Blake Whitson, vice president, payments and global customer support at Brainly, and Andy McHale, senior director, product and market strategy at Spreedly, told PYMNTS that payments orchestration can make all the difference in the world of eCommerce, in pursuit of scale and boosting authorization rates.
As platforms and apps look to expand their reach into new markets, they must contend with the demand for local payment methods, and alternative payment methods, too, along with a streamlined checkout experience. They want to see the currencies and digital wallets — even BNPL — that they’re used to using on a daily basis.
From Whitson’s perspective, there are two sets of challenges in place. On the one hand, there’s the challenge of offering a broad but tailored range of payment options to users, across Brainly’s homework help platform, on a market-by-market basis.
But, added Whitson, for Brainly and other companies, there are internal challenges in doing so, no matter if a firm pursues a merchant or record model or local partnerships:
“When you’re looking at international payments,” he said, “you’re looking at conversion rates and how you want to optimize those rates.” For companies working with several payment service providers in a given market, the integrations and updates — even if they take place only every few months — can be costly and time-consuming.
“We have to make sure that we’re balancing having the payment method that a customer wants,” said Whitson, “with the integration and maintenance and complexity of the ecosystem.”
He noted that it’s also difficult to get “good” data across multiple payment service providers (PSPs) to make the best payments decisions as payments cross the globe. Individual PSPs have different versions of reporting, conversion rate calculations and how they classify and code declines.
“It’s difficult to manage all that data,” he said.
McHale added that payments orchestration has made headway to solve those aforementioned challenges.
Orchestration, which involves the process of facilitating routing and activities across several providers, can help determine “which pieces fit where … and [client firms] don’t have to manage 15 things by themselves,” he said.
Orchestration can have its own complexities, given the fact that platforms such as Spreedly must adapt to whether clients are digital goods merchants or marketplaces, or where omnichannel commerce is a significant contributor to business.
Asked by PYMNTS how the joint relationship between Spreedly and Brainly has helped the latter’s business, Whitson said that orchestration has standardized the integration points in Brainly’s website.
“We end up in a place where we use the same basic checkout flow and the same basic API calls on our end, whether we’re checking out in U.S. or whether we’re checking out in Brazil,” he said. “And [that] allows us to be able to really focus on making sure that that customer experience and customer journey is uniform and consistent and easy to use,” because on the backend “we’re passing through the same form with the same data everywhere.”
That means using, for example, one PSP for cards, and a separate one for Apple Pay and Google Pay. Regional payment preferences in Europe are different than those that are popular in Latin America, and demand different PSP linkups. Likewise, banks have different requirements on recurring billing and subscription reporting.
Whitson and McHale noted that intelligent routing — which chooses the optimal path for transactions and can “retry” failed ones — can recover otherwise lost revenues and boost authorization rates. A PSP may be out of service, in an example, and trying alternative rails can lead to transaction success.
“You do get success and uplift from changing PSP for the same authorizations,” Whitson said.
Those ultimately successful retries, McHale added, can keep consumers loyal to a merchant (even though the declines are actually tied to issuing banks).
In the year ahead, said Whitson, Brainly will be examining the potential of network tokenization as a way to boost authorization rates.
As McHale said of orchestration, “we see customers go through that crawl, walk, run phase of getting integrated, getting transactions going,” and then move toward vaulting, which improves lifecycle management by keeping payment credentials updated.
“Without knowing all the ins and outs of payment nuances,” he said of his company’s client firms, “the platform can step in and provide value to the merchants, sub merchants and customers.”