By Aaron Lumnah, Senior Manager, Marketing Demand Generation

Today’s time-pressed consumers expect convenience in everything they do. As experienced digital shoppers, they are highly skilled at using multiple devices – and multiple channels – to shop anytime, anywhere.

With so much choice and information available with just a single screen swipe or click of the keyboard, consumers have come to expect the same ease and speed in any interaction they undertake with any type of business – regardless of its size.

Attracting and retaining the connected consumer is now a commercial reality for SMEs that want to compete and win in a world that’s increasingly dominated by digital channels. Having an online presence is a great start, but today’s consumers expect to seamlessly switch between a range of channels when researching or making purchases.

What’s more, the rising popularity of social commerce represents a prime opportunity for smaller organizations.

With 70% of consumers now using Instagram to undertake product discovery, brands large and small are scrambling to set up social channels on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok to showcase products, offer promos, and interact with customers.

But that’s not the only game in town.

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The Power of Channel Choice

Small businesses that want to deliver a smoother engagement journey need to make it easy for customers to get in contact using their preferred method of communication. Whether that’s delivering offers and notifications that enable customers to use SMS text as a support channel, o emails that offer a click-to-upgrade service option, or even live chat to respond to queries and turn website visitors into customers, simplifying the customer journey to make it as frictionless as possible is essential.

The growing trend towards omnichannel customer service – allowing customers to reach you via social media, live chat and SMS in addition to traditional phone and email channels – is putting the onus on smaller companies to keep up with heightened consumer expectations. With research from Google showing that 98% of Americans switch between devices in the same day, today’s consumers now use an average of almost six touch-points, with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.

Let’s take a look at just some the benefits that result from giving customers greater channel choice:

  • Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel (Source: Google)
  • Companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement experience a 9.5% increase in annual revenue (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • 79% of millennials are more willing to buy from brands that have a mobile customer service portal (Source: Microsoft)

Regardless of whether you are selling products or want to make it easy for customers to renew subscriptions and membership fees, the ability to integrate payment capabilities into every engagement channel you utilize will be key.

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Enabling Secure Omnichannel Payments

As consumers increasingly turn to digital channels to make purchases and conduct their day-to-day business and household affairs, making payment both convenient and seamless will open up opportunities for SMEs to explore exciting new revenue opportunities.

However, taking your business anywhere, anytime, is not without challenges.

Integrating fast and easy-to-use payment options in every channel will be key for delivering an optimized customer experience. After all, no one wants to start a conversation in one channel, and then have to stop and log into another to complete a purchase or transaction.

Streamlining the payment experience for customers is just the start. Protecting sensitive customer data, like credit or debit card information, and handling customer payments in a PCI DSS compliant way will also prove to be mission critical.

Fortunately, today’s secure payment link solutions make it easy to serve customers in any digital channel, transforming every-day customer interactions into an immediate revenue opportunity.

Customers simply follow the secure links you provide via a webchat, email, SMS, or social media post, and enter their payment details, using the payment method of their choice; and nobody else sees their sensitive payment details.

Solutions like Semafone’s Cardprotect Relay+ eliminate any need for your organization to store, process or transmit cardholder data, so you can rest assured your business stays PCI DSS compliant. Plus, because the solution is delivered via an API driven SaaS platform, there’s no costly hardware or time-consuming technical upfront investment required.

All of which makes it easy and affordable for small businesses to unleash omnichannel payments in any digital customer channel.

Transforming for a Digital Future

Digital transformation is happening fast, and those businesses that are able to offer convenient and easy experiences will be most likely to win consumers’ hearts and minds.

Today’s payment solutions deliver the transaction visibility and ease of integration that make it easy for SMEs to address the expectations of today’s omnichannel consumer. By embracing a security-first mindset and utilizing solutions that make it easy to optimize payment acceptance for the business itself as well as customers, organizations of all sizes can use their newfound digital capabilities to drive sustainable business growth.

The Omnichannel Consumer: Why it’s Time for SMEs to Play ‘Catch Up’
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