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5 Minutes With… BridgerPay’s Ran Cohen

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In the latest instalment of our eCommerce industry executive interview series we spoke to BridgerPay Co-Founder & CEO Ran Cohen (pictured) about the company, the challenges posed by increased PSP demand during the pandemic, the opportunities presented by user-centric digital payments and the importance of payment volumes…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Our vision is to bring together the digital payments world with a unified payment orchestration software that empowers merchants to increase revenue, boost acceptance rates and reduce the cost of processing using just one API integration.

Our product includes all the tools a modern business needs to connect to multiple payment methods, manage, optimize, and report on them with ease. In substance everything that is needed to solve the present and future payments challenges:

  • Bridger Router is a drag-and-drop interface to control a business’s payment stack. It is customizable to any business logic so that the end-user only sees the PSPs they know and want to use
  • We offer a PCI Level 1 compliant checkout that is fully customizable to any brand’s look and feel. There is no need for merchants to invest in this type of tech, we have it ready for them
  • Bridger Safe tokenizes sensitive information, so users can make multiple purchases easily and their data never travels through the merchant’s servers, hence improving security
  • Bridger Retry™ rescues transactions declined for technical reasons by automatically submitting them to another PSP
  • Bridger Reports offer insights on all transactions with one click, so merchants can choose the PSPs that are best for them. We are also a data-driven business and can offer insights based on millions of transactions worldwide
  • We are the only company in the sector that allows merchants to connect to multiple payment providers in a matter of minutes

What have been the biggest challenges the eCommerce/Payments industry has faced over the past 12 months?

There have been two main challenges: the increase in demand due to the pandemic and the need to manage the ever-growing number of PSPs. Businesses need to fulfil this huge pipeline and at the same time do it in a user-friendly manner. These are exactly the problems that BridgerPay solves

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Both the above challenges present great opportunities. Digital payments need to become user-centric, the payment experience needs to be in the spotlight. This is exactly what we do at BridgerPay. For us, any challenge brings an opportunity to grow and we always take it

What is the biggest priority for the eCommerce/Payments industry in 2022?

The priority is always to grow volumes. Margins are lower due to third parties used to boost sales. As a consequence, businesses have become aware of every dollar they spend or save. BridgerPay also helps with this: businesses can choose the PSPs with the best rates for every situation to increase their margins

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?

Growth of buy-now-pay-later solutions, and the challenges posed by 3DS2. Merchants are not technology-ready to provide a smooth payment experience with face recognition, fingerprints, etc.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this coming year?

Payment orchestration. This is a new layer of software, and without it, it will be impossible to implement any modern business logic, and very hard for legacy technologies to scale up. Payment orchestration is the future and will become the standard.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

People will be used to paying in many different ways (for example face recognition both in-store and online). Also, we will be talking about a unified digital currency or wallet.

Which person in, or associated with, the eCommerce/Payments industry would you most like to meet?

Many people don’t consider him a payments guy, but he is very much one. Elon Musk.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the eCommerce/Payments sector?

That the client’s confidence in the payment process is the number one reason for a successful transaction. BridgerPay makes this possible.

You go to the bar at the eTailing/Smarter Payments Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Monkey 47 gin and tonic. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

We haven’t yet met a payments challenge we couldn’t solve .

And what’s the most challenging?

Hiring and growing the team by onboarding the best possible people.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t spend it all at once.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Billionaires 😉

5 Minutes With… Encoded’s Rob Crutchington

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In the latest instalment of our eCommerce industry executive interview series we spoke to Rob Crutchington, Director at Encoded, about the company, the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, the implementation of Secure Customer Authentication and frictionless payment methods…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Encoded offers a range of card payment solutions for all contact centre channels. Our complete payment suite includes IVR Payments, Agent Assisted Payments, eCommerce Payments, Mobile Apps and our latest PayByLink solution. Encoded is also a Payments Gateway.

We work with contact centres and many large brands to provide secure payment solutions that free up valuable agent time, allowing them to focus on customer service, more complex enquiries and revenue generating activities.

What have been the biggest challenges the eCommerce/Payments industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Of course, Covid has been one of the biggest challenges for all businesses. For those contact centres taking payments, the new way of working had serious implications. Suddenly everything changed with people working at home. It became more difficult to maintain a managed environment where security could be controlled and any issues escalated quickly as and when necessary.

With homeworking the environment couldn’t be managed in the same way, compliance became a challenge and we saw a shift towards e-commerce. While a secure link and a ‘soft phone’ could be quickly adopted, the network, an agent’s PC and environment were outside of the organisation’s control. This has led to many companies adopting a ‘Digital First Strategy’ – pushing customers to use digital channels for communication and payments where possible.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

This ‘perfect storm’ of agents working from home and increased e-commerce has been a fantastic opportunity for some companies. While it has provided a challenge for the MOTO (mail order telephone order) sector, the companies that have been able to implement a digital first strategy and provide their customers with alternative payment choices, have been the ones to prosper.

However, I don’t think contact centres will disappear. The gold standard of customer service will always be the personal touch and talking to people. Companies that adopt a digital first strategy will need to think carefully about their customer service goals before choosing new technologies to be sure that they support and not hinder interactions.

