While there are many reasons why small merchants should be able to take digital and online payments — including better conversion rates, wider exposure to a bigger audience and better data about consumers — Dusty Gomez, SMB product leader at Vantiv, says it all comes down to one main idea: The consumer lifestyle is evolving to a point where customers are constantly on the go.
“This is something that we have seen coming, but it is now having major effects in the market. Customers, no matter where they are shopping, expect things to happen quickly,” Gomez said. ”The idea of going into a store and purchasing something is becoming increasingly daunting to the average customer.”
Despite that reality — and the undeniable waves of growth coming in commerce from mobile and digital channels — SMBs remain somewhat stubbornly late in adopting when it comes to jumping into the digital-commerce revolution. The stats, Gomez noted, are daunting.
“Forty-six percent of SMBs don’t even have a website, let alone the capacity to take payments online,” Gomez said. “To me, that is staggering given the major shifts we have seen in consumer engagement demand.”
From Vantiv’s point of view these changes aren’t anything new: This has been a building change in consumer behavior over the last 10 years, and SMBs can read the writing on the wall.
“To stay relevant and compete with the Amazons of the world, they need to be able to offer this kind of technology. It is why the number one thing we are hearing from small merchants is that they need help taking payments on their website,” Gomez said. “They know it is important, but they have no idea how to do it.”
And, she noted, in some cases they need to be walked through a process that, despite the opportunities involved, can also be filled with challenges.
The good news — and one of the better selling points of eCommerce, Gomez noted — is that it can open a merchant up to a world of new customers outside their geographic area. That is a big — and compelling — opportunity. But the downside to that opportunity is risk: Merchants also now face the reality of international digital fraud.
“On the heels of the EMV shift we’ve heard from merchants is just how much fraudsters have moved online. It is a very big concern,” Gomez said. “Our teams do a good job of helping educate merchants so they understand that online payments acceptance can be as free from fraud, with card data protected as well, as in-store payments. There are many ways to help merchants understand that online payment can be as secure, if not more secure, than an in-store payment.”
Small merchants, she noted, don’t have a full grasp on what things like tokenization really are or mean, which can be intimidating for merchants.
“It’s the same reason consumers can be scared to put their debit card in a wallet that sits on their phone. People don’t want to be hacked. Merchants feel the same way,” Gomez said.
The key, she noted, is not just building better tools — Vantiv has a rather robust arsenal of anti-fraud and data security weaponry — it’s about education. Educating merchants about those tools, and what they do, is important for merchants to understand their possible role in protecting them and evaluating the benefits and costs of investments.
Building for the Future
Payments have never been a simple world, but in the past it was fairly straightforward: Cash, check or card were pretty much the universe of options. These days, with an ever-increasing proliferation of payment options, merchants are having to think about payments and make more strategic decisions every day.
“That’s something we see small merchants get intimidated by. They don’t know if they’re accepting all the right options, or if they can accept them in-store and online. This is not simple. We want to simplify it. We want every merchant to be aware of all options so they consider the payment methods right for them. We want to take worry out of their hands.”
Because the payments market is going to continue to evolve and what is around today won’t be the same landscape merchants will be facing in 18 months, some players will have dropped out and new ones will emerge.
But from Vantiv’s point of view, the point of view of the merchants they serve, the point is keeping the decision process simple so moving to digital and electronic payments seems like a natural evolution and not an intimidating decision.