Why Every Merchant Now has to be an E-commerce Merchant

Consumer preferences have shifted to shopping and ordering online, and businesses need to meet their demands.

The year 2020 will go down in history for many firsts. The first pandemic most people have lived through, the first time protective face masks became as commonplace in America as they’ve been in Asia, and the first time retailers ran out of viable excuses for not operating as e-commerce merchants.

As the coronavirus pandemic descended on the U.S. last year and shut store doors nationwide, restaurants and retailers found themselves casting for alternatives to a revenue stream that was quickly running dry. Restaurants fortunate enough to have the foresight to evolve into e-commerce merchants when it mattered most benefited from the sudden surge in online ordering.  And shoppers embraced new ways of retrieving purchases placed online, whether from the safety of their cars via curbside service or limiting the amount of time spent inside brick and mortar, courtesy of buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) services.

How Rapid Changes Impacted Payments

Naturally, you’re wondering how this rapidly shifting landscape affects the world of payments. For one, it means merchants can no longer survive on a bare-bones payment platform. Businesses serving the modern consumer must offer the flexible and feature-rich experience that savvy shoppers require. The right platform not only will be able to manage the standard card-present transactions but must also provide payment gateway functionality that makes card-not-present transactions a breeze for consumers embracing the convenience of the web.

There’s a good reason why e-commerce merchants—which in reality is now every merchant—need one system to do it all. A single, unified point-of-sale solution simplifies reporting and reconciliation, reducing the complexities of managing multiple platforms for each task. The more systems merchants have to touch, the more likely they are to introduce errors and inefficiencies—and no one wants technology to make their lives a hassle.

Online, In-Store

Of course, not every consumer is making all purchases online, but their preferences for in-store payments also changed. COVID-19 sent contactless payments soaring. According to the National Retail Federation, 69 percent of retailers have seen an uptick in “no-touch” payments. About 20 percent of consumers made a tap-and-go payment for the first time during the pandemic, but merchants without NFC-enabled technology are also able to use text-to-pay and QR code payments, leveraging digital payment portals, to create touchless experiences.

Still Finding the Way

More than 10 months into the pandemic, businesses are still coming to grips with operating through lockdowns and reopenings—the fits and starts that make uncertainty the sole constant in a state of unending change. If nothing else, COVID-19 has laid bare the urgent need for businesses to become e-commerce merchants in an effort to ensure their survival when the post-pandemic dust settles. In-person business is likely to return one day as the primary revenue driver for some, but for now, relying on a storefront presence for sales won’t make ends meet.

The coronavirus crisis fanned the flames of a consumer-led digital revolution that overnight leaped from “someday” status to “right now” urgency. No matter what happens tomorrow and the consumer whims that may come and go, businesses must equip themselves with a payment platform that can withstand the winds of change, however they blow. Merchants that give themselves an e-commerce—or better, omnichannel—makeover now will be secure in the knowledge that they’ve laid the foundation for success, whatever the future should bring.