Multichannel, cross-channel, omnichannel and now unified commerce?
Today, more than ever, customers set the pace for their own consumption. Merchants need to adapt to these new behaviors by offering increasingly personalized shopping experiences and payment solutions. Consumers are looking for a business that revolves around them, blurring the boundaries between online, mobile and in-store. In short, unified commerce, facilitated by unified payment.
Commerce, digital, customer experience… all these concepts are developing at breakneck speed, and bring with them their own set of terms and jargons. To fully understand unified commerce and its impact on payment, it’s essential to go back to the origins of these terminologies, which are often confused and misused.
- Multichannel means offering customers a range of different channels, each acting independently of the others. This includes simple online or in-store purchases, for example.
- With cross-channel, the merchant adapts to the customer’s buying path and behavior, by making the company’s different points of contact work together. Store-to-web (try in-store, then order online) is a perfect illustration of this concept.
- Finally,omnichannel goes even further, encouraging the simultaneous use of all available contact points to deliver a seamless, fluid shopping experience anywhere, anytime. It’s no longer a question of proposing the same offer everywhere, but according to the specificities of customer contact points. This is particularly true of the Click&Collect system, which needs no introduction.
Unified commerce comes into play at this stage, as an extension of omnichannel. Its objective : to coordinate contact points as much as possible to guarantee a seamless customer experience, whatever the channel. With a synoptic view of all customer information, unified commerce takes the concept of customer experience to the extreme.
What about payment?
These methods have a direct impact on payment processes, and unified commerce is no exception. This is called unified payment. Payment channels become vectors of customer recognition, enabling merchants to benefit from a global view of their customers’ activity – in short, a 360° vision. Transaction history, purchase frequency, dematerialized payment methods, payment attempts, average shopping baskets… All this information from different channels is centralized in a single interface. For merchants, this data is the key to delivering a smooth, personalized customer experience. Unified payment and the associated customer recognition can be strategic levers for increasing sales and adapting sales and loyalty methods.
A single, centralized platform for merchants
Changing payment behaviors (mobile payment, One-Click, Scan&Pay, Self-CheckOut…), the complexity of new purchasing paths (Click&Collect, e-reservation…), customer volatility, as well as strong European payment regulations(DSP2) are the reasons driving companies to unify their payment processes.
For a merchant, unified payment requires an inclusive, centralized payment solution to all its channels in real time. Implementing it therefore requires organizational and commercial restructuring, as well as technological restructuring to track and interact with customers throughout their purchasing journey. According to Natalie Echinard, Director of Business Retail at Cegid : ” The aim is to converge all the uses of unified commerce on the same digital platform : click & collect, store to home, loyalty management…. “. However, while interest in these new solutions is growing, there’s still a long way to go before all companies adopt a truly unified commerce environment.
To support companies in their transition to unified payment, CentralPay offers a payment solution centered on customer knowledge. With the help of an appropriate payment solution and secure customer accounts, each transaction is automatically associated with a customer ID, so that merchants can continually build up their customer knowledge base across all sales channels (online, physical, remote or mobile). By identifying customers through their bank cards, merchants gain an overview of customer activity, facilitating strategic and operational decision-making and the implementation of loyalty systems.
At CentralPay, we support you in digitizing or optimizing your payment processes, to help you imagine the purchasing paths of tomorrow.