What Is Payments Orchestration? Everything Merchants Need To Know

Payments orchestration is key to an efficient and customer-friendly checkout process. Here’s how ecommerce merchants can start orchestrating their payments.


November 17, 2023

Consumer placing an ecommerce order

Your customer has reached the home stretch. After responding to targeted advertising, clicking through to your homepage, trading you their email for a 15% off coupon and browsing your store, they’ve added a new subscription product to their cart. They enter their credit card details, hit the “purchase” button and … the transaction fails. Instead of a new subscriber, you now have one more abandoned cart on the books.

Every complication in your payment process costs you customers. It doesn’t even have to be as major as the scenario described above. A potential buyer may bounce after seeing you don’t accept PayPal or even after burning out on a checkout process that requires one too many clicks.

There’s an entire collection of ecommerce tools designed to address problems like these. Payments orchestration platforms (POPs) help you coordinate your payment service providers so you can offer a smooth and personalized checkout flow that closes the sale. These platforms have everything you need to optimize the payment process. The improvements you make will save your business money and boost your customers’ experience.

What Is Payments Orchestration?

Payments orchestration is the practice of integrating and coordinating various payment tools and services to improve the efficiency of the payment process. Orchestration is typically a backend function in a headless commerce architecture — either implemented via a POP or piecemeal, API-driven tools in a composable commerce setup.

However you approach the practice, your orchestration layer sits between your checkout and the various payment service providers you work with. It integrates with the tools you use to validate, route and settle payments, among other functions.

Integrations are key to the promise of payments orchestration. First, a POP with access to every potential payment service provider can choose the most cost-effective path for each transaction it processes. And second, with new functionalities just a plugin away, it’s easy to upgrade your payment process and offer your customers the options they want to see.

The Payments Orchestration Process

Payments orchestration begins as soon as your customer hits the “purchase” button. When they do so, the purchase and payment information is passed to your POP via an API. The POP stores the payment details on a secure server and tokenizes the card number — replacing sensitive customer information with a string of digits that links to that stored data. That token will be used to conduct the rest of the transaction in a secure manner.

If you’ve integrated pre-authorization tools like fraud filters or a BIN blocker, your POP will call on those functions next. Then, if the transaction passes those tests, the POP will pass it along to a payment gateway. Most transactions will be processed successfully. Those that aren’t will trigger any post-authorization integrations you’ve added to your POP.

After a purchase is completed, and whether it succeeds or fails, your POP saves the transaction data for you. Because your POP oversees every payment gateway and processor, it brings together all your sales numbers in one place.

Benefits of Payments Orchestration

Payments orchestration brings big benefits for businesses and buyers alike. It allows merchants an unprecedented level of control over their payment process — which means it’s easier to experiment with new payment offerings and add the features customers most want.

Improved Customer Experience

Customers are more likely to follow through witha purchase if they experience a smooth checkout flow. Because your POP sits on top of all your payment service providers, it allows you to offer a consistent checkout experience. That’s true even if your customers are making purchases from mobile phones or tablets, as an increasing number of ecommerce shoppers are.

POP integrations with payment gateways allow you to keep shoppers on your site for the whole payment process. Many POPs help you integrate iframes into your checkout flow so you can use hosted payment gateways (like PayPal) without redirecting customers to another site. Not only does this make the process faster, it also makes for a more cohesive journey.

Customers can also trust their payments are secure when made through a POP. Tokenization protects customer payment data against potential hacks. POPs also come with full PCI compliance and make it easy to implement up-to-date authentication measures.

By 2025, more than 10% of all retail orders will be placed on a mobile device. (Statista, 2023)

Higher Sales

Customers are demanding that ecommerce sites allow them to pay with their method of choice, and POPs allow merchants to rise to the moment. Once you set one up, it’s easy to integrate with multiple payment gateways. That means you can accept different credit card brands, online and mobile wallets and even offer buy now, pay later (BNPL) services.

