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What’s the difference, and 7 tips to get you orchestrating

Are you missing out on opportunities to optimize your payments stack, boost sales and work data harder? Here’s why raising the bar on payments orchestration can help lift your competitive game.

Online payments are very complex, with multiple channels, payment types, processors, service providers, unique fraud and regulations that vary in every country. In-store complexities are even greater, with payment stacks often growing organically or through acquisitions instead of strategically.

Whatever your channel and reach, stepping back and consolidating to a payments orchestration platform (POP) makes sense. It will help you simplify operations, optimize resources and reduce costs. It can also improve conversions and reduce manual processes and costs by optimizing fraud KPIs for acceptance, challenges, denials, chargebacks and false positives.

POPs are one of the hottest payment trends. Every vendor has staked a claim, but all solutions are not the same.

If you’re hungry to take advantage of POPs, you may already have an in-house or off-the-shelf gateway that is helping you coordinate your payment rails. While these solutions may make life easier, they can often fall short of full-scale orchestration. That means they may not be able to keep up with your changing needs – especially if you’re a larger merchant with international operations and cross-border sales.

As more vendors enter the market, there’s increasing noise around POP functionality. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and confused by tech spec and end up making decisions based on team personality, price or promotion. This can leave you with a solution that overpromises and underperforms, leaving your business facing a capability gap that widens with time.

There’s more to great orchestration than a gateway and good connectors.

While orchestration solutions may contain one or many gateways, their capability should extend far beyond it – for example, with smart routing, intuitive fraud detection, currency recognition, analysis and strong connections to payments-adjacent processes and services.

You can coordinate payments with a gateway, but you can’t orchestrate. An analogy would be trying to conduct a symphony with a string quartet rather than a full orchestra. You can make music, but it won’t create the performance and depth you desire. You can learn more about the differences in our blog Payment Gateways vs. Payments Orchestration: What’s the difference, and why it matters.

Is your POP up to the job?

There are three simple questions that can help you determine if your POP is giving you all you need:

  1. Does it allow you to create a best-in-class solution from the entire payments and fraud ecosystem?
  2. Can you centralize and analyze data to gain better insight to drive new customer journeys and experiences that increase conversions and revenue?
  3. Does its involvement stop when the funds are in your merchant account, or does it continue the heavy lifting across the entire payments function by helping you to balance the books, manage chargebacks and pay intermediaries or partners?

If the answer to any of the above is “no,” then you may be missing out on the performance your business needs to drive growth.

Why is shifting from basic coordination to true end-to-end orchestration important?

With a true POP, you get more functionality, more flexibility and more connectivity. You can benefit from higher conversion, growth and cost management by delivering customer-centric journeys and optimizing payments acceptance. You can also increase the volume of endpoints that can be connected, such as acquirers, alternative payment models and wallets – as well as customer touch points, including mobile, in-store, Internet of Things and digital.

When choosing a POP, how can you make sure you get it right?

Here are 7 tips to help you choose wisely:

  1. Establish a starting point. Identify where your payments function is now. Take time to analyze your needs and processes to identify shortfalls in current systems and determine what improvements will have the biggest impact.
  2. Involve decision makers from multiple disciplines in your organization. Great POPs should work to enhance every aspect of your organization, so consider their needs for data, insight, choice and functionality too.
  3. Do your research. Draw up a list of functions that you are not prepared to compromise on – and stick to it during any negotiations. Does the POP act like a business intelligence tool and give a consolidated view of everything for decision making, but you must go out to individual solutions to implement changes, or is everything modifiable from within the platform?
  4. Work with proven vendors or consultants to make sure that their capabilities are aligned with your current goals and your long-term ambitions. Ask to see performance models and how they align with your KPIs.
  5. Examine pricing models carefully. Understand what you’re really getting for your investment – which features are optional and cost more, and what happens to price as you scale up.
  6. Don’t limit your horizons. Your business is constantly evolving and so should your payments. Future-proof your POPs by choosing one that can connect to as many channels, providers and touchpoints as possible so it can accommodate your changing needs, providing a longer life cycle with a higher ROI.

Get stakeholder commitment to invest in the best. Having a great business case helps. Do this by moving the conversation from just cost reduction and CX optimization to improved margin, conversion and retention. Help the C-suite understand that all POPs are not the same and that there is a world of difference between payments coordination (that makes payments easier) and true payments orchestration (that makes payments easier AND helps grow your revenue and expand your business.)

Finally, choose POP partners that can support you long term.

While the right technology is a key factor in success, you also need to make sure you have the right teamwork and support. That means choosing partners, like ACI, that can not only deliver the best capability, but also the expertise and services you need to ensure it is optimized for your business, audiences and markets. Established players, with collaborative mindsets and agile approaches, can make the difference between a smooth ride or a bumpy transition.

Want to know more about payments orchestration optimization?

  1. Read The Complete Guide to Merchant Payments Orchestration
  2. Explore your options and discover payments orchestration best practices in our new eBook: Moving From Payments Coordination to Payments Orchestration
  3. Find out more about the ACI Payments Orchestration Platform
eCommerce and Omnichannel Merchants - Marketing

Terry is a seasoned marketing professional with over 30 years of experience. While he has worked in payments for only five years, he has experience with both eCommerce and omnichannel merchants as well as with payment intermediaries. He enjoys building and repairing things with his hands and coming up with innovative ideas to solve complex problems.