Lee Jones, Managing Director (GSV) of Northern Europe at Worldline Global takes some time out to discuss with RLI how companies can take an omni-channel approach in the new normal.

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Over the years, the technology that has enabled merchants to create frictionless user experiences and checkout processes has evolved – and so too has consumer behaviour. Today’s customer seeks a shopping experience that is convenient, quick, and efficient, whether that is online, offline or a combination of both.
Customers now shop for their goods and services in an entirely different way from their predecessors. The use of smartphones and 4G internet
connections enables them to access such a broad range of product data that it gives them the ability to research products as they shop in-store.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that customers in today’s world are truly connected, manoeuvring their way around different platforms before making a purchase. So, as we head into the new normal and lockdown measures are slowly lifted, it is critical for merchants looking to thrive to invest in an omni-channel strategy, particularly now that entire demographics have been exposed to the world of online shopping while stores have been closed.


The technology enabling an omni-channel approach
Staying relevant to today’s customers involves making a commitment to using technology to develop engaging, practical and rewarding experiences.
While buyers are switching channels and devices to those that best suit their personal convenience, technology enables retailers to keep pace by removing points of friction and capitalising on the omni-channel opportunity.
Contactless payments are proliferating, along with near-field communication (NFC) beacons and other technologies driving customer engagement.
Systems such as click-and-collect will further boost online sales while providing a secure and convenient experience for customers in a wealth of industries, from retail to quick service restaurants, and beyond.
The connected retail industry will become more agile and we will see a greater roll out of high-tech solutions and tokens such as Shop and Go, or automatic radio frequency identification (RFID)-based no-wait scanning and payments, to increase convenience and consumer options. Other trends such as wearable technology will enable shoppers to pay without needing to so much as reach for their wallets or phones.
Driven by consumer demand for an authentic, more personalised and seamless shopping journey, ease of use and frictionless transactions have always defined the terms for omni-channel success. Businesses will continue to rise to the challenge by ensuring the availability of convenient payment methods at checkout, while also implementing new capabilities in-store, online and through mobile. Still, customer engagement through these channels separately is not enough, as they must be able to communicate and be seamlessly integrated as part of a true omni-channel approach.


Catering to omni-channel consumer demand
As we emerge from the pandemic and the retail sector starts to get back on its feet, meeting customers in a place where consumer demand can be fulfilled will be hugely beneficial to merchants. That means having a customer-focused strategy that leverages in-store and online techniques and intertwines them into a frictionless, enjoyable experience.
What’s more, targeting connected consumers presents a great opportunity for businesses to get ahead of the curve and differentiate themselves, while bolstering a loyal customer base. Yet, having the correct partners will be pivotal to achieving this goal. Merchants should select a single payments provider who is acquirer agnostic and has global expertise in payment technology, card acceptance and acquiring.
With the right help, merchants will be able to handle all omni-channel use cases, reduce risk, increase conversions and enrich consumer-related insights. This will be the combination needed to be successful in the new normal.