There is a race to be “the” software platform provider for all kinds of merchants, which means that payment acceptance plays a big role, but it may not be the most important thing. The more significant realization and the bigger opportunity is to create an outstanding consumer experience. What creates the experience? Is it just the software? Consumers care deeply about their experiences, and if the past year has shown us anything, it has shown us that their needs can change quickly. We know that now more than ever, and in the coming future, meeting these needs will require blending the digital and physical world.
It may be a bit of an overused buzzword at this point, but the central thesis of “omnichannel” is still very important. Of course, merchants need to engage across many interaction points, and do it seamlessly because that’s what consumers want. Put succinctly, what consumers really want is to pay for things in a variety of ways, at a variety of times and places, and they want to do it all simply. Anything that enables simplified transactions as an end goal will be rewarded.
Putting it all together can be difficult. The payments space is exceedingly complex, and as a result, integration of payments into software is often added in without fully realizing its potential to create a better customer experience. It’s important to understand that payments is far more than just the transaction itself. Today’s modern payment platforms not only enable the transaction but are also capable of operating across multiple channels. Many payment platforms can help build a more comprehensive 360-degree view of the customer by providing consumer analytics, loyalty programs, and more.
But we need to be fair, as much as the software will be part of that enablement, there will always be hardware involved. Hardware that needs to be configured, needs to be secure, and needs to be delivered. And it will need to look good, perform well, and be an integrated part of the created consumer experience.
Navigating the payment complexity requires a partnership that can ensure consumers’ demands are met. When Covid pushed consumers to ask for contactless transactions, restaurants and retailers reacted. They wanted hardware devices that accepted contactless payments. Many devices in the field were already capable, but the devices needed new configurations that would work with existing software systems. Value-added distribution providers were able to help partners navigate the complexity of reconfiguring devices and returning them to the field. Often, partnerships, not new development, are the best way to meet consumer needs.
Most purchasing journeys at some point involve interaction with a physical device, providing hardware distributors with a unique position and the qualifications to aid in the software development process that seeks to include payments. Value-added distributors are familiar with a myriad of devices and their capabilities, and they intimately understand the configurations and interplay of payments, software, and hardware. A distributor’s goal in the equation is simple – they want to enable success. Ultimately, they are also focused on happy consumers. If the consumer is happy, that means the merchant is happy, the payment partner is happy, and the software provider is happy.