An Omnichannel-First Approach to Payments


The divide between online and offline is over, at least from the consumer’s perspective. Consumers want to be able to shop for products online or from their mobile device and make returns to a store. They want to have an integrated experience across a business’s sales channels and be able to make purchases wherever and however they like, regardless of if it’s through a web browser, mobile app or in-person, or with cash, card, check or mobile wallet.

To meet the shift in consumer behavior and to create an integrated, omnichannel experience, forward-thinking businesses must incorporate tactical approaches across the organization. From identifying new go-to-market strategies to offering a 24/7 storefront, businesses are making changes to optimize their customer’s experience.

A true cross-channel experience will allow a consumer to shop and add items to their shopping cart from a mobile app, and complete the purchase through a web browser on their desktop computer. In order to deliver such an experience, businesses require an integrated system that is able to store each customer profile with their personalized information. By doing so, regardless of the channel, the business can identify the customer and automatically populate their shopping cart, purchase history and payment information for a true omnichannel experience. And this begins with the payment system.

Over the years, businesses have kept their legacy payment systems at pace by continuing to add on new applications piece-meal, such as routing capabilities, advanced reporting capabilities, recurring billing and account updater, on top of existing infrastructure. And while this has enabled businesses in the interim to process different methods of payment, there are back-end and long-term challenges that are not efficient or cost-effective. Built decades ago, these payment systems have been manipulated into a fragmented, Frankenstein machine that impacts customer retention, referrals, and brand reputation.

The Limitations of Legacy Payment Systems

When multiple vendor solutions are layered on top of a system that was meant for a single form of payment processing, businesses must deal with more than what they bargained for.

Multiple vendors mean that digital data is stored on different platforms, and as a consequence, the idea of creating a 360-degree view of the customer becomes further out of reach. What compounds the problem is that the cardholder data is being stored and can be tokenized in different ways. Answering the question of what is a customer’s favored payment method is nearly impossible and creating an integrated shopping experience becomes increasingly more difficult.

Also, the vendors required to run transactions online and offline results in multiple fees. Each time a new way of processing payments needs to be supported, the merchant must find a specialized solution provider that is compatible and integrates with their own system.

This creates a headache for the accounting team that must deal with multiple reports from different systems. The time spent reconciling numbers is an inefficient use of time that could be allocated elsewhere.

Businesses who want to be ahead of their competition must choose a payments platform that aligns with their omnichannel strategy and can support all the ways customers make payments today as well as simplify how they are managed.

Planning for the future

When selecting a payment system, an omnichannel strategy should be top of mind. To ensure that businesses meet the new standard in payments infrastructure, there are key considerations that must be factored into the evaluation and purchase process from security and fraud management to reporting and what merchant acquirers, payment processors and payment gateways are needed.

Businesses must evaluate how their chosen payments system supports its sales channels and determine what sort of customer experience they want to create. They will want to have a 360-degree view of each customer, which includes all their payment information. To start, businesses will need to look for the right payments technology to support digital needs. Not doing so will leave the business open for younger and more modern competitors to step in.

Also, say goodbye to physical servers. Cloud infrastructure has reached a stage of maturity where technologies built on top of these systems are able to deliver on its promised benefits. At the top of that list is how much flexibility a business will have in terms of supporting digital data needs, scaling quickly and creating modern software to support what payments are accepted and how they’re processed. In addition, a cloud-based system gives real-time access to live data and sales reports as well as easy integration with additional software used within the organization.

With the amount of digital data being collected, ensure reporting intelligence and data analytics are built-in capabilities from your payments provider to allow quick and efficient management of payment finances. In the long-term, this information can feed into an insight-driven approach for businesses and sales partners to anticipate and react to future business developments. In-depth analysis can inform business decisions and drive operational efficiencies.

When personal financial information is involved, security needs to be built into the payments system. Maximize security and focus on how to minimize a businesses’ compliance scope, by looking for technologies and a PCI-DSS Certified compliant service provider. In addition, check for fraud prevention that includes both transaction processing to chargeback fraud management.

The payments ecosystem has evolved into a complex global phenomenon. With more payment options for consumers than ever before, it’s important that they receive a simple experience wherever products and services are being purchased. To achieve this, businesses need an omnichannel payments platform that is versatile, integrated, secure and as seamless as possible.  

About the Author: Craig Gass is currently the CEO of Qualpay, a provider of integrated omnichannel payment solutions. He has 30+ years of legal and management experience with Financial Institutions and Payments Companies in both publicly traded and privately held companies. Craig received his B.A. in political science from Washington State University, earned his J.D. from Willamette University College of Law and earned his M.B.A. from University of Oregon. 

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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