By Brian Green

While small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) are as diverse as society, there is one thing they all have in common: the need to sell goods or services.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of SMBs have had to make changes to how they interact with customers in order to reach a vastly changing market.

The most common challenge they face has been the adoption and implementation of technology to help them sell digitally, and effectively creating a multichannel — or omnicommerce — approach to their go-to-market strategy. The businesses that have found an efficient way to do so are reinventing themselves amid a pandemic and finding new ways to be successful.

Omnicommerce encompasses the myriad of channels through which a business can sell, and a customer can buy. These can be physical face-to-face interactions, entirely digital engagements or interactions that combine physical and digital experiences. Some examples of how the COVID-19 pandemic is compelling traditional businesses to enable new omnicommerce experiences include:
• Table service restaurants. These offer customers the option to order online for pickup and delivery. This solution is payment-enabled web app that incorporates a menu, and can communicate orders to the kitchen while also connecting with delivery services;
• Main Street retail stores. Many of them now sell via a web store or social media, and the solution is payment-enabled shopping cart and social media buy buttons;
• Custom window distributors. These businesses replace phone collections with e-invoicing and that includes a pay button and tracks invoice payment status
• Beauty salons. Customers can make appointments online and pay digitally in advance. These businesses can offer an integrated point-of-sale (POS) solution that supports appointment booking, online payment and customer loyalty/rewards; and
• Home fitness equipment. These sellers make large purchases more affordable for consumers; this is buy-now-pay-later program for online purchases, enabling consumers to spread their purchases out over several months.

Some SMBs are having to accommodate all of these experiences to succeed, and others only a sub-set.

Regardless, it can be a daunting task for any small business to enable these experiences without bringing increased cost and complexity into their business. Especially if the SMB attempts to use multiple technology providers to enable these new commerce experiences. Doing so can make tasks such as inventory management, financial reconciliation and protecting customer data much more difficult: and ultimately create new headaches for the business owner.

The power of one
As omnicommerce moves to the forefront of SMB success, the value of working with a provider that can enable a broad range of payment experiences through a single platform is growing in importance.

Providers in the competitive “smart” POS space in Canada, including Clover, the cloud-based POS platform from Fiserv, are focused on enabling the omnicommerce experiences each specific businesses — from pizza restaurants to barber shops — need to succeed. These can include in-store sales, e-invoicing, eCommerce, social media, appointment scheduling, employee management, customer management, gift and loyalty solutions and many other value-added services.

Essentially, with such a platform the SMB can get everything they need to run their business from one system: while benefiting from the simplicity of a single account, streamlined inventory management and data analytics.

The ways in which SMBs do business have forever changed due to the pandemic. Today’s SMB must engage their customers through new channels, accept multiple forms of payment and create new experiences that build value for the consumer in the simplest manner possible.

Omnicommerce has been essential to their survival in 2020 and will be catalyst for any business hoping to thrive into the New Year.

Brian M. Green is President, Merchant Services, Fiserv Canada.

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