Before shelling out the cash to make a purchase, there are several devices that consumers may use to help them make a decision. They might decide to use a specific store’s mobile app on their smartphones, or visit the store’s website on a tablet or computer, or perhaps just pick up the phone and call customer service to ask a question. Whatever the case, “omnichannel” is an important buzzword for merchants. In a recent interview, CEO of Chase Merchant Services Mike Passilla told PYMNTS.com why merchants should be embracing these tools, offering us four ways they can ensure a seamless and secure retail experience to turn browsers into loyal buyers.
Step One: Ensure Channels Work Together
Recent studies show that even in historically single-channel retail sectors such as grocery, more than half of customers now use two or more channels before completing a purchase, said Passilla. Retailers must therefore offer both traditional and digital channels. However, before they invest in “the latest mobile-optimized website feature or app,” he said, retailers should learn how existing online and physical channels can together enhance the customer experience.
“A merchant’s website might encourage visitors to take advantage of a special event in-store, while sales assistants on the floor can use Wi-Fi enabled tablets to access additional product information,” said Passilla. “What customers value most is not the number of channels offered, but how these channels support each other.”
Step Two: Help Customers Find What They Want
“With Internet access ubiquitous, cost-conscious customers are just a click away from being able to compare prices and find special offers,” said Passilla. And many take out their smartphone or tablet in stores to compare prices, a trend called “Showrooming.”
Online retailers, he added, can take advantage of this trend by encouraging shoppers to compare prices in-store using a mobile app. In-store retailers, on the other hand, could “provide greater value through targeted offers, price match guarantees, expert advice, convenient delivery choices and personalized customer care.”
Step Three: Optimize The Checkout Experience
Businesses must be sure to have a quick, streamlined checkout process once they have converted an online browser into a customer, or else they risk facing “shopping cart abandonment.” This, said Passilla, can be done in a few steps:
1) Assess how the checkout experience can be customized for its customers. Keep the mandatory information required from new or first-time online or mobile shoppers to a minimum and shorten the process for returning customers by securely storing their payment details and other personal information.
2) Develop a dedicated mobile app or other innovative functions that can increase long-term satisfaction and loyalty.
3) Test different payment methods to find those that are most convenient for customers. These payment options may include paying with reward points, using a digital wallet or providing a digital ‘offer’ or coupon at checkout. There is a balance to be found between having additional payment methods to meet customer expectations and choosing methods appropriate to a merchant’s business model.
4) Establish a one-click online checkout process. Chase, for example, is currently developing a ‘Chase Wallet’ and ‘Quick Checkout’ solution. The Chase Wallet will allow customers to store and access their Chase cards and, ultimately, any branded card for a quick checkout. It will also update Chase-branded cards when a customer replaces an existing card and use tokenization to securely process payments with select merchants.
Merchants also face the challenge of ensuring that the online and in-store checkout experience is secure, while at the same time eliminating as many false positives as possible.
“False positives are a hindrance to any business as they may reduce sales, increase chargebacks and frustrate customers,” said Passilla. “A quick-checkout solution may help reduce false positives because customer information is automatically populated rather than manually keyed into the checkout page.”
Acquirers should also work with online retailers to provide a conditional approval code for a transaction, Passilla noted. This code allows the fulfilment process to move forward while authentication is taking place; the additional time for a thorough authentication also helps reduce the number of false positives.
Step Four: Use Data to Build Loyalty
Customers will likely return to a retailer if product marketing reflects their past purchases or interests, said Passilla. Therefore, taking advantage of data including a customer’s “purchasing history, loyalty, behavior or social media interests” may help retailers to better understand their customers as well as personalize their shopping experience.
According to a study released in March 2013, Chase Paymentech found that 32 percent of merchants use their payment data to help craft their multi-channel sales strategy, and 42 percent use it to improve the online customer experience. In addition, Passilla indicated that “further analysis of payment methods, chargeback rates, fraud rates and authorization rates” may improve the customer shopping experience and “drive overall profitability.”
Reaching the End Goal
Every retailer’s goal is to turn a visitor – online or in-store – into a loyal customer. It is therefore essential for businesses to ensure a secure, easy, seamless checkout experience. If they succeed, said Passilla, “today’s nimble multi-channel consumers are likely to become loyal customers tomorrow.”
Mike Passilla is CEO of Chase Merchant Services, the global payment processing, merchant acquiring and offers business for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The business unit, which can authorize payments in more than 130 currencies, provides some of the most well-known brands in the world with a full suite of unique payment, fraud, data security and loyalty solutions to help them grow their businesses. In 2013, Chase Paymentech, the payment processing and merchant acquiring arm of Chase Merchant Services, processed 35.6 billion transactions with a value of $750.1 billion. More information is available at www.chasepaymentech.com