Building a technological foundation for the hyper-personalized, omnichannel retail of the future

Retail of the future is an evolving vision. In the last few years, retailers have had to rapidly adapt to a vast array of changing consumer behaviors and new technology in an increasingly overlapping digital and physical marketplace. How can retailers create a technology foundation to innovate and adapt to even more complexity and optionality?


9 minute read

Key takeaways

  • Retailers face a unique pressure for technology change as consumer demands expand and competition for customer engagement and loyalty reach new highs.
  • As the value of payments in user journeys increases, retailers need to support hyper-personalization and overlapping omnichannel capabilities with higher levels of payment optionality.
  • To make informed payment investment choices, retailers need to know their customers better than ever. To do this requires a complete view of payment data that a comprehensive global bank can provide.

Almost every industry is feeling the pressure of technology transformation as the speed of change increases exponentially. However, the change is arguably the most extreme and even existential for retailers on the front lines of consumer interactions. Creating customer journeys that are engaging and seamless and maintaining a consistent experience across multiple overlapping channels is the only way forward.


Consumer expectations are evolving at a breakneck pace. The omnichannel capabilities needed to engage with customers go beyond mobile applications and web presence to smart cars, appliances, social media and a host of niche ecosystems. Consumers expect the speed and simplicity of digital interactions in physical stores. Hyper-personalization requires each interaction to be connected and informed. A secure checkout experience online and touchless or unattended in-store consumer journeys are table stakes, while virtual and augmented realities are opening up completely new experiences.


This pace and scale of change require all areas of the business to innovate through the development or integration of an array of niche applications. Headless commerce has become the best-practice means of containerizing each component and connecting to core infrastructure through flexible API gateways to reduce the scale and cost of IT transformation projects and allow retailers to be more nimble in adopting the latest technologies. 

“Payment technology has the ability to differentiate a consumer experience and maximize sales conversion.”

“For retailers, payments have also become a critical element of the retail user journey,” says Robin Reodica, Senior Vice President of Product Management Merchant Services, at Bank of America. “Payment technology has the ability to differentiate a consumer experience and maximize sales conversion. While the right options and choice of payment methods are critical, it also needs to be so seamless that it is essentially invisible,” he adds. With these trends in mind, retailers need to think strategically about an infrastructure that will be flexible enough to adapt to expanding and targeted customer needs.

Know your customers like never before

To make the right infrastructure choices in this environment of more complexity and unprecedented competition for consumer focus and loyalty, retailers need to understand their customers' needs and patterns of behavior like never before.


The range of payment options is constantly increasing, from reward points and digital wallets to payments directly from accounts and credit services like “buy now, pay later.” The importance of a payment mechanism in sales conversion means that the form of payment is increasingly customized across user groups and channels. However, the challenge is how to prioritize the funding and resource investments that align with the right consumer needs.


Customization and hyper-personalization require insights from the right sources of data. For retailers that are able to source complete and rich payables and receivables data, the opportunities go beyond more accurate cash flow forecasting to enable a deeper understanding of customer and supplier behaviors that can drive better choices in payment infrastructure. For some, this may require consolidating data from a number of different payment and technology providers. However, by using a financial institution payments partner like Bank of America, integrated, multifaceted (e.g., acquirer and issuer data) and nicely packaged analytics can quickly unlock the insight a retailer needs. 

Retailers and their payment systems built for adaptability

While deeper insights into customer behaviors can improve decision-making, most retailers will know the frustration of unforeseen complexity and integration issues that can plague system development and integration projects. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly half of retailers regretted one or more software choices in the last year1, highlighting the inherent risk in any new system purchase or development.


Starting with an adaptable and flexible foundational infrastructure is the key to reducing the risk of technology innovation and maximizing the potential to reap the rewards from new system investments to back up business plans and build confidence with stakeholders. As expanding customer expectations lead to more niche applications, an adaptable foundation needs to bring together all of these capabilities without individual, siloed data and infrastructure. This is why headless commerce has become the norm as a containerized development framework that helps compartmentalize the development of microservices to reduce complexity, cost, and risk while ensuring connectivity and shared data. 

“This same microservices concept and approach is also critical for a truly global and adaptable payment offering.”

“This same microservices concept and approach is also critical for a truly global and adaptable payment offering,” says Juan Garrido, SVP, Head of Merchant Services Product, Global Banking at Bank of America. He continues, “To cost-effectively access a comprehensive range of innovative and alternative payment infrastructures requires a payment platform that operates on the concept of headless commerce, allowing optionality and seamless integration to support consistent development of dependent systems across the globe.”

Connectivity at the core of global capabilities

As retailers grapple with expanding customization goals and consumer payment choices, the complexity is compounded by the fact that each country and region will have specific payment priorities and emerging trends. As we have written in a previous article, payments are changing everywhere, and the drivers of regional payment trends range from pure market forces to high levels of government intervention and regulation. With different regional technologies, acceptance requirements and regulations, the global payment landscape is likely to increase in complexity and fragmentation.


This further highlights the need for large retail companies to build optionality and flexibility into their core infrastructure while leveraging the support of their relationship banks to understand regional payment trends and access a full range of payment capabilities now, as well as ensuring development plans are really fit for all the potential future scenarios. 


When it comes to global payments, Bank of America is committed to an open API architecture. The bank’s global payment platform and full set of financial solutions are built with ease of integration in mind, allowing us to rapidly integrate the capabilities that are needed for an international, omnichannel merchant ecosystem. Bank of America has access to data within each industry (such as card member usage, market penetration and payment acceptance), which can provide a retailer with a detailed data view specific to their segment or business vertical. This simplifies investment and development choices and provides access to a range of supporting capabilities like dynamic multicurrency conversion, virtual cards and intelligent receivables to improve automation and enrich payment data.


Speak to your relationship manager today to understand how our microservices approach to payment infrastructure and our continued investment in regional payment capabilities can support the global payment platform for the vast array of capabilities needed for retail of the future.