As shiny new devices (and new ways to pay) pop up in the market and consumers jump to get their hands on them, merchant challenges are evolving. According to omnichannel and inventory management solution provider SecureNet, 64 percent of merchants with sales over $5 million claim that inventory control is a large issue. At the same time, 45 percent of merchants state that taking a purchase in one channel and processing a return in another is critical to customer satisfaction.
Changing consumer behavior is pressing merchants to come up with omnichannel solutions, but there is often a gaping hole between shoppers’ expectations and what merchants can actually deliver.
“It’s time to start worrying less about what processors and merchants can deliver and more on what consumers want,” said SecureNet CEO Brent Warrington in an interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster. “It all comes back to technology.”
WHY THE FOCUS ON OMNICHANNEL?
When Warrington first joined SecureNet, the “architectural stack” and the underlying DNA needed for multichannel was already there, he said. SecureNet had already been facilitating multichannel payments and mPOS since 2007, and with “a mix of fate, fortune, and perseverance,” the omnichannel and inventory management capabilities grew.
Through a single API, said Warrington, SecureNet can now provide complete freedom to merchants to move seamlessly in a multichannel environment. Merchants therefore don’t have to pause their business in any way to implement the solution.
“Merchants say they’re multichannel – but what does that really mean?” he added. “They can provide multichannel solutions…big deal. Our platform is built on a data model, and we have perfected what I call the ‘smart transaction’ – we’re able to wrap 50 elements of data around every single transaction. It’s completely user-defined.”
This smart transaction has two functions: it can provide data in real-time back to the merchants in the form of business intelligence, and on the backend, it makes it easy for SecureNet’s partners and their customers to “customize their reconciliation around these transactions through multiple channels,” said Warrington. The solution is synchronized, meaning if someone buys online, the transaction is automatically available via the terminal or mPOS device.
But the company also took a step further, he said, with its broad and feature-rich inventory management solution. Now, they can match the inventory to the actual transaction, so when someone buys a good or service online, that can be instantly reflected across the enterprise within the terminal or mPOS solution.
“Customers get the benefit of seamless payments, as well as the benefit of seamless inventory synchronization, all driven off the payment network,” said Warrington.
WHAT CONSUMERS REALLY WANT
What consumers really want, noted Webster, is a shopping history across all channels, too. For example, they want a Nordstrom sales associate in the store to know what has been purchased online, in-store, and every other way. That’s the hard part, she said. Consumers, because they move so fluidly between these channels with their devices, don’t understand the barriers that stores have in following along.
“We believe that the consumer has become the point of sale,” said Warrington in response. “Because of that, our platform captures all of that data at the consumer level, completely synchronized and in real-time, regardless of where or how the consumer is shopping.”
That same purchase experience follows consumers into the retail store. At the consumer level, he said, SecureNet can drive that seamless way for consumers to move online and in-store. At the platform level, because this skew-level cloud-based data all flows through one “stack,” SMBs have a way to obtain the data via the company dashboard.
“You can be anywhere in the world and see who’s buying what, when, where, how they’re buying, who your best customers are, how channels are performing by location,” said Warrington. “As we move upstream, we make all of that data available via a single API back to enterprises.”
HOW RETAILERS USE MULTICHANNEL CAPABILITIES
Retailers today all want multichannel capabilities, but they simply can’t afford them, said Warrington. Even the largest retailers are “scratching their heads” trying to figure it out – and while some have, some still haven’t. There is a lot of heavy lifting involved, and retailers are not only thinking about perfecting and simplifying multichannel, but also about “the fire downstream.” SMBs and mid-sized businesses, for example, all want to be like Nordstrom, said Warrington.
“The only way for them to do that is by using a simple, fast solution with a single API,” he said. “We give them an easy way to ease into multichannel.” In addition, he noted that his company believes in continuing to help brick and mortar merchants move online.
But the Holy Grail of multichannel, he said, is being able to create a turnkey synchronized environment that allows consumers to move seamlessly, return goods, and buy goods, as well as provide a rich history that takes the pain out of returning items and putting them back in inventory. It also creates the ability for merchants to run their businesses better.
THE TOP THREE FACTORS FOR OMNICHANNEL SUCCESS
There are three things that merchants need to focus on in order to ensure omnichannel success, according to Warrington:
1) Simplification: A merchant of any size has to remain focused and diligent on the desired consumer experience, versus becoming enamored with shiny technology. It’s easy to get lost among integrations and gateways. Finding the right solution that fits customers’ needs while doing everything through a single API makes that bridge easy.
2) Security: It’s a plus when an omnichannel solution provider owns its platform end-to-end, tokenizes at the point of sale, and never exchanges tokens within their ecosystem. And after the Target and Home Depot breaches, merchants can create a number of vulnerabilities in finding a multichannel approach. Therefore, they need to focus on what security is, said Warrington, as well as “understand what P2PE is, what the tokens are, what happens to them, who they’re exchanged with, and who has access to a given payment ecosystem.”
3) Synchronization: “Multichannel without synchronization is not multichannel – it’s just a fragmented experience that will cause frustration,” explained Warrington. “Just because you offer online and offline capabilities doesn’t mean you’re succeeding in the omnichannel experience.” Breaking down the challenges of synchronization with a simple, streamlined end-to-end platform, while also being able to have a merchant up and running within an hour, is, to Warrington, what defines multichannel.
Brent Warrington, CEO of SecureNet, has two decades of experience in the commerce and payments industries. As the head of SecureNet's leadership team, Brent develops and executes the company's growth initiatives and market expansion strategy.
Prior to joining SecureNet, Brent served on several successful executive management teams in the payments industry. Brent spent seven years as CEO of online banking startup FundsXpress Inc., which was acquired by First Data Corporation, where Brent served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of ePayments. Brent was also Vice President of Marketing for Great American Insurance Company, where he developed industry-leading comprehensive online and offline marketing strategies.
Brent's prior speaking engagements include the Electronic Transaction Association's Strategic Leadership Forum 2013, Money 2020 2013, William Blair 2013, Goldman Sachs 2012 and several eCommerce, online banking and financial services conferences.
When Brent finds a rare moment away from the office he can be found at his Texas ranch, likely planning his next hunting or fishing expedition.
For more on SecureNet’s “seamless” omnichannel and inventory management solution, click here.