Omnichannel is a term often used in the payments industry to identify the multifaceted ways in which consumers shop and interact with retailers. No longer do folks simply go to the store, or shop online or make call to initiate purchases. In some cases, it’s a mix of all of the above.
Moreover, the technology consumers use to shop also is evolving. What may have been a card swipe in the past may be a tap today, or what might have been facilitated on a PC now might be done on a tablet or smartphone – or through all three as part of a process. Shoppers also might get advice on products to buy from folks they don’t even know via social media site.
In a new whitepaper “Omni-Integration Imperatives: Reaching the Omniconsumer,” Vantiv outlines how the process often works, taking a fictional consumer through his day to illustrate how conducting commerce can occur in today’s omnichannel environment. The two companies plan to host a noon ET webinar on June 4th to take participants even deeper into explaining how omnichannel shopping works and what key players in the industry can do to stay tuned to consumers’ evolving commerce needs.
"The industry has been talking about omnicommerce, but in this year’s Vantiv/Mercator research, we see that it is quickly becoming a reality,” Daniela Mielke, Vantiv chief strategy officer, said in the white paper. “Customers have high expectations for the omnicommerce experience, and merchants and financial institutions are working to integrate channels to deliver that experience."
HOW OMNICONSUMERS WORK: THE OMNICOMMERCE EXPERIENCE
As omnicommerce takes hold, it is also giving rise to omniconsumers who want to take full advantage of all channels. The white paper provides an example of how such consumers’ experiences might look:
The paper begins by “John” being awakened by his shaking wristband. At 7:30 a.m., he is in front of his computer to begin the process of buying a jacket before going to work. After looking over reviews from others, he buys the coat for pick up at the store later in the day. To access his train ride to the office, John waves his smartphone at a small reader. On the train ride, he uses a tablet to make dinner reservations later that night with his aunt and uncle. Walking from the train station, John buys coffee by scanning a QR code with his phone.
At 10:30 a.m., while on a break, John uses his tablet computer to buy concert tickets online using a prepaid card. While online, he also pre-orders lunch, which he’ll pick up ready at noon. A short time later, he gets a text from his bank that the paperwork for his car loan is complete and needs signing, and he arranges a 12:15 p.m. appointment by phone with the banker.
At noon while at the bank, John finishes his loan paperwork and stops at an ATM to withdraw cash but later finds the deli where he ordered lunch will allow him to use a payment card. While eating his lunch back at the office, John uses his mobile app to check his prepaid card balance. He calls the bank after seeing a problem transaction to get it straightened out. After a coworker drops off a check repaying a small loan, John uses his phone to deposit the check into his account.
At 5:30, after work, John walks to the store to get the jacket he ordered earlier in the day. The clerk uses a tablet to help him find what he wants from the back room inventory. John then uses his smartphone to compare shoe prices online and offline at other retailers, and decides to order from a different store where they are 20 percent less. When the clerk returns, John swipes his card through the tablet to pay for his coat without having to stay in checkout line.
At 6:30, John uses his smartphone to locate a nearby taxi and pays for the ride at the restaurant where he’s meeting his aunt and uncle for dinner. He tries to pick up the bill, but his uncle says he has half-off coupons on his phone and wants to pay. Splitting the bill, John’s uncle pays using the waiter’s tablet, and John uses his phone to make a person-to-person payment from his checking account to his uncle’s checking account.
Later on, at 10 p.m., John is back at his home computer making his rent payment from his checking account. He later sees an ad for a new camera while watching TV on his computer. John scans a QR code on the TV screen that takes him to a website offering the camera. When he can’t find the promotional price on his phone, he goes back to computer to find the offer. When he still has problems with the purchase at checkout, he turns to Facebook to complain about his experience.
At 10:30, John signs on to another retailer’s webpage to order the camera using his credit card. During the flawless process, he is asked if he would like to register for the retailer’s credit card. Doing so would give him an immediate discount and a chance to earn loyalty points, so he accepts the offer. When a message sent to his phone alerts John his credit card bill is due, he quickly uses his mobile app to pay the bill from his checking account. His digital day is over.
NOT THERE YET
John’s day seems practical in today’s omnicommerce environment. But, depending on with whom the consumer is interacting, it may not work all that smoothly.
"We’re at a point where merchants, financial institutions, and consumers have signed on to the omnicommerce vision,” Elizabeth Rector, Vantiv general manager of merchant services and mobile products, notes in the report. “They can see the value of consistency and ease of navigation across channels. But the merchants and the financial institutions also see what it is going to take to get there – and it’s not easy."
Most merchants and financial institutions will need to move ahead gradually and prioritize their investments and efforts, the report notes, and consumers in many ways, are leading the way. As companies develop strategies, the omniconsumer perspective can provide valuable insight.
Companies can start by understanding where their customers are with omnicommerce, where they want to go, and what will motivate them to work with them. To learn more on how to get this done, click the button below to participate in Vantiv’s June 4th Insights webinar.