Commerce has gone omnichannel, and this time for real

We’ve been talking about omnichannel commerce for many years, but the events of 2020 were a catalyst that pushed many businesses to adopt it. As consumer habits changed nearly overnight, businesses of all shapes and sizes adapted to new demands. This meant huge growth in e-commerce and integrated sales across channels. And this growth is supported by smart payment technology, facilitating omnichannel commerce without sacrificing convenience or security.

Integrating the online and offline worlds of commerce

There are countless examples of how boundaries are blurring between online and in-store, especially in retail. One such example is “endless aisle”, allowing customers to order out-of-stock items within the store, ready for next-day delivery or pickup. Another is click and collect or “BOPIS”, buy online, pick up in store, meaning customers buy via a website or app and arrive in person to collect.


These are now taking off, and in a big way. For example, European click-and-collect turnover is forecasted to grow from €26.7 billion 2018 to €45.1 billion in 2023. And it’s worth bearing in mind this was projected before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed digitalisation into a new gear.


And while the major brands are central to widespread consumer adoption of technology, SMEs also have an important role. “A lot of interesting innovation actually starts with small businesses,” says Arlette Broex, Nieuwe Knikkers podcast host and Initiative Lead at FINN (ING Labs), “because they can move faster than big brands.”

Omnichannel payments are supporting this dynamic new environment

Payment technology is getting smarter, and this is helping merchants manage a seamless experience across multiple channels. With endless aisle, for example, customers complete their order at a selfservice kiosk using their contactless card or mobile wallet – and with click-and-collect, transactions are processed online through the merchant’s webshop solution. And when it comes to returns, purchases via click-and-collect or e commerce can now be returned in-store or via post, and the funds are paid back seamlessly to the customer’s card.


In the hospitality sector, there has been a rapid transition to local delivery, takeaway services, and QR code-powered “order/pay-at-table” as a way to minimise contact between customers and staff. Suddenly, restaurant owners who’d been used to a conventional “offline” process have been looking to digital solutions for managing orders and processing online payments.

Our experience here at CCV, confirms that these developments are intensifying. Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been helping many more merchants bring their various channels together into a single holistic payment environment. This allows businesses to have one source of truth for transaction data, and helps them offer a consistent and enjoyable purchasing experience to customers – regardless of whether they prefer to buy online or in-store.


As just one example of many here at CCV, our team helped CEWE implement self-service cashless payment terminals at photo-printing kiosks in the UK, and this technology was integrated with their e-commerce system. The result is a fully-aligned payment ecosystem, allowing CEWE to offer more flexibility to customers when it comes to paying for their prints.

“This merging of online-offline is happening fast and the sooner the businesses jump on this train, the more resilient they can become in the medium and long term.”

Sam Arkens
CCO, CCV Belgium

For many small and medium businesses, the first step to a successful omnichannel experience is obvious, but we see that it is not always easy. The business must make sure that both in-store and online sales channels are set up and working optimally. The pandemic pushed many businesses to open a webstore or started social selling when they were fully relying on bricks and mortar just a few months ago. But the real challenge is to go a step further and integrate both channels.


When someone has their smartphone to hand, they immediately expand the range of interaction they can have with the business. Their experience is not limited to in-store or online touchpoints – it turns into an ongoing and connected relationship. For example, you can choose what to display on shelves and provide a QR code for customers to see other options in a product range, or craft experiences with personalised discounts or loyalty benefits.


On top of that, you can prolong this exposure to the brand with a meaningful and personalised follow-up after the purchase takes place. This merging of online offline is happening fast and the sooner the businesses jump on this train, the more resilient they can become in the medium and long term.

Learn more? Read about 2021 Payment Trends in our CCV Pulse report

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