By Jeff Guthrie
It’s time to finally say goodbye to e-commerce. It has evolved into something more advanced and complex, namely digital commerce, and businesses need to make sure they’re keeping up pace or they risk falling short of their customers’ expectations.
To most consumers (and marketers), e-commerce implied there was a purchase made through an online store, likely by firing up a computer, opening a browser and/or skimming through a retailer’s web site.
But that’s rarely the case when shoppers make an online purchase today. People use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, virtual assistants and even smart TVs to do their research. Everything has gone digital, even the window-shopping experience.
Moving customers to digital commerce
While the shift to digital commerce is well underway, most consumers are still not even at the old e-commerce stage. Moneris sales data shows about 90% of Canadians’ purchases at mass merchandisers, department and specialty stores are still happening in the bricks-and-mortar environment. Which begs the question, how can businesses succeed in a world where shopping starts online and ends in store?
It sounds obvious, but in order to be seen a business has to be visible. Long gone are the days of Canadians relying on the Yellow Pages to look up businesses. If businesses don’t have any kind of online presence they may as well be invisible in today’s business climate. Even if having fully integrated online stores are not feasible, it’s important that businesses to have presences online that educates consumers about what they sell and directs them to the right places to make those purchases.
The good news for small businesses is that there are plenty of easy-to-use tools and services that can help them get up and running digitally. Those services that can walk anyone through the steps it takes to create a web site and an online store, even at the same time.
Active social media pages are another great way to do this. Though businesses are less likely to be found online through a Google search, they are still in front of their target audiences on a platform they know that has the potential to reach them.
Enabling digital commerce payments
Furthermore, Canadians are now using an omnichannel approach to their shopping habits, and businesses should consider how they could integrate multiple channels into a seamless on-brand experience. This means that payments should be simple regardless of the place they’re made, be it at a cashier’s station or online through digital commerce platforms. When customers are ready to pay, they’re either going to have cash, cards or even their smartphones in-hand. Businesses need to determine if they are ready for that.
The move to digital commerce isn’t just about keeping up with trends for the sake of keeping up. It’s about advancing your customer service potential by making your shopping experience convenient.
Accepting digital wallets
A recent payment trend that has since merged into the digital commerce space is the acceptance of digital wallets: Google Pay, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout and Masterpass by Mastercard as the most common examples. Digital wallets allow users to make purchases through safely secured and tokenized data stored within their smart devices, which are linked to their credit or debit accounts. The transactions then appear on their smartphones for example, where customers approve the purchases through biometric authentication channels.
Many payment processors that offer online solutions will have integration options to include digital wallets as a payment choice in their digital commerce checkout solutions. This payment choice is both convenient and secure for online shoppers and allows businesses to keep up with digital commerce trends with less payment card industry (PCI) data risk.
In the world of digital commerce, businesses need to think beyond their storefronts to ensure their relevancy. There are many easy ways to make sure they are visible online, from digital commerce web sites to social media, but it’s important to make sure they make things easy for customers too.
In a marketplace controlled by customers that have unlimited access to goods and services, making your business as customer-friendly as possible is vital. That means making it easy to find, convenient to shop at and ready for all payment types via digital commerce. Deliver the experience your customers want, not the experience you think is right, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Jeff Guthrie is the chief sales officer for Moneris (www.moneris.com). Jeff is responsible for Canadian revenues and partner relationships. Jeff has 19 years of experience in the electronic payments industry and over 40 years of experience in financial services. Prior to Moneris, Jeff was vice-president, operations for RBC Royal Bank, Card Services. Jeff is currently a member of the MasterCard Canadian Advisory Board and has served on the Visa Canada and Discover North American advisory boards.