongside traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. However, what is now becoming more clear is that the development of that online marketplace was only the beginning of an omnichannel evolution in how consumers research, browse and buy products and services – not an end point.
A recent Worldpay survey revealed that 63% of shoppers use multiple channels when making purchases over £100. This can take any number of forms, from researching and browsing online before buying in-store, to “showrooming”, where the customer might view and compare products in a physical store before making an online purchase for home delivery – perhaps even doing so on their smartphone or tablet while still in the shop.
Crucially, the consumer usually doesn’t even think about different “channels” – to them it’s part of the same, continuous shopping experience. It shouldn’t matter if a customer chooses to make the actual purchase at a shop till or digital kiosk, at home on their desktop PC, or on the move via a smartphone app – what they want is a joined-up and uniform journey from browsing to payment. Implementing a successful omnichannel payment strategy needs to be at the heart of providing that consistent and straightforward customer experience.
Omnichannel Payment Challenges
Of course, there are challenges in implementing such a strategy. A recent report published by PCM Research and ACI Worldwide indicates that only 21% of merchants in the UK, Europe and North America have fully implemented an omnichannel payments programme – mainly department stores and large groceries – with 46% saying they have no plans to do so in the next year. The key barriers to strategic implementation include solution availability and regulatory and compliance factors, while incompatible legacy systems and problems integrating data are seen as being the top technology challenges.
While the urgency of developing an omnichannel payment system will vary from one retailer to the next, there’s no denying that taking a holistic approach to implementation – evaluating existing payment infrastructures and upgrading to a new omnichannel approach, with an eye on regulatory and security requirements – has the potential to deliver considerable competitive advantages; especially as, according to the PCM report, some 50% of businesses admit to being technology “followers” in terms of their organisational ability to innovate in payments.