Editor’s Note: This blog entry was originally published on July 6, 2021, and was updated on August 24, 2021.
Commerce enablement has continually evolved throughout history, and that evolution will only continue to accelerate in coming years. In this blog entry, we take a look at some of those milestones throughout the years, as well as what ISVs need to know to ensure their software solution is keeping up with new aspects of commerce enablement technology.
We’ll also share learnings from our recent webinar on The Evolution of Commerce and What’s Next. We’ll cover how ISVs and their merchants can provide an enhanced customer experience that leads to improved customer loyalty, as well as how they can enable their business to drive commerce and increase consumer spending.
Evolution of Commerce Enablement
Financial website Investopedia defines commerce as “the exchange of goods, services, or something of value, between businesses or entities.” The concept of commerce has been around forever, but the methods of enabling commerce have changed throughout time. Here’s a look at a handful of them.
One of the earliest forms of commerce was trading or bartering. People with mutually beneficial needs would make agreements to trade an item of value they owned for another item of value they needed. For example, a farmer who raised dairy cows might agree to trade milk to his neighbor, who raises hens, in exchange for eggs.
The issue with bartering is that the farmer would have to find someone with mutually beneficial needs. If the farmer has milk to trade, but all of his neighbors also raise dairy cows, no one has a need that the farmer can use to his benefit.
This is part of the reason early commerce then shifted to using a specific type of item, such as shells or beads, as currency. This eliminated the obstacle of needing to find someone with mutually beneficial needs, and opened up more flexibility in commerce. Some societies used precious metals such as copper or bronze, eventually taking the form of coins.
Paper currency came into use partially due to long-distance trade. It was easier for long-distance merchants to transport, rather than carrying large amounts of heavier shells or coins.
Checks came into use for similar reasons - their portability and convenience compared to heavier payment methods such as coins. While there is evidence that various forms of checks may have been used in ancient times, use of checks as we know them became widespread in the United States in the early 1900s.
The first credit card in widespread use was the Diners Club card, a small cardboard card that was used to charge travel and entertainment expenses. Businessman Frank McNamara created the Diners’ Club card after forgetting his wallet at a business lunch.
The rise of the Internet enabled a vast new avenue of commerce, known as electronic commerce, or more commonly, eCommerce. eCommerce is defined as “the buying and selling of goods or services via the internet, and the transfer of money and data to complete the sales.”
Examples of larger eCommerce platforms include Amazon and eBay. In addition, various retailers who operate brick-and-mortar stores also now offer online storefronts as well.
Mobile Payments and Contactless Payments
Mobile payments, where consumers use their cellular phone or other smart device to pay, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Types of mobile payments include mobile wallets, mobile payment apps, and text to pay.
Contactless payments, which don’t require physical contact between the payment device and the payment terminal, have seen a spike in use over the past year and a half due to the pandemic. Mobile wallets, contactless payment cards that allow consumers to “tap to pay” or “tap and go,” and card-on-file are just some examples.
What does all this mean for ISVs and their commerce enablement goals? Commerce enablement technology is continuously evolving and improving, and ISVs should ensure their software solution includes the following features in order to help their merchants drive commerce and increase consumer spend.
Consumers have preferences for how they conduct transactions - and those preferences can vary. ISVs should provide versatility within their software solution, such as including functionality for all the different ways consumers want to pay - from checks to credit cards to contactless payments.
These days, the customer journey can span multiple touchpoints. For example, a customer might initially see an item on a retailer’s website, but might end up purchasing the item in-store a week later.
ISVs need to provide software solutions that allow their merchants to provide an omnichannel experience to customers. The customer should find a consistent and personalized experience across those touchpoints.
If an ISV is going to provide all these capabilities within their software solution, does that also equal having to deal with multiple vendors? Not necessarily. Global Payments Integrated is a payments partner that can help ISVs provide a robust software solution that includes commerce enablement tools and more.
Global Payments Integrated’s suite of commerce enablement solutions streamline merchant operations while enhancing the customer experience. They allow merchants to grow their business with innovative communication and payment functions, plus valuable data and insights. Here’s an overview of the tools available for ISVs to integrate into their software solutions for their customers.
Analytics & Reputation Management
Our Analytics & Reputation Management tool is a web-based application that delivers intelligent data to provide deep visibility into:
- Marketing reach
Providing detailed insight into these areas helps businesses to:
- Engage customers
- Drive return visits
Online Appointment Booking & Deposits
Online interactive scheduling at the customer’s convenience not only improves the customer experience, but it also has benefits for the business as well. It can help:
- Streamline operational processes to save time and money
- Reduce no shows and increase cash flow by requiring deposits
- Provide an enhanced customer experience for improved customer loyalty
Innovative Phone & Text Communication
We offer enhanced communication solutions to enrich customer relationships. Our Innovative Phone & Text Communication tool allows businesses to:
- Instantly view customer history, balances and notes before picking up a call
- Use two-way texting to send appointment reminders, directions, updates and more
- Request credit card payments by texting or emailing a secure link for quick, contactless transactions
- Offer contactless self check-in via QR code
- Easily request and collect reviews
Online Forms Management
No one likes walking into a business or medical practice and having to fill out pages of paper forms. Our Online Forms Management tool helps businesses manage and customize the information needed before a customer ever steps through the door. This tool:
- Enables convenience for customers and businesses
- Eliminates hassle with paper forms and data entry errors
- Provides a modern experience for customers
Streamlined Check-In enables an easy and touchless self check-in via QR code to provide peace of mind and convenience to customers while also saving time for businesses.
It provides a modern, digital experience for customers, and allows them to easily verify and update information upon check-in.
Customer Statements is an automated resource that offers contactless pay-by-link functionality. With Customer Statements, businesses can:
- Send outstanding balances anytime or use systematic statement deployment
- Request credit card payments by texting or emailing a secure link
- Allow customers to conveniently and safely pay anytime, anywhere without face-to-face interaction
- Enable customers to make easy online payments without logging into a portal or remembering credentials
Our Call Center tool is designed for merchant groups that want to centralize inbound and/or outbound call activity.
- Find specific services/providers based on location and/or provided services
- Book appointments, update customer demographics, or provide information to the customer
- Outbound Call/Campaign Support:
- Call customers to update demographics, secure appointments for recommended services, and more
Automated Payments upgrades a formerly paper-intensive payment process into a fully automated, virtual card payables solution.
- Easy, seamless integration into ERPs
- Payment and remittance details are securely delivered to suppliers
- Supports both single use and static virtual cards
Consumer Payment Solutions
Eliminate paper checks and cash payouts with these innovative payment solutions:
- Payroll Cards - Make payroll paperless and give employees a convenient way to get paid.
- Tips/Reimbursement - Eliminate in-store cash through real-time payments to tipped/reimbursed employees.
- Disbursements - Non-wage payment solutions to pay customers, vendors, partners.
- Incentives - Incentive and reward programs to build loyalty with customers and employees.
As you can see, commerce enablement is more than just accepting payments. It’s a journey, and Global Payments Integrated helps ISVs and their merchants engage with customers by creating new interaction points along every step of that journey. We enable you to provide an enhanced customer experience that leads to improved customer loyalty. Contact us today to learn how we can help enable your business to drive commerce and increase consumer spending.