This is no longer a unichannel world — where consumers engage with merchants online or offline, during store hours and never on Sunday. When it comes to shopping, individuals want all access, all the time, across several channels. The rewards can be significant for merchants taking the leap into omnichannel, but then so can the challenges — chiefly in the form of complexity in processing those payments.
Last month, payments processor Vantiv launched its OnDemand Payments suite, which seeks to streamline complexity through a single dashboard that cuts across all channels.
In an interview with Ned Canning, senior product manager at Vantiv, PYMNTS delved into the seamless omnicommerce experience.
In discussing the OnDemand offering, Canning told PYMNTS the focus has been on traditional card-present, as well as card-not-present, merchants, offering “that kind of wide swath of products” embracing multiple access points and devices stretching across a single payment processing experience.
“The reality of what we’ve seen from our merchant base and industry-wide and what has been the definition of omnichannel is blurring beyond a typical online/offline acquisition and retention strategy,” said Canning.
He noted that new devices are available every day, so a merchant offering a web property or a native application with, for example, a “buy through Alexa” option can be considered multichannel. Thus, merchants are no longer relying on one channel or integration support capability. But through OnDemand, he said, Vantiv products are being offered to merchants in such a way that they are interactive with each other.
As for insight into buying activity, the company offers analytics across a single platform that are being fed by a merchant, retail and online channel, Canning said. “If they are operating a native application for mobile customers and process a payment,” he said, “we can tie payment activity back to that same consumer in a retail environment with that same consumer if they came in and bought an item in stores. We’re offering, with additional security, a single view of the customer and all the relative details that go into that consumer’s personal preferences and buying habits.” Pre-purchase behavior, once Vantiv authenticates a cardholder through their account numbers, the company can offer data points and insights related to the card products being used, regardless of whether the card was swiped in-store or entered online.
This allows the merchant to add upsell capabilities and options for incremental sales in-store or online, said Canning, or tag customer profiles with certain attributes, such as affluence, spending habits or card usage, to adjust downstream marketing activities.
“We’ve seen very strong traction primarily in retail and QSRs for several different reasons,” the executive told PYMNTS. The retailers need to expand their coverage, said Canning, to increase the number of traditional customer touchpoints. This could be in an environment where a retailer’s bright spot is in eCommerce sales growth even while brick-and-mortar sales are static. With the seamless convergence of touchpoints and information, the merchant expands the lifetime value of that customer. QSRs have been embracing mobile initiatives to boost digital channel returns and ease payments and loyalty programs geared toward consumers, translating into boosted returns on ticket sizes in certain windows of daily activity.
Vantiv’s OmniToken was among the firm’s first reactions to “what we’re seeing in our existing merchant base and prospect base, where omnichannel merchants are operating across multiple different environments … Once you have that single customer identifier,” he said, “the technology exercise we see a lot of these merchants going through is breaking down the silos between traditionally parallel systems that have been operating and optimized through particular channels.”
Thus, retail systems that have been adapted over time to fit only in-store processes, said Canning, have their own technologies housing data sets, and the same can be said about digital channels. The merchants have been trying to tie the two channels and their information caches together. The continued investment in integrated systems offers what Canning called “a single source of truth” on customers and where the returns on such data [via Vantiv OnDemand] show that “one plus one is a little more than two.”