We live in an open world – open for choice, collaboration, and opportunity. Being open involves connecting and networking in new ways and in the context of the retail environment, that means building and growing new ecosystems.
While most are familiar with the ecosystems that already exist between retailers, acquirers, and banks, a new set of digital and cloud-based ecosystems continue to emerge that delivers a plethora of next-generation, value-added services straight to the point of sale (POS) or online checkout. At the heart of this is the commerce and payment gateways that act as central hubs, linking the various data flows and platforms within expanding retail ecosystems.
It’s time to rethink gateways.
The concept of the commerce gateway as a doorway to an exciting ‘plug and play’ service playground is still new to many retailers. To help them navigate their way through the complexity, we’ve put together a quick guide to help them understand the changing role of the payment gateway in facilitating these new ecosystems:
Expanding portfolio of APIs and Toolkits
Gateways now offer powerful APIs that allow merchants to connect with thousands of third party scripts and shopping carts while also aiding the development of new applications through toolkits and plug-ins, developer portals and sandpits. With these added APIs, retailers can create their own subscription services, on-demand marketplaces, or even crowdfunding platforms using a range of development languages, including Ruby, Python, PHP, and Java. Some gateways will also support hundreds of currencies and offer features such as mobile payments, subscription billing, and one-click checkout.
Fast to market plug-and-play marketplaces
Payment gateways are increasingly offering access to their own pre-built app marketplaces – packed with third party offerings that can be used to enrich retailers’ checkouts – from loyalty gamification and e-charity donations to bill splitting and currency conversion. These can dramatically reduce the time to market of launching new POS services, allowing merchants to browse, choose and deploy apps instantly, or remove them, as consumer and market needs dictate. In this way, they can try-out, evaluate and opt for the best service apps for their audiences without committing to long-term lock-in.
Secure access and sharing
Modern commerce platforms can separate out payment transactions from service platforms, to ensure that sensitive payment data is never compromised within the ecosystem. Equally important is their ability to deliver multiple user support and logins so that service teams and other business functions (including accounts and compliance) can access reports and specifically authorized features. It goes without saying that these also ensure a visible audit trail that links specific actions to authorized users. In addition, gateways can also provide custom security settings as well as anti-fraud capabilities to ensure that the transaction path is secure at all times, protecting against fines, fees, and chargebacks.
Tracking complex customer journeys
To aid targeting, personalization and more effective loyalty incentives, offers and promotions, it makes sense to be able to track customers and their journeys across retail ecosystems – between brands, channels, and locations. The gateway can aid this using tokenization, to ‘follow’ the customer through various journeys by allowing payment methods to be linked to transaction activity. Through data anonymization, information such as what, when, where, and how purchases and interactions were made can be shared across functions and brands within the ecosystem, without compromising sensitive cardholder or payment data.
Relationships must be reengineered, too
From Alibaba and Amazon, the development of the retail marketplace as an aggregated website is reshaping the global definition of the retailer and the sales ecosystem. Brands are now squeezing their way in between retailers and their customers, particularly in new e-marketplaces inclusive of review sites and comparison sites, payment providers, loyalty apps, returns companies, influencers, and social media.
Retailers can’t afford to wait for the customer to be ready to purchase their product, they need to get closer to them before they decide to buy. Owning or running a commerce gateway allows retailers to build their own ecosystems that put customers’ desires and needs first by enabling them to find new ways to interact (content marketing, geolocation and push services) and to personalize experiences.