In recent years, the Philadelphia area has been home to a growing community of rising tech stars. Last month at the CardConnect offices, approximately 40 of those stars came together for FinTech PHL’s fourth official meetup, “Tech Innovation and Growth at CardConnect,” which also happened to be the first one of the year.
If you aren’t familiar with FinTech PHL, let’s back up. An organization formed in 2015, it “brings together technologists, business leaders, entrepreneurs and academics who are interested in the convergence of financial services and technology.”
They’ve got three areas of focus:
1. Promote the work of local companies
2. Connect local talent with hiring managers
3. Nurture a community of innovators and collaborators right here in Philadelphia
Over a dinner of Chipotle and beer, tech leaders, passionate entrepreneurs and growing professionals spent time meeting one another and talking about their latest endeavors, and what’s been happening in the Philly tech scene lately.
While some were caught up in energetic conversation, others took tours of the new CardConnect offices. After the group had done some valuable networking, CardConnect COO Patrick Shanahan and VP of Technology Nick Aceto took the stage and shared some insights about the tech evolution of CardConnect’s payment processing solutions like the CardPointe platform, and what’s been coming down the pipeline. They also shared details about the network of different teams at CardConnect, both operational and technological, and available opportunities for those interested.
We were thrilled to host such an enthusiastic group of tech pros and we thank the night’s organizer and FinTech PHL leader David Whitaker for the opportunity. Here’s to many more meetups!
by Taylor Havlisch
Taylor is CardConnect's Product Marketing Manager and might reveal her suppressed Minnesota accent for you, if you ask nicely.
Running a Business Aug 27 2018
In 2017 a report by Brightpearl; the ‘The State of Omnichannel’, revealed that an impressive 87% of retailers now agree that an omnichannel strategy is a critical business function. Omnichannel retailing helps to boost the lifetime value of customers, increase consumer spending and improve the buying experience. This fully integrated approach is proving popular with both retailers and shoppers. Omnichannel shopping is now an accepted, and expected, retail concept, yet technology and innovation are seeing things evolve once more. Retailers are starting to look at ways to push the boundaries of omnichannel retail even further, and by doing this, they aim to create a fully integrated, omnichannel ecosystem for their customers to experience. This ecosystem will make for a smoother and more seamless customer experience, which is crucial for shoppers, and an exciting prospect for the future of retail. In order to visualise what a fully integrated and connected shopping experience may look like, and how businesses can utilize this approach, CardConnect has taken a closer look at the future of omnichannel retail, and what an ‘Omnichannel Ecosystem’ might look like. Click the omnichannel ecosystem map below. WHAT IS OMNICHANNEL RETAIL? The advent of multichannel retail For years and years, the only real option shoppers had when they wanted to purchase a product was to go to the retailer’s physical premises, known also as brick-and-mortar stores, and buy it in person. As online shopping became more popular and more accessible, a large number of retailers launched ecommerce sites in order to increase the number of shopping avenues available to their customers. Having access to both digital and physical buying options was the beginning of multi-channel retail. In virtually all cases, the online and offline buying experience would be completely separate. Online orders would be purchased digitally and then fulfilled by post, while physical buying would be done in store. The advent of online shopping heralded the beginning of multi-channel retail and provided customers with improved choice and better buying options. Taking multi-channel retail to an integrated next level Omnichannel retail takes things one step further. Instead of providing a choice of services across various platforms, omnichannel retail gives customers a smooth and integrated experience throughout the entire buying process. Whether they’re browsing via a mobile device, using social media to interact with a business, or going into a physical premises to make a purchase, an omnichannel strategy ensures the entire experience is seamless. An omnichannel approach allows customers to browse a brand’s products or services via a range of different devices, and through a variety of social media and ecommerce sites. If an omnichannel strategy is properly implemented, customers should find that they get a consistent experience when using any platform: social media, smartphone, or ecommerce site and when visiting a brick-and-mortar store in person. All of these platforms should be fully integrated to ensure the customer receives the highest level of service, and that the products and overall approach of the company is an enjoyable and seamless process. Omnichannel retailing should optimise multiple sales channels at the same time in order to capitalize on the customer experience, bringing about a high level of integration between those channels to benefit consumers. THE CURRENT STATE OF OMNICHANNEL RETAIL What the statistics say about omnichannel retail As you begin to look more closely at omnichannel retailing, you’ll discover a number of statistics that make a very compelling case for this integrated and optimized approach. For example, companies with effective omnichannel engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. This is compared to just 33% for businesses with weak or nonexistent integrated retail strategies. Research from the Harvard Business Review revealed that the more channels a customer uses when making a purchase, the more valuable they’ll be to the retailer over their lifetime. On average, omnichannel shoppers spend 4% more on every shopping trip than their mono-channel counterparts. Omnichannel retailing is a hugely valuable strategy for businesses. The offering of more shopping channels to a customer means they have multiple options to make a purchase and spend more money. Those who use four or more touchpoints to make their purchase spend an average of 9% more than single-channel shoppers. Overall, omnichannel shoppers could be worth up to 30% more to retailers