Omni-channel payments seek to address the opportunity for payment technologies to seamlessly integrate in-store payments, mobile transactions, social media purchases, and more.

As consumers shop across more and more different channels, it’s not uncommon for someone to check out a Facebook ad, visit a product’s Shopify-hosted website, then buy it on their phone—and small businesses have been racing to keep up.

With this growing expansion of channels, small businesses are tasked with the need to adapt at a rapid pace in order to transact faster and have proper inventory. Whether customers are brick-and-mortar shoppers or millennials paying through social media channels, small businesses that understand their customers’ shopping preferences can provide a tailored shopping experience and increase revenue.

It's a challenge, but small businesses do have options to adopt omnichannel shopping and payments technology, says Intuit's John Shapiro.

Offering a seamless omni-channel shopping experience across multiple platforms will not only help meet the needs of existing customers, but will also help small businesses find new customers. When customers can purchase their favorite product or service on a platform they know, use, and love, businesses can leverage it as a key differentiator in a competitive market. If a small business owner’s website connects to their brand’s Facebook page, they should have a payment option on both of those channels to avoid missing a sale—what’s worse than sending customers to a dead end?

But with every new technology comes consumer hesitation. One way to determine if it’s time to adapt new technology is to tune into customers’ habits – to see which technologies they are adopting and which solutions fit into their day-to-day lives. This is an ongoing process for small business owners as payment methods continue to evolve.

So how does a small business owner determine which payment options are a fit for their business? The first step lies within fully understanding the business and adopting the right payment tools that enable simplicity.

When adopting a payment processor for an omni-channel approach, it is easy to get lost in the number of solutions available for each platform. Before deciding on a system, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

Look for a solution that gives you multiple options: Choose something that is compatible with multiple channels and accessible on multiple platforms. Having a flexible option will allow you to easily scale your business and streamline your workflow. There is also a lot of benefit in understanding a business across the board and analyzing payments data processed through multiple channels.

Seek out a trustworthy vendor: Your payment processing system is going to be a business-critical part of your life. Be sure to do research to select a trustworthy vendor, keeping in mind that you must confirm how the system will process transactions, which is often done by a third party. Also be sure to ask about transaction fees, being especially careful to investigate any hidden cost.

Choose an option that gives you on-the-go access: These days, small business owners are constantly on-the-go. It’s important you pick a solution that will allow you to connect whenever, wherever so you can view your sales, inventory data, or even margins from the office or on the road. It’s also important to find a vendor that offers strong tech support.

Although a business owner’s main focus may not be on keeping up with all the latest payment options, it’s important to keep sight of what’s next in payment technology. So what is next in ‘smart’ payments? It may be too soon to tell, but it’s certainly apparent that the payments industry is changing and evolving to meet the new and unique needs of consumers. From NFC to the Amazon Dash button, frictionless payments continue to be a major theme, removing the middle man as consumers move into a world of simplicity.

While this is good for consumers, it means small business owners must dedicate more attention to analyzing customer behavior. Luckily, there are a number of resources and tools available to ensure a seamless shopping experience for customers and allow you to focus on running the business rather than the tedious back-end payment process.

John Shapiro

John Shapiro

John Shapiro is director of product management of payments at Intuit