Why omnichannel payments are needed for a seamless customer experience
The omnichannel payment gateway is an essential component in giving consumers a truly seamless experience, says David Gebhardt, Managing Director of Payments, Barclaycard. To find out how we can support your business, call our payment experts on 0800 096 8237*.
In today’s world there is a plethora of interactions, both physical and virtual, that form the basis of customer experience (CX). As many of these interactions are underpinned by payments, delivering a consistently positive experience is vital – a challenge that can be met with an omnichannel strategy.
The job of the omnichannel gateway is to unify all channels and deliver a seamless experience for customers. Put simply, an omnichannel gateway is an agnostic payments processor – no matter how or where the payment has come from the experience of making it should be the same.
This differs from multichannel, where there is the capability to deal with different payment sources and types, but brick and mortar stores remain essentially siloed from their online counterparts. Omnichannel elevates this, delivering a unified operation across multiple touchpoints. Customers can move between channels, and pay securely how and where they choose.
According to Forrester, European consumers are embracing this in ever-greater numbers:
- In 2015, the total value of payments that began in a digital channel but were completed offline was €457 billion.
- In 2020, the total value of payments initiated in a digital channel but completed in a physical one will be €704 billion.
- And by 2020, the total number of online and omnichannel transactions will account for 53% of all European retail sales.
The rise in omnichannel will also see support from regulation such as Open Banking, which will allow consumers to access their banking data via new third-party products and services. Payments platforms need to be able to process transactions across this new environment.
The omnichannel era is here
Clearly, a tipping point is upon us. Previous multichannel iterations, where ecommerce was absorbed into an existing system to give a functional but sometimes disjointed capability, have become a thing of the past.
Omnichannel gateways unify channels and deliver a seamless customer experience.
The need now is for a true omnichannel experience. This serves two purposes; it delivers on customer expectation, online and in-store, and allows for more efficient payments processing. After all, if everything is done on the omnichannel gateway, there is no need for the back-office reconciliation required for multichannel gateways. This is a real operational gain.
It also means businesses have a much better view of their customer data, as all the transaction data is held within the same system. Analysis of this data can bring further advantages as businesses can use it to gain insights that can in turn drive better customer experiences.
Of course, customer experience is often a top priority for financial institutions and retailers alike. Consumer expectations are high. Most are already comfortable with contactless cards, mobile payment apps and online wallets. Moving between online and in-store purchases, embracing self-service check-outs and Click and Collect is also increasingly common. An omnichannel solution makes it all look and feel easy.
Mobile is especially relevant with phones replacing cards as payments devices. In fact, in a recent survey, PwC found that 24% of their global sample use a mobile phone to shop at least weekly, while 23% use a PC and 16% use a tablet.
Newer initiatives too, such as NFC stickers and contactless wearables, biometrics and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are coming to the fore. And other advances are gaining traction: Juniper Research predicts that by 2022 invisible payment technologies will process more than $78 billion in transactions, while ecommerce from connected cars could exceed 8.2 billion transactions by 2023.
Flexible, friction-free payments promote sales
The simple truth is that if consumers cannot pay easily, they may not make the purchase at all. That challenge varies in different regions. In the UK for example, nearly all retailers accept credit or debit cards, while in some European countries without the preferred local payment card you can’t pay in some stores – even large chains – and may have to revert to cash. Added complexity adds a risk of losing the sale.
The move to omnichannel could offer a more rewarding experience.
In France, meanwhile, some retailers have completely removed the queuing lanes to create a store experience something like Apple, where customers pay store assistants directly using mobile POS technology. It’s quick and easy for the customer, and that encourages trade.
Providing a good experience also promotes repeat business. The PwC survey results suggest that “the less friction in the purchase journey, the more often consumers will shop and the more they’ll spend.”
A poor experience has the opposite effect, and could lead to basket abandonment in the short term coupled with a loss of loyalty longer term. That’s why our responsibility as a gateway provider is to put the systems in place to deliver the best possible experience.
Ultimately, customer experience is where the game could be won or lost in the digital age. No business can afford to ignore that. Payments must be more than just swift and secure; they must be integrated and delivered when, where and how customers want.
 PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019.
 Juniper Research | Smart Store Technologies to Generate Over $78 Billion in Annual Transaction Revenue by 2022
 Juniper Research | In-Vehicle Commerce Opportunities Drive Total Connected Cars To Exceed 775 Million By 2023
 Connected Shopper Report 2017
 Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019.
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