The introduction of new technologies can disrupt marketplaces and change consumer behaviors in any industry, and the payments industry is no exception. At the moment, commerce is undergoing a period of change similar to the point-of-sale (POS) revolution that occurred in the 1990s. At that time, the modern POS system took center stage as cash registers—and the cash they housed—fell by the wayside.
As markets migrate further into the digital realm, a handful of factors are reshaping commerce and once again taking it in a new direction. Driven by the popularity of smartphones, the prevalence of e-commerce retailers, widespread internet access, in-app purchasing and growing mobile wallet technologies, are all converging to give rise to a new trend: omnicommerce.
Omnicommerce Is Consumer-Centered Commerce
At the most basic level, omnicommerce is about businesses that enable consumers to take control of their own shopping experiences with the help of technology. Omnicommerce isn’t a single turnkey solution that a merchant can buy and implement. Rather, it’s a roadmap for reaching the end goal of seamless, frictionless commerce experiences that allow customers to transact at any point in the buying cycle, across any device or channel. Whereas the stationary POS dominated sales in the past, today’s on-the-go consumer is the rising star of modern commerce.
While the ability to interact with a single brand both in-store and online isn’t a new development, having those varied experiences mesh into one familiar and seamless experience is something new and unique, and can be brought to life with technology. An “omniconsumer” can browse for merchandise and read customer reviews online, interact with the merchandise in-person at the physical store, and then make the final purchase with their phone either in-store with digital wallet technology like Apple Pay or via an in-app mobile transaction.
Your new point of sale isn’t a single on- or offline storefront. It’s where the consumer wants it to be.
One Size Won’t Fit All
The ultimate goal of omnicommerce is to increase traffic, spending and loyalty. But the path to achieving these goals across multiple shopping channels won’t be the same for every business. Different business models have varied implications and strategies for approaching an omnicommerce experience. Because of this, you’ll have to look at every aspect of your business’ payment chain and decide which solutions are right for you.
For example, a quick-service restaurant may focus resources on enabling online ordering for in-store pickup and automatic checkout. A multichannel retailer would do better to focus on enabling easy customer reviews and online product comparison functionality. However it applies to your business, offering a true omnicommerce experience requires first identifying what a perfect, seamless customer experience looks like for your particular business.
Also, keep in mind that achieving that single optimized experience is unlikely to happen overnight. Rather, building an effective omnicommerce experience takes careful planning and evaluation. It’s about leveraging technologies that make sense, not whatever new offering happens to be popular at a given time.
Again, there isn’t one particular POS solution or e-commerce platform that brings omnicommerce to life. A better approach is to build the experience by selecting solutions that have the ability to grow and adapt to additional technologies as they are added over time.
Take One Step at a Time
You don’t have to be a technology expert to employ an omnicommerce strategy. Instead, use your expertise in your own industry and familiarity with your target customers as the basis for a conversation with a payments technology expert. Payment processing providers and POS vendors are great resources when it comes to identifying and implementing trusted technologies that will help you achieve your goals.
From there, you and your payments provider can begin to craft the ultimate omnicommerce experience for your customers. Don’t feel like you have to buy every single piece at once. Instead, a better starting point is to share your long-term goals and current system capabilities with your payments expert.
In fact, having that information early on makes it easier for a payments provider to properly advise you on systems that will be able to scale up and adapt to the changes you’ll be making over time. In short, don’t settle for a new POS system or e-commerce platform that is good enough for today. Select one that will enable you to grow and add additional capabilities when the opportunities arise in the future.
While You’re Waiting, Someone Else Is Building
With the lines blurring between brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and mobile in-app purchasing, a payment isn’t simply about exchanging cash. It’s about customer experiences, faster checkout lines and above all, building customer loyalty. Omnicommerce will mean different things for different types of businesses, but creating the right experience for your customers should be at the forefront of your business’ long-term plans. If you can’t deliver the experience that omniconsumers require when, where and how they want it, you may miss out.