Big-box retailers aren’t the only ones being forced to change the way they do business as giants like Amazon reshape the way consumers shop and consume services—small businesses also get caught in the storm.
Even mom-and-pop stores selling pizza or dry-cleaning services to a fully local customer base are feeling the effect of the omnichannel approach to retail, where consumers are demanding new, streamlined approaches to ordering, pickup and payment, according to NCR Corp., which earlier this year unveiled a new omnichannel-focused developer platform.
The 132-year-old Georgia-based company will be opening a new innovation lab in Atlanta, in the heart of what some industry observers have dubbed “Transaction Alley” because of the concentration of payments companies in the region, said Chris Poelma, president and general manager of NCR Small Business.
Worldpay, Fiserv, First Data, TSYS and Global Payments are among payments giants with major operations around Atlanta that collectively process about 70% of U.S. payments volume.
NCR last year broke ground on a new corporate headquarters in Atlanta, which will include the innovation lab. NCR’s current headquarters is about 30 miles away in Duluth, Ga.
“We’re putting a big emphasis on omnichannel technology into the lab, and we see the omnichannel concept as a big enabler for small businesses, whether it’s for sales in-store, via mobile devices, around the clock or reaching new global customer groups, and doing it in a secure, private way,” Poelma said.
For small businesses, making the leap to mobile apps and online ordering may even have a bigger immediate impact on the bottom line than for corporations, as the pressure to control personnel and other expenses soars, Poelma said.
“Any small business that can shift operations like tracking orders and accepting payments to a mobile app usually sees immediate results and improvements to customer convenience,” Poelma said, noting that personnel costs tend to account for a disproportionate amount of revenue for smaller businesses.
As a result, small businesses are clamoring for ways to streamline and consolidate tasks just like bigger companies are doing, Poelma said. NCR recently has made significant changes in its five-year-old NCR Silver suite of payments and management tools for small businesses to simplify and speed up implementation and to increase NCR Silver’s omnichannel powers, for any size of business, Poelma said.