Enabling a great commerce experience can be a daunting task for merchants as the year 2019 passes the halfway mark.
Form factors and payments methods are proliferating. So, too, are shopping channels, devices that connect to them and contexts in which buying something is now an option.
And then there is the increasing pressure for merchants to deliver a seamless payment experience for a consumer who will accept nothing less when on a shopping journey.
Not surprisingly then, what Visa hears most often from its acquiring and merchant partners, Carleigh Jaques, Visa’s senior vice president and global head of digital merchant products, told Karen Webster, is the need for a better way to manage the complexity that can enable that simple, elegant — and now essential — omnichannel consumer experience.
“What we have been seeing and hearing from our merchants is they want to recognize and serve a customer across any channel they shop in order to deliver a differentiated, personalized experience,” Jaques said. “Most can’t do that on their own and need help.”
That’s not, she said, for a lack of solutions that hold out the promise to make that experience accessible. But there is a dearth of solutions that don’t require the need for a complex IT integration to “stitch together” that multichannel experience from the myriad of payments environments that merchants support today.
Filling that void was the motivation behind Visa’s announcement Wednesday (July 17) to acquire PayWorks, a Munich-based payment gateway for the point of sale (POS). The plan is to fully integrate the PayWorks cloud-based processing solutions with Visa’s CyberSource digital payment management platform and large acquirer base. The plan is to offer a single-point of integration for acquirers, merchants and payment service providers who want to simplify the complexity of offering a unified commerce experience to merchants and consumers.
The secret sauce, Jaques said, is PayWorks’ cloud-based infrastructure which makes that single integration to that unified commerce experience possible.
She emphasized that PayWorks’ architecture is complementary with that of CyberSource — which was a big selling point. That’s what, she said, made it relatively easy to create a single platform that can offer acquirers and merchants a fully white-labeled omnichannel payment management platform that can flex as the commerce experience continues to evolve.
“We view unified commerce as fundamentally becoming mainstream,” Jaques noted. “Now is the time to create the tools to make it accessible as well.”
The Future: Proofing At Scale
Time, tide and consumers wait for no man — which means that merchants and acquirers want experiences that work today and create the foundation for those that may emerge tomorrow. That, Jaques said, is challenging, because seeing around the corners in an industry that is so dynamic can be challenge even a few months out, much less a few years or more.
Some of the innovative paths forward, Jaques noted, can be relatively straightforward to anticipate — adding form factors, or making a click-and-collect experience faster. But creating a platform that is future-proofed, she noted, also means building in general flexibility so that when something new surfaces, it can be easily added and then pushed out across all those consumer touchpoints — at scale.
Visa, Jaques noted, is focused on serving a broad base of acquirers and merchants, so the single integration is designed to be a global experience. Merchants with a global business will be able to see from a single point their business across multiple acquirers and enable that seamless consumer experience, she said.
While the integrated cross-channel payments capability of CyberSource and PayWorks is up and running in the U.S., U.K. and France today — the goal is to quickly move the capability global.
Jaques told Webster that creating an omnichannel experience is not only the most commonly heard request at Visa, but a reality born in the data: 94 percent of retailers report that an omnichannel fulfillment strategy is one of their company’s top priorities; 58 percent of shoppers say they have ordered online and picked up in store; and 37 percent of shoppers make additional in-store purchases when they fetch their online purchases.
Regardless of the label used to describe it, an omnichannel or unified commerce experience will become table stakes and consumers are going to seek out those merchants with the best experiences.
“If you are hampered by traditional infrastructure — it will be easy to be left behind,” Jaques noted.