Seamless Payments: A Thing of Beauty

The pursuit of beauty could be called universal, but how people want to pay for it varies locally. To bridge legions of buyers and sellers scattered across the globe, fully-loaded payments platforms are getting this done for global brands operating in far-flung geographies.

Discussing the finer points of selling globally and settling locally, PYMNTS’ Karen Webster welcomed PayU CEO Mario Shiliashki and Marcus Fogel, senior director global digital services at Oriflame Cosmetics, to look at scaling seamless payments one locality at a time.

Describing Oriflame as a social selling company, Fogel noted that its natural beauty and wellness products are now sold in more than 60 countries by nearly 3 million independent sellers, with roughly 100,000 transactions per day — 98% of them online.

Under its business model, Oriflame grants sellers a 21-day credit window to order, distribute and collect payment before taking their commission and giving Oriflame its cut.

However, he made the point that Oriflame isn’t a payments company or an issuer of credit, strictly speaking, which is where the partnership with PayU comes in.

As Fogel said, “Over the past few years, we have gone from no online payments at all to about 40% of our total business being paid online. Most of this is done through one of our global payment partners like PayU.”

“We provide the service of having every payment method available to the distributors or partners of Oriflame,” Shiliashki said. The key is providing the best local experience possible.

Webster countered with the complexity of 60 markets and 3 million sellers, and Shiliashki said, “That’s the point. The ability for Oriflame to provide a seamless payment experience to any of their customers or end consumers through the same integration that they have with us in any market that we serve is ultimately what we … do.”

To drive approval rates higher, data sharing between the PayU and Oriflame platforms is a critical part of the game, Shiliashki said, and giving buyers the option to check out using every payment option directly on the site is a big part to that.

It’s mission critical for an operation like Oriflame, Fogel said: “It’s one global platform, but each market out of our 60 markets is one local instance.

“So, we always operate locally in local currency with local language on the website, local delivery options, and this is then where we see that it’s really important to maintain the local relevance, especially when it comes to payment methods and delivery options.”

See also: Chief Product Officers Turning to Digital Payments, Localization to Boost Conversion

High-Value Payment Methods of Choice

Always at the heart of platform dynamics, efficiency and a single view of the payments stream across regions and currencies represent a huge lift that brands are outsourcing more and more.

Fogel said that with PayU, Oriflame steers clear of having to integrate hundreds and hundreds of different payment methods itself — which would take too much time and cost too much money. A platform, by contrast, can make the whole process seamless and invisible, a critical component of ensuring a great customer experience that the two say is a bit different for direct sellers than for consumers.

Shiliashki said to serve the Oriflame buyer properly, “A key element is ensuring that each and every payment method is up and running all the time, but also we have the right reconciliation for the transaction to make sure that Marcus knows that the money we say they have in their virtual account is the money that is going to come to them.”

Saying this complex process is often “trivialized,” Shiliashki made the point that a myriad of payment methods with different settlement cycles and different ways to reconcile the transactions are best combined “into a single platform with a seamless merchant dashboard.”

Shiliashki said that’s ultimately the fundamental complexity PayU is looking to over-simplify for customers — in the background, there is a lot of investment in tools, security, integrations and more.

The intricacies of this are evident even in Oriflame’s home base of Sweden, where peer-to-peer payments are used more commonly than in many other countries. Since the company tends to handle a lot of low-ticket transactions rather than a few large ones, Fogel said, not scaling cost proportionally with volume is critically important.

Local Relevance and Cost

It’s not hard finding cross-border payment methods, Fogel added.

“The difficulty lies in acting in a local fashion in local currency without FX exposure, which is very costly,” Fogel said, “and that will enable us to maintain efficiency in those markets where we operate, at the same time offering a relevant, safe payments portfolio to our brand partners.”

Read more: FinTech PayU Rolls out Credit Payments in Romania

Localization and Customization

As to how consumer apps and mammoth trends like mobile shopping fit into the business model and payments flow of a multinational social selling business like Oriflame, Shiliashki says there can still be confusion about what is and isn’t a payment method.

That’s the kind of thing platforms like PayU make easier to manage for firms like Oriflame.

Giving an example of this, Shiliashki said, “When it comes to consumer apps that have payments within them in local markets, to us, that’s a payment method: a consumer app that provides a payment embedded into that that people will pay through.”

That requires selectivity on the payment platform’s part, he added, as integrating “new payment methods costs money. We need to be on our front foot to make sure that the newest startup in any market is actually here to stay and not disappearing in a few months.

“But ensuring we have all relevant payment methods in every market builds not just better approval rates, but also loyalty between us and our partners.”

While concluding on key success factors for operating on multiple markets with different business models to create and to optimize the digital experience for both the brand and the consumer, Marcus highlighted the importance of maintaining a global approach as much as possible, including UX, the checkout process, registration and product offering.

The same goes not only for payments, but also for delivery methods, depending on the accessibility or the availability of various local options. Taking a global approach while giving the best local experience possible gives brands a competitive edge over others and helps them maintain relevance in specific markets.

“If we can operate in a pretty much identical way in most areas, then we can focus our customization or localization efforts where needed,” he said. “In our case, where I see it’s needed is, for example, payments — where we said it’s really important to be locally relevant while also maintaining a global platform in order not to just explode in terms of maintenance efforts and costs required.”