What is the biggest priority for the eCommerce/Payments industry in 2021?

The biggest priority has definitely been the implementation of Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) for transactions to comply with the latest version of PSD2. It has been put back slightly, again because of Covid, but is due to be enforced by next March 2022. I think the FCA will expect companies to continue to take robust action to reduce the risk of fraud. If organisations can apply SCA to an e-commerce transaction – they should do so now.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

I think we will continue to see a shift towards e-commerce. Frictionless payment methods will definitely also increase – Alternative Payment Methods (APMs) such as Apple Pay and Google Pay will become more commonplace. We’ve already seen PayPal become more mainstream, particularly in Europe. The increase in the contactless payment amount to £100 in October will support this trend.

With this greater payment flexibility, I also think that we will see a necessary step-up in security, with more two factor authentication processes in place to validate cardholders’ details across all payment channels.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this coming year?

From my viewpoint I think a blend of services like pay-by-link options and open banking will have a big impact. Open banking has already brought financial and consumer policies into the 21st century and created a competitive environment in both banking and payment technology.

Open banking helps customers manage and make more of their money by allowing secure access to their banking and other financial data. Opting into the new apps and services gives people more control over their finances.  The security and speed of these technologies will drive adoption. We have already seen younger customers, familiar with using their phone and apps see the benefits and flexibility that they offer.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Having a Digital First Strategy will be top of the agenda. If a company is processing or accepting a customer’s card data, they will opt for a digital first solution.  This approach will go beyond the ability to check balances and make payments to more complex tasks and the entire customer journey.  For example, fintech companies such as Monzo, Starling and Revolut have digital only propositions offering services through digital channels without manual intervention.    The traditional ways of accepting payments will disappear as digitally secure forms of payment take precedence with new apps and open banking. Open banking has already given customers and SMEs greater market choice and greater control over their money and data in a secure environment, which will only continue to increase in popularity.

Which person in, or associated with, the eCommerce/Payments industry would you most like to meet?

Mark Carney ex-Governor of the Bank of England. I suspect he has many stories to tell and no longer being Governor, he might feel more inclined to tell them.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the eCommerce/Payments sector?

I am always impressed by the way the payment industry continues to work together to tackle fraud.  The landscape is constantly changing, but the payments industry is always introducing innovations, adopting new technologies and ways to combat criminal activity to prevent customers having their card data and personal identity information stolen.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

For me it is signing a new customer and developing a long-term relationship with them. I always remember where I was when we first got the go ahead from new customers – from the smaller ones to some of the larger brands like BMW, Toyota and Samsung Electronics. Whoever the customer, I still get a thrill when working with them to help solve their payment challenges.

And what’s the most challenging?

With the payment industry constantly changing and new legislation, it certainly keeps us on our toes.  This year, however, I think dealing with the Covid pandemic has been the most challenging. I worked in the office alone for a lot of the time and really missed the energy of having colleagues in the same room. There is normally a real buzz working alongside bright people and it has just not been the same with everyone working remotely.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The saying “Always surround yourself with people better than yourself”, attributed to Henry Ford, resonates with me. At Encoded we have built a brilliant team of people over the years and I really value the different skills and experiences that they bring to their roles. I think I have appreciated this even more over the last twelve months when the team has worked consistently hard under difficult circumstances.

5 Minutes With… Linnworks CEO Callum Campbell

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In the latest instalment of our eCommerce industry executive interview series, we spoke to Linnworks CEO Callum Campbell about his company, the challenges the sector has faced over the last 12 months and its biggest opportunities going forward…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Linnworks is a leading commerce automation platform that works with the world’s major marketplaces and sales channels including Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento. Linnworks enables businesses to manage their multi-channel inventory, orders and fulfilment from a single dashboard and provides deep insights across sales channels and operations. Our mission is to help brands sell better by providing control and automation to their ecommerce operations.

Linnworks customers become total brands that can conduct commerce wherever their customers are. These are brands that are winning now and confident in their future. Through us, brands become totally empowered by not missing out on any opportunity to transact with customers and deliver on the promise of their brand.

By equipping brands and retailers to conduct commerce wherever their customers are, Linnworks powers businesses to drive growth and boost brand success. As both Amazon and eBay’s largest European commerce partner, Linnworks serves some of the world’s biggest brands including Ford, Belkin, Oatly, Toyota, Casio and FOCO.

What have been the biggest challenges the eCommerce  industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The major challenge for brands is ‘connection’ –  staying connected to their customers in the multiple environments where they are spending time, and connecting and automating commerce operations. Brands must overcome the complexity and cost of integrating technology and adapting processes to bring centralised commerce control across multiple channels, simultaneously. Linnworks solves this connection problem, making it easier for brands to take advantage of the growth of multi-channel commerce and participate in the effortless economy.

