new challenges of omnichannel

CNP Session Room: Understanding the Challenges of Omnichannel Panelists at a Wednesday afternoon session of the CNP Expo shared their experience and insights from a new survey on omnichannel commerce . Chris Uriarte, chief payment and strategy officer at Vesta Corporation, which sponsored the survey, said it showed more than 80 percent of merchants feel omnichannel is important to their strategy over the next two years, and over 90 percent feel it’s important over the next 3-5 years. However, less than 50 percent have implemented some type of omnichannel solution, and even then it is often only one or two minor omnichannel capabilities.

“Part of what is holding implementation back is that merchants are confused by a lack of leadership—who within the business should own and drive the omnichannel solution?” The survey also showed that physical stores still act as the hub and are seen as the heart of omnichannel—the “buy online, return to store” model is among the most popular. And unsurprisingly, consumers are moving toward mobile purchasing.

While many merchants remain brick-and-mortar-focused, Payvision COO Gijs op de Weegh noted that his company’s clients have had some success leveraging the data they collect about their customers from their interactions online to make changes to their in-store experience.

Implementing an omnichannel strategy can sometimes mean tension between various divisions within a company who don’t want to lose sales (hence, commission) to the Website. Mark DeCausmeaker, director of multi-channel sales at REEDS Jewelers, related that the friction they encountered with their sales associates turned out to be less complex.

“Assuming it was an education issue, we went through a cycle of national, regional and store training to make sure associates understood the system. Then we decided to become an iPad environment, so associates can meet customers and do the transaction where they are. And our omnichannel went up 500 percent,” DeCausmeaker said. “It turned out, the computers on the floor previously were so archaic, associates didn’t want to bother with them.” Once it was convenient to help the customer order it online, associates jumped in with both feet.

From a fraud perspective, Sean Bennett, director of loss prevention at Tory Burch, noted that going more omnichannel meant their business saw a spike in in-store, social-engineering fraud. He related the story of a fraudster who called about eight stores around the country to ship $4,000 worth of merchandise to their home in Connecticut. Some of the associates fielding the calls were thrilled to get a big sale and to give a customer a great experience, but they didn’t realize such a large order over the phone was against policy.