CNP Expo: Even the Little Guy Can Leverage Every Channel

May 21, 2014

CNP Expo: Even the Little Guy Can Leverage Every Channel Day 3 of the CNP Expo kicked off with a back-and-forth discussion explaining how even small merchants can leverage every channel to meet its customers’ needs. Moderator Dickson Chu, CEO of DC Advisors, said that whereas 15 years ago, e-commerce was the great equalizer for small businesses, these days, an integration of e-commerce, mobile, and a brick-and-mortar presence—that is, omnichannel—“could be the new equalizer for small merchants.”

The panelists agreed, and observed that the key to understanding omnichannel is seeing it as more than just payment—it’s the shopping experience for the customer. David Pipe of ZNAP summed it up: “Omnichannel is anytime, anywhere from a consumer standpoint, and it’s where consumers can ebb and flow through different channels seamlessly.”

Jack Stephenson, senior vice president of digital commerce for First Data Corporation, believes that “omnichannel is still a bit of a dream today, it’s not quite a reality. This is an exciting time, because small businesses can be more flexible and have access to a lot of tools. This is the era where small businesses can become a driver in omnichannel.”

One barrier to entry for SMBs, however, is figuring out which tools and technologies to adopt among a wide variety that is springing up. According to Pipe, “the sheer number of horses in the race, so many SMBs are waiting to see what emerges so they know which horse to back.” In the meantime, they aren’t moving forward.

BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier agreed that “SMBs feel overwhelmed by the options—so many mobile wallet apps, payment gateways, marketing systems, etc., and they become a system integrator,” losing their focus and getting away from the strengths of their business. He explained that breaking down the problem into manageable pieces and demystifying the solutions allows small merchants to go omnichannel. “The configuration is as important as the components. Most smaller merchants benefit from keeping it simple and keeping it in the cloud.”