Consumers now want an effortless shopping journey, from discovery to delivery, so retailers need to consider each step of their transaction experience as part of their brand. This includes everything from product discovery to the checkout experience, shipping and payment options and the returns process. Brands must not only have a multi-channel selling strategy, but they also need to build a seamless end-to-end experience for their customers. When it comes to choosing a tool, retailers should aim to simplify their tech stack and select a solution that enables them to manage all commerce operations from one central dashboard or location. This includes inventory management, order management, payment solutions management, fulfillment, shipping and delivery management.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Online shopping increased dramatically in 2020, and while Linnworks found that many consumers plan to return to in-store purchasing, consumers have also become accustomed to the convenient services that were offered via online shopping during the pandemic and expect them to stay. Everything is now just a click away, and consumers expect the checkout process in their purchase journey to be no different. According to recent Linnworks consumer research, 46% of consumers will actually sacrifice cost savings for an overall convenient shopping experience, so implementing flexible payment solutions is one step in enabling a frictionless end-to-end experience for users. Additionally, customer demographics are changing. Millennials tend to be much more focused on the now versus saving money for the future, and more than half don’t have a credit card. Therefore, younger shoppers are looking for alternative solutions such as buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) which can enable their shopping habits and support convenience preferences. So for retailers, offering flexible payment options is a key component in enabling a frictionless purchase journey and delivering the purchase experience customers value, and therefore are more likely to drive loyalty and repeat purchases in the future.

5 Minutes With… Cas Paton, OnBuy

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In the latest instalment of our eCommerce executive interview series, we sat down with OnBuy Managing Director Cas Paton to talk about his company, industry trends, career advice and Peaky Blinders…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

OnBuy is one of the fastest-growing marketplaces in the world. With our fair, transparent approach, we can offer a better deal to buyers and sellers. 

Sellers can sell through a marketplace that has their best interests at heart: we offer competitive fees, don’t compete against them, and support them in growing their business. Buyers can use a marketplace that offers a seamless shopping experience with over 17 million products, competitive prices, PayPal protection and more.

Already one of the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces, OnBuy has plans to expand worldwide and become the world’s first truly global marketplace. Watch this space!

What have been the biggest challenges the E-Commerce industry has faced over the past 12 months?

While the e-commerce industry is rapidly growing, the question of trustworthiness is still an issue online, and I think it will be for some time yet. People can be understandably wary of trusting online shops – areas like data protection and security (including site and payment security), fraudulent transactions, and fake/paid-for reviews can add to their concerns. Thankfully, there are ways in which retailers can tackle this – if they prioritise these areas, they can earn consumer trust.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

For me, the cross-border opportunities identified have been the biggest. For online retailers, cross-border expansion is a seamless way to obtain global product visibility and as a marketplace planning to go global, we’re perfectly positioned to help online sellers make the transition without the challenges that usually accompany such expansion.

OnBuy’s UK marketplace model has proven successful, so we’re planning to expand OnBuy into 140 new countries. This is one of the biggest growth opportunities available to sellers at the moment – we’re going to launch into more countries than any other marketplace and become the world’s first truly global marketplace. We’ll handle everything for our sellers; we have the technology to help with translation and currency ready to go.

What is the biggest priority for E-commerce in 2020?

I can think of two: trade agreements to make duties simple for exporting and solving Brexit quickly so we know what we’re dealing with!

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

I expect we’ll see more cross-border expansion, more high value orders, and more subscription services to replace what was previously a single large purchase – especially in gaming. 

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

5G networks have the potential to make a huge impact. As 5G offers faster connectivity than wired networks, it could have a transformative effect on business by helping people buy, sell, pay and communicate faster.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

AI. In addition to streamlining internal processes like managing inventory, AI can help enhance the customer experience. An AI assistant or chatbot can mimic the personal interaction we’re used to in physical shops and having it fulfil all your customer service needs – like helping customers with purchases, recommending products, assisting with complaints – can save you valuable time and resources.

Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?

Richard Branson. As a driven entrepreneur myself, I’d love to meet him and hear any insights he could offer about his decades in the industry.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the E-commerce sector?

Out of the past 12 years in e-commerce, it was learning that Amazon isn’t actually perceived as good for small to medium businesses in the way that many once thought it was. In 2010-2012, Amazon was an opportunity for online retailers and continued to be for several years thereafter – but the feedback we receive now is that Amazon is a hurdle in the way of growth and an ever-growing competitor.

This growing discontentment helped pave the way for OnBuy to enter the market which I’m naturally thrilled about, but it was still surprising to hear that something with such strong positive potential has actually affected many sellers negatively.

You go to the bar at the E-Commerce Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A good white wine or a beer. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Driving something that I’m extremely passionate about. I love hunting for new ways to evolve OnBuy and working with my team to put them into action and take OnBuy to the next level. Plus, no two days are the same which keeps me on my toes!

And what’s the most challenging?

As the business evolves, new challenges are always being presented but I must say I love a challenge, so I welcome them. We’ve cleared the initial hurdles of setting up a marketplace – attracting sellers with no buyers and vice versa – and we’re now focused on the best ways to seamlessly roll OnBuy out worldwide. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Get off the hamster wheel, stop spinning, and look back at what you’re doing. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day but taking time to step outside of the business and reflect is absolutely crucial.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

Peaky Blinders all the way! No question.