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Enterprise Retail / Omnichannel Commerce

The ‘Omni-Shopper'

Editorial Board
Executive Summary
Rapid consumer adoption of digital technology is changing the way Europeans shop.

Consumers can now access more channels, payment types, buying opportunities, and rewards than ever before.

European shoppers are increasingly breaking free of “linear” customer journeys that start and end either online or in store. As an alternative, they're beginning to forge their own unique pathways, mixing digital services with physical experiences to connect more closely with their favourite retail brands.

That means, to secure consumer loyalty, it’s no longer enough to simply offer stand-alone retail services like isolated e-commerce, mobile, or MOTO platforms. Reaching omni-shoppers requires more than a broad service portfolio; a truly fluid customer experience requires services to be joined seamlessly. That means unified platforms and connected devices that effortlessly link all a merchant’s branded channels so that consumers can explore and create their own highly personalized experiences.

85 %
of Euro retailer strategy is driven by customer demand

When evolving their payment strategies, the first thing retailers have to understand is that multichannel and omnichannel are not the same thing. Multiple channels can include physical stores, online, MOTO, mobile, and social. Although they may have the same branding and carry the same merchandise, these different channels have usually evolved separately, over a period of time, and consequently run on separate systems.

Multichannel payments may also be processed on different platforms, using their own transaction paths and gateways. While there may be some degree of integration, linking back office and CRM functions can be very difficult, giving rise to an isolated or siloed approach to operations and marketing. As a result, customers can be left frustrated by inconsistent experiences, lack of personalization, and cumbersome processes, depending on which channel they use.

Omni-channel, on the other hand, offers the same multiple channel options but ensures sales and services on each are fully integrated to give retailers a seamless approach across their operations. Infrastructure is often shared, making systems easier and the consumer experience frictionless. The retailer has a holistic view of the shopper and a comprehensive understanding of their preferences and habits. As a result, they can personalize the experience for them, based on behavior patterns across all the retailer’s different channels.

Multichannel and omnichannel are not the same thing.

Although shoppers are hungry for new omnichannel services, retailers can struggle to deliver them within tight timelines and have difficulty scaling to keep pace with demand. Building a seamless consumer experience is a complex process that takes time, investment, and vision. Commerce development often has to extend further than just payment to include operations, merchandising, and marketing functions.

It also requires unified platforms encompassing gateways that manage both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar transactions to multimedia-enabled and connected in-store payment devices that drive consumer engagement.

While facilitating transactions and services across channels is complex, the solutions need not be. The latest payments technology, combined with new approaches to outsourcing and integration, is providing retailers with dedicated omnichannel solutions designed to help integrate payments across the physical and virtual world. This allows easy delivery of a seamless customer experience. The most important of these are PaaS, omnichannel gateways, mobile solutions, and interactive POS.

Many retailers are turning to “payments as a service” platforms that bundle payment devices, software, professional and gateway services, security, estate management, and reporting into one easy-to-deploy solution for physical and e-commerce environments. On top of that, it provides a single supply point. All these help to reduce costs, avoid obsolescence, minimize PCI scope, and can provide consolidated reporting and real-time monitoring across all multichannel operations. This leaves retailers free to focus on customer throughput and revenue generation.

Next-generation payments services also include advanced gateways designed to facilitate multiple channels and payment types. These incorporate mobile as well as traditional internet platforms and provide APIs and flexible toolkits for new development of future services such as Apple Pay. They also offer online reporting for a holistic view and real-time status on transactions across all channels.

Using tablets and smart devices in store can help unite channels and bring digital services to the customer at the point of purchase. The mPOS, which helps queue-bust and prevent walkaways, can be combined with customer-facing apps that help upsell, stock and price check and order online. Using NFC/CTLS, these can also facilitate new highly personalized and targeted services like beacons and clienteling, and build mobile loyalty and rewards schemes.

As retailers seek new ways to engage with the digital consumer and “glue” their physical and virtual worlds together, NFC/CTLS-enabled POS devices complete with touch-enabled multimedia screens as well as iPad retailing and mPOS solutions will help drive new services at the POS. These new smart tools connect directly to the internet in order to deliver everything from stock searches and price checks to mobile vouchers, loyalty, and personalized promotions.