As people emerge from the pandemic, the economy is rebounding fast. Brick-and-mortar shops are open for business, restaurants are accepting reservations, and the malls are welcoming shoppers in droves. But the environment in which consumer-focused businesses operate today is dramatically different than just a few short years ago — and the pandemic has a lot to do with this shift.
In an effort to remain operational during lockdowns, businesses rapidly adopted new ways of engaging with and servicing customers, who have now become accustomed to interacting with businesses via myriad channels. Consumers use a combination of digital channels such as websites, mobile apps, text and chat, and physical experiences such as in-store shopping and curbside pickup. According to Marketing Week, nearly half of today’s consumers use an average of almost six touch-points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.
And, while some shoppers will begin their research for products online then visit the store to complete a purchase, others will visit the store to see and feel a product, then complete the purchase online. The methods for buying goods may vary—from in-store point-of-sale systems, to self-help kiosks, websites, mobile apps and more. The challenge for businesses in this environment is to create frictionless experiences for customers, regardless of what channel they use to shop and pay for goods.
Let’s take a closer look at the various channels a customer may user to purchase goods from your business—and what those interactions might look like:
A typical customer may use more than one of these channels to complete a single purchase. For example, 59% of shoppers compare costs or research deals on their mobile devices while they’re in the store. Others will come into a store to see an item in person, then complete the purchase online later on. A loyal customer may shop in-store one day and online the next, using a different method to complete the purchase each time. They might place an order or a hold through one channel, and pay for the product through another channel. They may purchase online and return the product in the store, or buy a product in-store, print out the return label online and send it back via UPS. As new channels continue to become available, the combinations of touch points are endless.
Regardless of how customers complete a purchase or request a return, they expect a seamless, consistent experience across channels.
Attracting and retaining customers in the post-pandemic era will require businesses to interact with consumers in a consistent manner across digital and physical channels, and accept payments wherever the customer decides to complete a purchase. To make this happen, business owners must be able to track and reconcile consumer activity and payments activity across all channels with real-time, actionable data, accommodate expectations for flexible payment options and remove any friction between channels that can frustrate customers and send them to competitors.
Robust omnichannel solutions such as the AFS’s proprietary APEX product line empower business owners to process payments through any medium and any channel — while customers are in line, at the counter, at the table, at curbside, online, or on their laptop or mobile device. In this way, businesses can meet customers where they are, remove barriers to conducting business, and drive revenue with new ways to reach more consumers.
For more information about AFS APEX solutions, visit Payment Solutions.