Your money’s good here! How omnichannel retail payment processes can make people happier on both sides of the counterWritten by: Deesean Wilson, Director, Industry - Retail and e-Commerce
“Omnichannel retail” is a loaded term. It’s applied to: how we shop and transact; the varied means of inventory management, supply chain management, and pickup and delivery; the more varied means of payment; the even more varied means of customer service; and the endlessly divergent ways in which to go about building a successful retail business.
For the next few blogs, we’re going to dig into the various meanings and methodologies attached to that umbrella term, omnichannel retail. Today, we’re digging into where the rubber meets the road: omnichannel payment processing. Let’s go!
Keeping the checkout process smooth… and customers happy
The biggest friction point in the retail process is often checkout, especially online, a channel we’ll get into at a later date. The largest pain associated with checkout (online and off) is the payment process.
A botched customer experience at this point — after a customer has made up their mind to buy something — is unacceptable. A clunky checkout experience or complicated/limited payment options can result in a 1) a customer abandoning a cart, 2) not making a repeat visit, 3) telling others about their poor experience, or all the above.
But it’s a fine line between giving shoppers everything they want in terms of checkout and payment options and keeping your business costs optimal and reducing opportunities for fraud. Of course, if you let people truly pay how they want and when they want, you would be getting nothing and/or never.
Fortunately for consumer and retailer alike, there is a plethora of payment options beyond cash, credit, and debit including, but not limited to, PayPal, Apple Pay, Klarna, Alipay, WeChat, Bold, Venmo, Affirm, Ideal, and good old-fashioned hand-written checks.
“And they don’t take American Express… (but they should)”
Remember those Visa commercials? “Visa: it’s everywhere you want to be.” True. Also true that that campaign no longer holds water as, today, the retailer that doesn’t take American Express is nowhere anyone wants to be. Most retailers are bending over backward to take whatever payments their customers prefer: “Amex? You bet! Check? Ummm… sure! Monopoly money…? We can probably make that work…”
While it’d be great for a retailer to simply say, “Yes: we take all forms of payment imaginable,” the reality is that every payment method can have a different impact on a retailer’s operations, security, efficiency, and even the staff and customer experience. Even though “omni” means “all,” we’re often forced to analyze the issues and choose “some” in order to ensure optimal retailing.
The first set of issues are in respect to feasibility and cost to implement. Such as:
- Does your technology platform, including your payment processing gateway partner, accept these payment methods out of the box?
- Is it even feasible to integrate data-wise or with existing terminal and payment device hardware?
- Will incorporating a new payment method result in PCI exposure and need to perform a PCI audit?
- Does the incorporation of the new payment method cause changes at the cash wrap?
- What are the costs to initially acquire the ability to perform payment processing and the ongoing transactional and software/terminal license fees?
- From a reconciliation and settlement standpoint, how much labor at HQ/backoffice will be needed or can that be managed through automation and exception management?
These issues and more must be identified and analyzed to get a true sense of the investment required to understand feasibility, sensibility, and time to market in implementing a new payment method.
The payment process isn’t a process, but an experience.
The next factors to consider are connected directly to the consumer experience. Such as…
- Regardless of the payment method, would you want (in an in-store, brick-and-mortar experience) the cashier to initiate payment process, or the customer to initiate?
- What level of contact do you want the customer to have with the payment device for digital wallet or traditional methods of payment (e.g., tap and go)?
- How do the payment types support digital wallet technology in store, online and mobile; how much or little friction do these payment methods and their implementation (through your platform or payment provider) cause?
- Are the payment methods supported providing the same experience and capabilities seamlessly across all channels?
- With respect to logistics and the average authorization, what are the processing impacts for authorization holds and reauthorization for when an item is picked or shipped (confirmed in stock) for online/mobile/special orders?
- Regarding the exception scenarios, how seamless is the return and cancellation process, including payment plans (with/without deposit), subscriptions/continuity orders, or when items are not in stock/backordered?
Just when you thought “the what” was complicated (the feasibility of implementation detailed above), along comes “the how.” These customer experience factors can make or break whether you’re getting five-star reviews or dragged through the mud.
If you build it, they won’t come. You’ve got to tell them, too.
The final factor in retail omnichannel payment method strategy is customer and employee awareness. This cannot be understated: If your customers and employees are not aware of the features and benefits of omnichannel payment methods you’re capable of offering, they may as well not even exist.
Consumer marketing (online banners, in-store signage) and employee training can help you gain and maintain traction with omnichannel payment processing. Bonus: Training employees in new payment processes also presents the opportunity to give them a refresher in customer service, improved checkout processes, and more.
To motivate consumers to use new means of payment, retailers have more than a few options, such as co-promotions with payment service providers. For example, “Use Klarna to buy the ‘2022 widget wonders of the world’ and be entered to win a prize!”. It’s a pretty solid means to kickstart a new payment method.
Omnichannel payment is here: what next?
Every retailer’s goal is to streamline both online and in-store business to deliver a consistent and differentiated customer experience. And the most important aspect of that experience is when the money changes hands. Like it or not, all retailers have to move, and move quickly, to omnichannel payment processing.
Fortunately, as they say, “there’s an app for that.” Not really an app, but a platform, i.e., Microsoft Dynamics 365 and all the modular possibilities it presents for launching an omnichannel solution.
ArganoArbela can help you navigate the possibilities and take all the known challenges detailed here into account — plus a whole bunch of unknowns that every retail environment invariably presents. We can help build a retail platform with omnichannel built-in at every level.
Contact us today and let’s empower your business with omnichannel payment processing, and let’s start making some customers happier than ever.