The prefix “omni-” means “all or everywhere,” and it’s defining a new era in commerce. Businesses of every size are seeking ways to provide their customers with seamless, connected commerce. Retailers on the edge have been described for years as playing in “multichannel” or “omnichannel” retail—building brand, connecting communications and, increasingly, selling through multiple channels.
During Small Business Week, we decided to take a closer look at this new world of omnicommerce and what it means for small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) through 2017 and beyond. Seems omnicommerce is becoming omnipresent, and a new way small businesses are evolving to keep pace with, or get ahead of, large businesses.
We asked Ned Canning, Vantiv’s senior product manager for core innovation and eCommerce, about the stoking enthusiasm for omnicommerce, and where it might be headed in the future.
Q: What is omnicommerce?
The way business has been using the phrase has evolved since its inception. In the beginning, omnicommerce referred to a combination of strategies used by businesses that had both brick-and-mortar stores as well as eCommerce, which were used to get out promotions and establish a brand among consumers.
As mobile sales have moved to the forefront, however, the definition of omnicommerce continues to expand. It’s now a strategy that combines both online and offline engagement that allow businesses to offer a consistent and often on-demand consumer experience across numerous commerce channels and across numerous devices. As eCommerce takes over as the preferred source of buying, and as mobile devices are saying “move over” to the desktop and in-store experience, businesses are finding ways to make these experiences feel seamless, regardless of the location of the actual sale. That’s where omnicommerce is today, and it’s moving even more in that direction.
Q: What and who is driving omnicommerce demand?
In short, the evolution of mobile devices has been the driver behind the recent developments and demand for omnicommerce. The availability of advanced mobile technologies has prompted changes in consumer behavior. As mobile device capabilities expand, consumers are able to experience new consideration, buying and paying touchpoints that are just starting to be understood and used by businesses.
In addition, as mobile devices are used to solve customers’ problems, not just make purchases, businesses have the ability to incorporate new influences into customers’ daily lives. For example, if a local juice bar can provide nutritional advice and promotional discounts and info about their unique new smoothies, that brand now has new touchpoints––and new reasons––to reach that consumer.
Q: Where is omnicommerce headed?
Exceptional consumer experience is the reason for omnicommerce, and where it’s headed. Merchants and retailers of all sizes now understand the mobile world is a new way of life, solidified by younger, early-adopter consumers. For instance, if you take a look at where new cars are competing, it’s in the “connected car” arena, in order to cater to younger buyers who expect the experience of driving a car to be integrated seamlessly into their lives. I think we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible with omnicommerce. It’s where a lot of business innovation is occurring.
Q: Are there obstacles to the growth of omnicommerce?
Growth may be slightly tamped down by security and privacy concerns – especially as businesses use a multitude of touchpoints to reach consumers. However, younger consumers don’t seem bothered by this sharing of information when they feel a sense of loyalty to a brand. In fact, omnicommerce can make them feel “included” in the brand in a way that’s welcome. If the brand is not welcome to that consumer, omnicommerce may feel invasive. So, it’s not just about making the experience seamless, it’s also about building a relationship with customers.
Q: How does omnicommerce appeal to consumers?
The customer appeal is multi-faceted. And not surprising, when you think about it. First and foremost, the touchpoints of omnicommerce need to feel seamless. The desktop and mobile experience, together with the in-store experience should reinforce each other and be as similar as possible. Many more websites are now being built for mobile first, since mobile seems to be grabbing more and more sales away from other touchpoints. Second, the touchpoints should work together and create convenience for customers. Example: mobile or online ordering ahead of time for pick-up at a location––whether it be a coffeehouse, a mega-retail store or a favorite Chinese restaurant. This is where you can combine mobile payments, consumers, and commerce in a seamless way. The customer often pays ahead of time, then picks up onsite, and in the process the business solves a problem for the consumer: time constraints. Last, as data breach reports continue to rise and eclipse the industry, it’s essential that all of these connected touchpoints are secure.
Q: Are there security benefits to using mobile or web-based payments?
Simply put, yes. What the industry is seeing is that the flagship mobile payments standards are very convenient and secure. Many mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay® and Google’s Android Pay™ and Samsung Pay®, all have numerous layers of security built in. That said, cyber criminals are always on the move – just like technology. There will always be a need for ongoing innovation and effort when it comes to security as the industry expands and evolves.
Q: Which types of business are primed for omnicommerce?
Aside from retail, I would have to say quick service restaurants (QSRs) are great candidates. Starbucks, for example, has a mobile ordering system that has people walking in and picking up their already-made lattes without waiting in line. But they offer benefits way beyond that, such as a mobile system that’s integrated with every location around a particular customer to locate a particular inventory item. For instance, it will inform a customer about available items and where to find them. The tight integration is what provides this exceptional customer experience, but its seamlessness hides how complex it all is behind-the-scenes. Grocery also has a lot of runway for online buying and in-store pick-up capabilities, which fulfills the customers’ needs for convenience and time-savings.
Vantiv can help you learn more about omnicommerce and payment processing. You can also download the latest Vantiv Omnicommerce Tracker, powered by PYMNTS.com, for industry-leading research and insights.