over their lifetime, compared to customers who use just one channel to make their purchases. Who uses omnichannel retail? People of all ages use both online and offline channels when looking to purchase a product. While Baby Boomers prefer to use a more mono-channel approach to make their purchases, Millennials are one of the groups most likely to take a broader approach to buying. In fact, around 68% of Millennials now demand the convenience of an omnichannel approach during their shopping journey. Baby Boomers and Gen X aren’t adverse to online shopping, in fact Gen X spend 50% more time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts. However, the people in these age groups are more likely to head into a brick-and-mortar store to make their final purchase. A massive 84% of Baby Boomers prefer to buy products in person, due to their high level of expectations in customer service. These generations are also likely to use review sites and ecommerce sites to inform their opinion before making a final buying decision. As most generations have already become accustomed to using a variety of platforms to research and purchase products, the move to a fully integrated omnichannel strategy will be a natural progression for people of all ages. This should give retailers an increased confidence when it comes to adopting an omnichannel approach. The customer journey Traditionally, the customer journey was short and simple. Once they had discovered a product and engaged with a brand, shoppers would place an order and make payment before collecting their item or having it delivered. These days however, the process is a little different. Customers now want more options at every stage of their buying journey. In 2000, 66.2% of consumers used a total of two touch points when making a purchase and just 7.3% used four or more touch points, before making payment. In 2015, the number of people using between three and seven touchpoints had increased to 74%. A common omnichannel customer journey now involves browsing a company website, visiting their brick-and-mortar stores, and extensive product research via customer reviews, apps, and social media. This investigative process happens before any transaction is made. As we enter 2019, the research phase of the customer journey is especially important. Consumers will explore multiple online avenues, including social media networks, review sites and ecommerce sites before making a final decision. What’s more, 55% of shoppers will visit a brick-and-mortar store before making a purchase. Future predictions: creating an omnichannel ecosystem When retailers moved from multi-channel retail to a more integrated omnichannel approach, it founded a much smoother and more efficient shopping experience for their customers. The next stage of the journey is to evolve from omnichannel retail to a fully functioning omnichannel retail ecosystem. An omnichannel ecosystem will allow retailers to use expansive networks of partners, vendors and digital services to provide shoppers with a completely seamless experience, giving their customers exactly what they want. This evolution in omnichannel retail will be driven by data mining. Using what’s known as ‘big data’, will provide companies with the information they need to successfully market their products and services, and to provide shoppers with the smooth, integrated experience they expect. THE IMPORTANCE OF ADOPTING AN OMNICHANNEL ECOSYSTEM Why companies should invest in omnichannel ecosystems Omnichannel retail is a highly effective way of retaining customers and boosting the lifetime value of those customers. Adopting a fully integrated ecosystem will take the convenience and personalization of omnichannel retail even further, and the benefits that a business could gain from this approach are likely to be extremely high. Research from the Harvard Business Review showed that the more touchpoints a customer uses, the more they end up spending. If businesses can keep customers within their ecosystem, seamlessly moving from touchpoint to touchpoint, then the customer’s overall expenditure is likely to be even higher. The benefits of an omnichannel ecosystem For consumers, the main benefits of an omnichannel retail ecosystem will be increased convenience and personalization. For businesses, it’s likely to be a boost in profits. As a result, omnichannel payment systems are becoming a focal point of interest for businesses worldwide. When it comes to payment acceptance, an omnichannel approach ensures that customers have a variety of options available to them at the checkout. As well as using standard card payment methods, customers are becoming increasingly more expectant of options like PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and payment on collection when making a purchase. Businesses should ensure that all of these payment options are available to your customers across all platforms. This is crucial to the successful implementation of an omnichannel ecosystem. HOW TO NAVIGATE THE OMNICHANNEL ECOSYSTEM Touchpoints of an omnichannel ecosystem In an omnichannel ecosystem, all elements of the buying process are interconnected. Although a customer may begin by visiting your website, they may decide to continue shopping in-store, browsing via their mobile device, or using social media. In a true omnichannel ecosystem, even your call centres will need to be part of the retail web. Interlaced around the customer journey are a large number of supporting elements. A choice of retail channels, integrated digital business tools, market research and effective fulfillment and payment options all help to create a comprehensive and seamless omnichannel ecosystem. Factors to take into account when developing an omnichannel strategy Although all omnichannel ecosystems will have the majority of services in common, each ecosystem will need to be uniquely tailored to suit the retailer implementing the strategy, and the customers they hope to serve. When designing an omnichannel strategy, it’s important to focus on the customer experience. The majority of consumers now expect a strong correlation between online and offline stores, meaning that your branding, your corporate image and your level of customer service should be the same across all platforms. Ideally, you want the entire customer experience to be intuitive, effortless and seamless. In order to achieve this, you may need to invest in specialized IT support, or potentially look into redeveloping your