By Nick Starai
Network Merchants Inc.
Omnichannel is the business-model nirvana nearly every retailer is trying to reach, and for good reason. The idea of making purchasing easy for consumers, whether in-store across multiple locations or online from anywhere, not only increases sales, but it also improves the customer experience. With such amazing results, it should be no surprise that other verticals have taken note and are now seeking payment solutions that will make omnichannel a reality for them.
For ISOs seeking lush new market opportunities, promising options definitely exist outside of retail. In fact, while NMI has seen a 20 percent growth in merchants processing omnichannel payments, much of that growth is happening outside of retail.
Consider the transportation industry and niches such as light rail and buses. Historically, customers were required to pre-purchase a pass or closed-loop payment card via a kiosk or ticketing agent. Of course, some tickets could be purchased when the traveler boarded. Today, thanks to the implementation of omnichannel payment solutions, transportation operators can adopt an omnichannel strategy and reap the rewards.
For example, open-loop payment solutions in transportation allow for a contactless credit card or mobile device to be used in place of a ticket to "tap on" and "tap off" when getting on or leaving a bus or train. Physical tickets can also be purchased via an unattended kiosk, from a ticketing agent at a POS terminal, or on the train ("tap on/tap off"). Virtual tickets can also be purchased via a mobile app.
The result is that the transportation company can sell tickets on a variety of different channels – in the above example, five different online and offline ways – using a single omnichannel payment solution to drive commerce.
There are, of course, other markets exploring omnichannel payments. Healthcare organizations and dental offices are big on protecting private information, so having tokenized payment methods allows patients to remain anonymous while still making payments easy.
Another market is the vending machine industry where companies are rolling out tap-to-pay and even loyalty programs. Imagine having a phone app that allows you to pay for vending machine items from your phone as opposed to the machine. Also, proximity readers in the vending machines can sense when customers are nearby and push out notifications to increase engagement.
In all cases, markets outside of retail are taking note because the omnichannel model has the potential to deliver the same benefits that we see in retail. Thanks to the underlying omnichannel payment backbone, tokenization of the customer can be used for all purchases, allowing companies to track and understand customer engagement.
In addition, it's easier for the company to manage one payment vendor for all electronic transactions. Of course, giving customers multiple options for payments can only increase their overall satisfaction.
Finally, it should be noted that in all the above examples, the omnichannel commerce user experience can be elevated with the inclusion of contactless payment capabilities. While the United States has lagged behind other countries when it comes to contactless, it's catching up quickly and will soon be a payment option consumers expect at the POS. With every card brand planning to issue contactless cards in the near term, contactless will quickly become the rule, as opposed to the exception.
Thanks to proven results experienced in retail, ISOs and merchant level salespeople seeking sales in omnichannel and contactless payments have more opportunities than ever. Are you ready to seize the opportunity?
Nick Starai is chief strategy officer and one of the co-founders of NMI who played an integral role in the formation and launch of the NMI payments platform in 2001. He drives the strategic direction of the company and supports NMI's enterprise clients and overall partner success. He also brings 17 years of experience in the payments and technology industry. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 844-378-2146 and via Twitter @NMIpayments.
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