By Brian Coburn, CEO at Bridge
The ability of COVID-19 to dramatically change consumer buying behaviour continues to challenge the e-commerce world.
Lockdown restrictions, customer anxiety over physical spaces, and increased screen time across all demographics has created an e-commerce boom of unprecedented proportions. Online operations have been tested to the limits and even the most traditional businesses have found themselves forced to pivot and innovate to find new ways of engaging customers. For many retailers, e-commerce has gone from a secondary channel to becoming the primary connection to customers, which makes a strong, resilient online payment structure even more critical than ever to capture every possible transaction opportunity.
Amidst the chaos, many fledgling payment trends have accelerated and previously niche innovations have received a boost.
Consumers have been prompted to try out new or alternative mechanisms such as mobile wallets, payment services, person-to-person transactions and order-ahead apps as they adapt to the new, socially distanced ‘normal’. As much as we all want to see the back of this pandemic, it is unlikely we will see a full retreat from online retail and many of the new payment provisions that have swiftly gained popularity.
Now the ball is in the e-commerce court to catch up and keep customers spending online. It demands a reliable mechanism to minimise cart abandonment and incomplete transactions, the ability to take payments in more varied, innovative and flexible ways, and processes for collecting data to understand what has worked – or not – and why.
None of this is simple or straightforward. In fact, a relatively new term ‘payment orchestration’ is likening the need for management and integration of the many active parts and processes involved in transactions to the task of conducting an orchestral performance. It reflects the challenge of accommodating a growing array of customer payment preferences while also navigating the increasingly complex and fragmented integrations associated with needing to connect to different payment services.
In times of uncertainty, we look for what we can control. The same mentality is apparently behind the rush to stockpile toilet rolls in the early days of the pandemic. But through the lens of e-commerce, control – and resilience – are exactly what businesses need to shore up. With payment orchestration, vendors regain ownership of their payment platform and it puts the complexities of dealing with multiple payment service providers back under their control. E-commerce vendors can then achieve a much clearer, consolidated view of the whole payments infrastructure and support the speed, convenience, personalisation and trust that customers want from online retail.
In the ‘new normal’, these will be the most important influences on the ways in which people choose to shop and engage online and, ultimately, pivotal in the success of e-commerce operations.
Bridge is a new payment orchestration layer for e-commerce enterprises that want to unlock the potential of existing and new digital payment services. Bridge has been created to put payment control in the hands of the merchant. Its single integration layer delivers more control over payment service providers, consolidates internal reporting, builds resilience and enhances the ability to test new payment innovations and opportunities at speed.