How To Gain A Competitive Edge Through The Embedded Commerce Experience - Featured Image

How To Gain A Competitive Edge Through The Embedded Commerce Experience

By Fortis |

Greg Cohen is the chief executive officer of Fortis, a leading integrated commerce platform.

They may not know the term, but your customers likely want embedded commerce options. Contactless payment capabilities, which are now table stakes, are just one part of the larger embedded commerce vision, which integrates purchase options seamlessly into an engaging customer experience. The pandemic sharply accelerated an already ongoing shift to embedded commerce. PwC projects cashless transactions volumes will reach $1.9 trillion by 2025 and digital payments per person will triple by 2030.

Like many other trends that originated with consumers, embedded commerce is raising business customer expectations. While online, digital and contactless payments started the groundswell for embedded commerce during the pandemic for B2C transactions, the demand is growing in other segments. The retail and restaurant sectors got a head start with early capital to support the shift, but sectors with complex infrastructures, like health care and B2B, are also moving toward embedded commerce as fast followers.

That said, the movement to the cloud sealed the deal by highlighting the benefits of an integrated ecosystem, and embedded commerce is rapidly becoming the norm as all businesses are seeing demand in multiple channels. It’s only a matter of time, but for now, early adopters can secure a competitive advantage. Let’s take a look at why and how businesses can move toward an embedded commerce approach.

Why To Consider Embedded Commerce Capabilities

Embedded commerce improves the customer experience while creating efficiencies for the business. As the CEO of a company that offers this type of solution, I’ve observed that customers love it because it’s easy. Think Uber and Amazon. There’s no friction in the payment process, so the transaction is seamless and invisible in the customer experience.

The other part of the equation is greater efficiency for the business. Embedded commerce speeds up cash flow; there’s no sending a paper invoice and waiting for a paper check. Features like pre-enrollment and text-to-pay can streamline back-office operations for all types of businesses, relieving the pressure to hire and retain staff in a tight labor market. For example, a doctor’s office or wholesaler with embedded commerce options wouldn’t have to hound patients or buyers for payments; instead, they could collect copays and other funds seamlessly while posting back to their general ledgers.

Embedded commerce capabilities also deliver more integrated and engaging experiences to customers across the board, so retailers and service providers get more opportunities to make a sale. Customers embraced digital interfaces during the pandemic to make shopping and buying easier, and when companies meet customers where they are with an engaging experience, the business can get more at-bats, which can lead to more sales.

What To Look For In An Embedded Commerce Solution

The movement to the cloud and a growing recognition of the benefits have combined to create powerful momentum for embedded commerce across all verticals. But if you’re thinking about an embedded e-commerce solution, you should consider several factors before choosing a partner. The primary consideration will be how seamlessly the solution integrates with existing business systems.

This encompasses the entire ecosystem, including all customer touchpoints. So, if your customers interact with the business in a physical store and online, find a solution that accommodates both customer journeys. Similarly, businesses must seek out a unified approach to integrate commerce across all interfaces, e.g., the accounting system, web presence, call center, other digital engagement points and even point-of-sale ecosystems. The key here is to think holistically.

Future needs are also a crucial factor. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable, so find a solution that’s as future-proof as possible. That means thinking about where your business might expand (i.e., multiple currencies), which payment methods customers will use (credit cards, ACH, digital wallets, etc.), and whether features like buy now, pay later, point-of-sale financing or even crypto acceptance should be options. Additionally, consider where your business will meet customers in the future (across expanding geographies, in the metaverse, etc.). Will a solution with an attractive price point today become obsolete? Is it better to choose a more flexible solution that can grow with the company’s needs, even if the upfront cost is higher?

Risk mitigation and security are critical considerations, along with who will be taking care of your clients. Who will manage payment disputes and serve as the business advocate when there is a security issue? Can you count on the systems and critical data to be locked down, secure and compliant? Can your technology partner provide the level of attention and support needed for you to execute your strategy? As a business leader, you should resolve all these questions before making a final decision.

The Road To Your Embedded Commerce Strategy

All bourgeoning technologies encounter a few bumps in the road, including the seamless idea of embedded commerce and invisible payments. As leaders start implementing embedded commerce strategies, they might find themselves stacked up against a fragmented payments ecosystem with several vendors often involved in the architecture to staff re-education. This creates pain points from system overhauls to retraining and learning curves to varied experiences with cloud and non-cloud software.

With market volatility, technological innovation and dynamic consumer demands, we may not know exactly how the payments sector will evolve, but we know the road to invisibility will continue. So your payments partner and team must fully understand the complexities inherent in your specific industry. That includes regulatory and compliance obligations, as well as deep expertise on platform customization.

Good For Customers, Good For Business

In the early days of the pandemic, the National Retail Federation highlighted a Mastercard survey that found 8 in 10 customers were using contactless payment systems due to hygiene and safety concerns. The article predicted that consumer behavior that evolved during the public health crisis would stick over the long-term. That was correct.

But contactless payment was just the beginning. Now businesses are setting themselves apart in a competitive marketplace by consistently delivering a customer experience on digital platforms. By giving customers the shopping and payments experience they want and integrating it with your systems and processes, your businesses could get lasting returns in the form of greater customer loyalty and operational efficiency.

By Forbes |