ecommerce site. Using a system where customers need to login to your online store can be a good way to monitor unique shopping habits. This could also allow you to identify your customers more easily, so that when they get in touch either in-store or by phone, you have all of their information at hand, enabling you to personalize their experience. While cost is likely to be a factor when creating your ecosystem, the highly proven increase in revenue from omnichannel retail will ensure that your business sees a return on investment. Optimizing each channel in an omnichannel experience Although you’ll need to look at your ecosystem as a whole to ensure that it to works smoothly and logically, it’s also important to optimize each step of the process individually. Optimizing your omnichannel approach will take time and research, but the rewards for both your business and the customer will be worth the investment. Look at the ways your customers currently interact with your company, talk and engage with your customers about how you could enhance their shopping experience, and which elements of omnichannel retail are most important to them. The data gained from this research should give you a good indication of where to focus your energies, and which aspects of optimization will bring you the biggest results. If you’re intending to hire third parties to provide you with omnichannel services, it’s important to use businesses with experience in this area. Companies that understand what you’re trying to achieve will be far better positioned to provide you with the support you need as you build your integrated omnichannel ecosystem. It is fast becoming the expected standard that customers are given at least some level of omnichannel availability when shopping, both online and in person. By working to create and implement a comprehensive strategy, you can begin to offer your customers an enhanced buying experience, and better informed, personalized interaction. Omnichannel retail is continually proving to be incredibly popular with consumers from all demographics, therefore your strategy, if properly implemented, should yield greater profits, enhanced customer loyalty and a future-proof online and offline presence. Click to see the full omnichannel ecosystem map.
Ellie Delany Running a Business Aug 9 2018
Maintaining PCI compliance may not be a priority for budding businesses at the start, but it’s certainly not a responsibility to be overlooked. Keeping compliance in mind is important when building a business from the ground up, because if the infrastructure isn’t based on a secure design, it will most likely need rebuilding at some point, which may require additional time and resources not initially anticipated. The larger a business grows, the more difficult and time consuming it can become to make these fundamental changes. Our Vice President of Information Security, Justin Shipe, and Director of Infrastructure, Aaron Largent, shared some important advice with PaymentsSource on how to make sure your start-up is considering PCI compliance from the beginning, and at all stages of growth. Check out a few highlights, but don’t forget to read the full article on PaymentsSource. Find and partner with a qualified security assessor (QSA). A QSA is a professional trained by the PCI Security Standards Council to help your business identify the best solutions to improve your security protocols and manage compliance. Design and segment your networks. Segmenting your network is essential to reducing your PCI scope, and with high-priority data constantly in transfer, it’s important to keep appropriate separation of information. Always use firewalls. Implementing firewalls between network segments is required for PCI compliance, and allows you to segregate networks according to data level. Restrict access to sensitive data.Sensitive data that’s stored should be accessible to as few employees as possible, and only if it’s essential for an employee to do their job. Tokenization is key when it comes to card data.Tokenization can provide the maximum level of security when it comes to cardholder data. If a hacker gains access to your system, but all of your account numbers are tokenized, the exposure and impact can be reduced. Make sure to monitor your networks. Don’t neglect proper monitoringonce networks are designed and implemented – do the research to identify tools that can automate the monitoring process. Curious about the other tips Justin and Aaron shared on how to keep your start-up PCI-compliant? Click to read the full article.
Taylor Havlisch Secure Payments Jun 26 2018
If we told you that the frequency of data breaches has been on a steady rise for years, it’s unlikely you’d really be surprised at all. Data breaches are here to stay, which is why it’s so important to take seriously the standards put in place by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). Our Vice President of Information Security, Justin Shipe, shared some great advice with PaymentsSource this month to help organizations become and remain PCI compliant. We really think it’s worth reading his full article (download is below), but if you’re short on time, check out a few of his best tips. Networks can be built with compliance in mind. If you’re hoping to expand your business (and you probably are), pay attention to how your network is built from the start and make sure PCI compliance is considered. Compliance isn’t just about checking boxes. Pay attention to your system and really get to know your level of PCI compliance with tools like a Self-Assessment Questionnaire. You can’t just outsource PCI compliance. Getting help from resources outside of your business is a great idea for managing PCI compliance, but don’t let it stop there. It’s important for you to also have an understanding of your own network’s security. There are ways to decrease “PCI Scope.” Do your research, understand the standards and select partners that will help you keep your PCI scope to a minimum. There are milestones for prioritizing PCI DSS compliance efforts. Using the resources available to you to remain informed about the PCI standards, like the “Prioritized Approach to Pursue PCI DSS Compliance,” will help you manage compliance in the long-run. You aren’t alone in this data security and compliance fight. Data breaches have the potential to impact every single business owner, which is why understanding the PCI SSC standards has become so important. Click to read the full article from Justin.