Commerce has evolved rapidly in recent years. While commerce has always been fluid, ever-changing beast, the advent of the internet and blazing fast personalized delivery systems have created an economy that thrives on multi-channel commerce. The amount of choices afforded to the modern consumer is overwhelming. The advantages of multi-channel commerce to the business owner are many.
So what does this mean for small business owners? Today, we will explore this idea by defining multi-channel commerce, identifying the differences and similarities between multi-channel and omni-channel commerce, pinpoint the advantages of multi-channel e-commerce, and discuss payment processing solutions for multi-channel commerce businesses.
Defining Multi-Channel Commerce
Multi-channel commerce essentially boils down to businesses that offer their goods and services through multiple sales channels and/or platforms. Typical multi-channel retailers might have a sales presence in the following areas:
Brick and mortar retail locations: physical stores still remain hugely popular across many industries. While the news of brick and mortar businesses doing poorly seems to be reported every year, we find that the rumors of brick and mortar’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Proprietary websites/online stores: with third-party payment gateways and other modern conveniences, even the smallest businesses can offer their goods and services through their own website.
Third party ecommerce sites: online retailers such as Amazon remain juggernauts in the multi-channel commerce business model. Remember that having multiple channels is all about providing customer options and customer convenience.
More: mailed catalogs, social media presence, and other outlets may all round out a robust multi-channel business model.
Omni-Channel vs. Multi-Channel Commerce
Another term we often hear these days is omni-channel retail. This begs the question: is omni-channel commerce the same as multi-channel commerce? While they are similar, there are a few key differences.
Multi-channel commerce is centered around providing your products and/or services through many outlets. The key here is that the product is the focus and that the multiple available retail options are thought of as a means to sell that product. These channels such as brick & mortar, e-commerce, and third party web sales, are viewed as separate entities.
Omni-channel commerce instead focuses on providing a multi-faceted customer experience that remains coherent on multiple channels. Another way of thinking of omni-channel retail is a sales presence which aims to keep in contact with potential consumers at every step of the sales process. Where multi-channel commerce is about offering a product on many channels, omni-channel commerce is about creating a unified network of channels that creates a singular customer experience.
The Advantages of Multi-Channel E-Commerce
The modern customer is well researched, informed, and all about convenience. This can be a tough hill to climb for retailers, but it also affords an opportunity for brands that utilize a multi-channel e-commerce solution. The benefits of multi-channel retail primarily stem from offering a wide range of purchase options for customers with different preferences.
Consider that even the same customer might prefer to order a product online in certain situations and stop into a brick & mortar shop on a different day. This might be due to an immediate need, the desire to stay in one’s pajamas or a host of other reasons. The advantage of multi-channel commerce is that brands are providing multiple options to suit their customers’ needs.
As purchase decisions continue to move towards immediacy, multi-channel and omni-channel e-commerce solutions allow your product to be where your consumers are at every step of the process.
Payment Processing for Omni-Channel and Multi-Channel Businesses
So what do payment processing solutions look like for omni-channel and multi-channel business models? The answer is heavily dependent on your business details, but there are some high-level considerations that remain consistent for most, if not all, businesses.
Whether you are accepting payments in person or through an online portal, your business will need a merchant account. Merchant accounts are bank accounts opened with the help of a merchant service provider to accept electronic payments such as credit card payments, debit card payments, EBT payments, etc.
Security should always be a top priority. A singular security product such as CardSecure can effectively manage security issues for all types of electronic payments. This is perfect for multi-channel commerce which may operate both online and in-person.
Finally, multi-channel and omni-channel businesses can be hard to bookkeep. That is where point of sale (POS) systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems come into play. These software and/or hardware systems tie in directly to payment processing to allow businesses to track sales, analyze consumer behaviors, secure payments, and plan for the future.
True Merchant Provides Merchant Services to eCommerce, Brick and Mortar, and Businesses of all Kinds
True Merchant is proud to offer payment processing solutions that are simple, secure, and supported by a qualified team of industry professionals. Our products range from online payment solutions, credit card machines, mobile credit card machines, and of course payment processing.
At True Merchant, we understand that choosing a payment processing service is not what most business owners look forward to. It can be daunting, confusing, and it isn’t the most thrilling part of operating a business. However, working with a well-established payment processor will allow your business to meet customer expectations for convenience, stay protected from fraudulent activity, and avoid costly fees.
This is a very important decision for any business. Contact True Merchant today to learn about how our payment processing services can help your business reach the next level!