First Data recently unveiled the company’s perspective on what it calls Universal Commerce, or the new reality where increased information and technology sophistication and access are transforming today’s commerce. Like larger businesses evaluating this ongoing evolution, small businesses should also determine how they will evolve as they sit at crossroads of retail, e-commerce and mobile commerce where countless opportunities exist to create a more integrated and personalized experience for today’s connected consumers.
Consumers are leveraging technology in ways that change commerce as we currently know it. Small businesses have to adapt by giving consumers convenient, consistent access to the applications they need regardless of whether they are at home, walking down the street, shopping in their favorite store, or somewhere in between. Examples include allowing customers to make purchases via an online store and pick up the merchandise at the physical store and providing customers with alerts when product is available or new inventory comes in. In addition, the new First Data OfferWise solution allows merchants to offer deals, eCoupons and loyalty programs electronically to one or more of a consumer’s payment cards or mobile wallet to enable streamlined and automatic redemption of the offer at the point of sale.
Universal Commerce depends on these essential building blocks: smart devices, data analytics, integrated applications and an enabling infrastructure, all accessing data in the cloud. However, small businesses do not have to solve these questions alone. Integration partners are the glue that binds the Universal Commerce strategy. Small businesses can work with a partner or partners that have relationships across the full Universal Commerce ecosystem, and take advantage of today’s opportunities to thrive by providing a consistent, seamless consumer engagement experience.
Brian Goudie is senior vice president of Revenue Sharing Alliances at First Data.