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How to implement a new payment method smoothly

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As a merchant, you know that consumers now expect a wealth of seamless payment options wherever they go. The fact is, you must embrace new methods quickly or risk being left behind.

As payment options have evolved over the last decade, industry commentators have thoroughly analysed the developments in technology and changing customer purchasing habits, including the growing popularity of hybrid online and in store retail experiences like buy online and pick up in store. This leaves merchants no room for misunderstanding that the methods they provide matter.

What none of this tells you is just how to adopt new payment methods. And perhaps that’s because implementing a new payments system is complex, time consuming, and involves numerous stakeholders, as well as complicated technical processes and thorough planning to make sure it’s executed smoothly. The simple fact is, any sort of project delay, or poor execution, could completely interrupt payments for customers, resulting in lost sales and lost revenue. So, it’s hardly a surprise that many merchants struggle to make a change.

However, at Ingenico Enterprise Retail, we’ve developed a methodology for successfully approaching these transition projects, informed by years of experience in delivering fully managed in-store, online and omnichannel payment solutions.

So, we’re sharing some of our most crucial advice for merchants who are considering implementing a new payment method: 

Involve your key stakeholders

Payment methods are a core part of any business, so any change will need the input of experts across your organisation, from marketing and finance personnel to store managers. This requires a huge shift in stakeholder involvement, which, previously, would just have involved the IT technicians.

As such, the first step is to understand the needs of all internal parties involved in the transition, as well as the needs of your customers. Don’t wait around, get their valuable perspective on how a new payments system could make a difference to them early in the process. This will ensure the new system meets their many individual requirements, which will help with adoption, while also minimising disruption during project execution and any issues later down the line.

Establish clear visibility of your current payment system

Of course, every business wants to be using the most exciting new technology and create a buzz by using the latest innovations that the industry is raving about. But every merchant is different, with a unique customer base, size and configuration of estate, and intended retail experience. That doesn’t mean that adopting it into your payment solution is necessarily that it will suit the unique needs of your company.

That’s why involving all stakeholders up front is so important. It’ll give you a clear picture of your existing payments ecosystem and what it will require to meet the company’s current and future needs. Even for a single organisation, this can be enormously complex. Many mature payment systems have evolved organically and grown over many years, and any change to the system could have a huge impact on the entire business.

As such, it’s important to map out your payment ecosystem and paint a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint where things could be changed. This will enable all parties to identify key technical dependencies and risks, and ensure that all facets of the solution are fully tested and piloted before the solution(s) go live.

With the right partner, you will get there

Given how complicated these kinds of projects can be, any supplier must be confident and experienced in managing this complexity. A partner should be able to demonstrate that they can provide the following:

Consultation – It might sound obvious, but payments experts should be able to offer you payment expertise. They should give you confidence that simple solutions are implemented with a low level of risk, and complex solutions are backed up by creativity and deep technical expertise. Any credible partner will assess your business needs and recommend solutions accordingly. If a potential partner agrees to deliver exactly everything that you ask for, whether that’s the implementation deadline, cost, full suite of solution requirements and all, alarm bells should ring. The chances are they’re not the right partner for you. That’s not to say that this isn’t achievable, but as Retail partners we add value through our expertise and consultative approach.

Pre-project planning – Any proposed system must be properly scoped and fully planned out, with all dependencies and risks captured. A credible payment partner will always be transparent about any assumptions to avoid any surprises, and will also be completely honest about the part you need to play to ensure a successful delivery. Be sure to check that a provider will facilitate stakeholder engagement at the outset to truly understand the business requirement and desired business outcomes.

Stability – A robust platform with Enterprise grade Service Level Agreements is essential. A provider should include a robust testing and pilot phase to fully assess the inner workings of a solution and ensure it’s functional, operational, and ready for a smooth rollout.

Transparency – Providers should provide regular updates, and ensure that they can commit to any quality, time or cost targets. As well as this, joint steering committee meetings should give all stakeholders visibility of the project status throughout, and communicate clearly how they will organise, track and govern the delivery of your payment solution. This is an important change for you, but it’s just as important for the payments partner. Your trust in the partnership should be a result of your confidence that things are always under control.

So, what are you waiting for?

Implementing a new payment system isn’t easy, and you shouldn’t attempt it lightly. The crucial thing is not to panic – the experts are here to help, just make sure you find a provider that suits your company’s particular needs. And, by engaging with your key stakeholders, gaining a full understanding of your existing ecosystem, as well as finding a provider to partner with who is able to manage the process smoothly, you can experience the smoothest transition possible.

David Allan, Director of Customer Operations, Ingenico Enterprise Retail