As a merchant, you already know that consumers expect a wealth of seamless payment options wherever they go, and that you must embrace new methods quickly or be left behind.
What the people urging you to adopt new payments methods don’t tell you is how to do it. Implementing a new payments system is a complex, multi-faceted endeavour involving numerous stakeholders, complicated technical processes and comprehensive planning.
The stakes also couldn’t be higher. A project delay, or poor execution, could make it difficult – or impossible – for customers to pay, which means lost sales and lost revenue. It’s not surprising that a lot of merchants are reluctant to take that first step.
At Ingenico Enterprise Retail, we understand that merchants need reassurance that a payments implementation project will go smoothly and that transactions will be handled securely. Over many years successfully delivering fully managed in-store, online and omnichannel payment solutions, we’ve developed a methodology for how to successfully approach these transition projects.
If you’re a merchant considering implementing a new payment method, you may want to consider the following points:
1. Involve all key stakeholders from day one
Managing the move to a new solution now involves more people than ever before. Payment methods are a core part of any business, so any change will need the input of experts across your organisation, from marketing and finance personnel to store managers. This is a huge shift in stakeholder involvement, which, in days gone by, would have simply involved IT technicians.
As such, the first step is to understand the needs of all internal parties involved in the transition, as well as the needs of your customers. Engage with them early in the process and get their valuable perspective on how a new payments system could make a difference to them. This will ensure the new system meets their individual requirements, which will help with adoption, while also minimising disruption during project execution.
2. Get a picture of your existing payment ecosystem
Of course, every business wants the bright, shiny, new technology that everyone in the industry is talking about. But each merchant has a unique customer base, size and configuration of estate, and intended retail experience. Differentiation in the very competitive retail market is vital so a payment solution needs to meet the specific needs of your business and must, crucially, be one that you can seamlessly implement.
This is the main reason for involving all stakeholders up front. It’ll give you a clear picture of your existing payments ecosystem, which, even for a single organisation, can be enormously complex. Many mature payment systems have evolved organically and grown over many years, not necessarily lining up with the original design or focussed on effectively achieving the intended purpose. Any change could have a massive impact on the whole business and it’s hugely influenced by your current tech and payment processes. This includes where the money flows, and whether there are any downstream links to financial reconciliation, inventory management, order fulfilment, and so on.
So it’s important to map out your payment ecosystem, paint a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses and where things could be changed.
This is crucial as it allows all parties to understand key technical dependencies and risks, and ensure that all facets of the solution are fully tested and piloted before the solution(s) go live.
3. Choose a Partner with a great track record
Given how complicated these kinds of projects can be, any supplier must be confident and experienced in managing this complexity. A partner should be able to demonstrate that they can provide the following:
- Consultation – It might sound obvious, but payments experts should be able to offer you payment expertise. They should give you confidence that simple solutions are implemented with a low level of risk, and complex solutions are backed up by creativity and deep technical expertise. Any credible Partner will assess your business needs and recommend solutions accordingly. Alarm bells should be going off when a potential partner agrees to exactly everything that you ask for and agree to deliver it to your preferred date at the price you desire. That’s not to say that this isn’t achievable, but in my experience our Retail partners are the experts in their Retail domain and we’re the experts in Payments. We add value through our consultative approach.
- Pre-project planning – Any proposed system must be properly scoped and fully planned out, with all dependencies and risks captured. A credible payment partner will always be transparent about any assumptions, to avoid any surprises, and will also be completely honest about the part you need to play to ensure a successful delivery. Be sure to check that a provider will facilitate stakeholder engagement at the outset to truly understand the business requirement and desired business outcomes.
- Stability – A robust platform with Enterprise grade Service Level Agreements is essential. A provider should include a robust testing and pilot phase to fully assess the inner workings of a solution and ensure it’s functional, operational, and ready for a smooth rollout.
- Transparency – A provider should be able to demonstrate that it can meet any quality, time or cost targets. Providers should also provide regular updates and joint steering committee meetings to give all stakeholders visibility of the project status throughout. This is an important change for you, the Retailer, but it’s also a vital delivery for the partner. A partner should always be willing to share (or actively promote) how they will organise, track and govern the delivery of your payment solution. Trust and partnership come from your confidence that things are always under control.
4. Don’t panic
With any major transformation project, anxiety is expected and inevitable. Implementing a new payment system isn’t easy, and you shouldn’t attempt it lightly. However, by getting the input of your key stakeholders, understanding your existing ecosystem, and finding a provider who is able to manage the process smoothly, you can be confident that the risk factor will have been minimised significantly. The crucial thing is not to panic – the experts are here to help!
This article was originally published on blog.ingenico.com. Since October 28, 2020, Ingenico has joined Worldline.