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MAG Sponsor Spotlight: Ways to help you thrive in an omnichannel payments environment (MAG Quarterly- Volume Eight, Issue One)

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By Robert Gates, E-Receivables Consultant, Wells Fargo Merchant Services

March 5, 2020

A smart approach to card payments can help reduce declines and chargeback

Omnichannel is now a must for B2C and B2B companies alike. It’s all about ensuring a seamless, consistent experience for your customers, regardless of how they engage with your business, or which payment method they use to buy. Seventy-three percent of buyers now use multiple channels when they shop.1 Online shoppers; in particular, are likely to start on one device and finish on another.

For many companies, it’s also a careful balance between customer experience and company risk. Digital payment methods help make it fast and easy to buy, but they also can impact your reputation and bottom line through excessive declines, returns, chargebacks, and negative customer reviews.

The right receivables bank can help you adopt new payment techniques designed to satisfy your customers – without sacrificing your efficiency or profitability.

Best practices for card payments in an omnichannel environment:

1. Sell with simplicity. Buyers appreciate a variety of payment options: credit and debit cards, gift and prepaid cards, mobile wallets, and more. It’s not enough to simply accept numerous payment methods; the checkout experience should also be quick and easy. A complicated menu or workflow not scaled to the device or situation could turn purchasers away. 

Test your choices from the user’s perspective, and hone each payment method to the channel it’s in. Look for new payment options, like one-click ordering; these top the wish list for e-commerce merchants who want to drive sales, increase profits and improve their omnichannel experience.2

2. Make purchases recognizable. Whether it’s e-commerce or brick-and-mortar, when weeks elapse between a sale and arrival of the credit card bill, there’s ample opportunity to forget purchase specifics. In B2B, central procurement may handle billing and never even see the initial transaction. Both can drive up your chargebacks and refunds. 

From start to finish, make your brand as recognizable as possible. Don’t settle for default wording on your merchant statements; instead, customize it. “Blue Moon Tech” or “Blue Moon Media” will engage customers more strongly than billing generically as “BMT Co.” Add a descriptor that makes it clear what you sell, whether it’s software, cell phones, or music. Using a reference that triggers an image of your product or service makes it recognizable for customers.

3. Keep recurring transactions flowing. Subscription-based business models like media, telecom, software, and e-commerce count on recurring transactions. Customers appreciate the ease of setting up cards on file with their favorite merchants. But outdated expiration dates, lost or stolen cards, account number updates, and other changes result in declines for approximately 13 percent of recurring payments each month.4 

To reduce these disruptions, work with your merchant processor to update accounts automatically. These services work with Visa®, MasterCard®, Discover®, and American Express® to keep your stored, tokenized card data current and accurate, allowing you to potentially accelerate cash flow and maintain a positive customer experience. 

4. Optimize your timing. Payment timing can help contribute to your product or service’s success, especially for businesses that use automatic renewals or trial offers. Set expectations clearly, and use reminders when renewals bill infrequently, such as quarterly or annually. 

In particular, consider when you authorize transactions. For example, with a 30-day trial, customers typically provide payment details on day 1, with billing to begin on day 31. Many merchants, however, authorize the card on day 1, in order to verify the account number and screen for fraud. In some cases, customers see this activity on their account, view the merchant with suspicion, and cancel their subscription. 

To help reduce this cancellation risk, savvy merchants use the enhanced functionality of account update services. With these services, they can validate cardholder accounts on day 1, but wait to authorize the payment until day 31. It’s a prime example of balancing customer experience with company liability.

1 Retail TouchPoints, “Next-Gen Omnichannel Strategies,” 2018
2 Oracle, “Inside the Minds of Ecommerce Execs,” 2018
3 eMarketer, “US Omnichannel Retail StatPack 2018: Marketer and Consumer Trends”
4 Recurly, “Subscription Benchmarks: Top Payment Decline Reasons,” accessed April 3, 2019,