You can also create a tailored payment process that supports various subscription models and billing periods — allowing consumers to choose the configuration that’s best for them. Because your POP coordinates everything, the checkout process will look identical whether a buyer is using PayPal or pulling out their Visa. This makes it easy for buyers to switch payment methods, which means fewer mid-checkout bounces due to friction.

The benefits don’t stop when checkout ends: POPs make it easy to automate payment retries with tools like Decline Manager or Smart Dunning. Both options help you convert failed transactions into successful ones, increasing your revenue and keeping subscribers around for longer.

Reduced Processing Costs

With the help of machine learning, POPs save merchants money by making sure each payment travels the most cost-effective path. Smart routing capabilities send each transaction to the gateway that will handle it for the lowest cost.

POPs with this feature analyze each payment on factors like location, currency and amount to determine where the fees will be lowest. This is especially valuable to sellers who handle cross-border payments and/or currency conversion, as these steps come with additional fees. POPs can’t get rid of these fees entirely, but they can help mitigate them by finding the best deal on each transaction you process.

Smart routing also looks for the route that’s most likely to result in a transaction being approved. Because you pay fees on transactions when they fail and have to pay again to retry them, a tool that increases the number of first-time approvals will reduce your costs.

Data-Driven Growth

Centralizing all your payments means it’s easy for you to see customer data, even when your buyers use different payment methods or come from different locales. With your POP, you can monitor key sales metrics and use that data to improve your payment process.

It’s easy to see overall purchase trends like payment volume, transaction amounts and processing times when your POP brings all the data into one place. You can also break out transactions by gateway or processor to look at success rates. This will help you find potential problem areas and see if new gateways are performing up to standard. Plus, you can track popular payment methods and customer location data to determine when it’s time to add more payment gateways or features to meet your buyers’ needs.

Access to More Markets

Give your business room to grow by taking advantage of a POP’s multiple payment gateway integrations. Growing ecommerce businesses sometimes struggle to accept a higher volume of transactions without clogging payment gateways. With a POP, you can quickly get started with new gateways, thereby increasing the number of transactions you can accept simultaneously.

Ecommerce companies that want to scale have to reach new customers, which often means expanding to different countries. POPs handle compliance and other complications that may arise from accepting cross-border payments and transacting with foreign banks. You’ll have access to payment gateways and processors that work with local currencies, so your customers don’t have to pay fees or switch to a less preferred payment method to buy from you.

Building Your Payments Orchestration Tech Stack

The POP your company uses will determine the quality of your (and your customers’) experience, but it’s not the only choice you have to make. Ultimately, your POP is part of a larger payment ecosystem. It should integrate with the payment gateways you already use and have add-ons like chargeback management and fraud protection. Plus, your POP needs to play nice with related functions like tax management and order fulfillment.

Most companies, therefore, do best with a headless POP or a collection of orchestration microservices because these tools allow for more flexibility and customization. When searching for the right tool, look for one with built-in security basics like PCI compliance and tokenization. You’ll also appreciate a POP that not only collects a lot of data but also offers analytics and reports that parse that data and surface trends for you.

You’ll likely want to add payment optimization services onto your base POP. A tool that can plug into services, including anti-fraud tools, Account Updater, BIN Blocker, smart routing, payment cascading and Smart Dunning, will be ready to grow with you. Even if you don’t need these add-ons now, look for a POP that makes them available to its users.

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Payments Orchestration Gives You Room To Grow

Customers aren’t the only users who deserve a seamless experience from your payment process — you do, too. Payments orchestration makes your life easier by streamlining your team’s workflow. A POP handles the complexities of payment processing and compliance. It standardizes communications between you and various payment gateways and vendors. And it hastens the process of adding new payment service providers to your tech stack.

Payments are central to ecommerce businesses, so it just makes sense to find a strong platform that will be central to your payment process. With all the tools merchants need to provide a fast, secure and personalized checkout flow, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Bring everything together with a POP that’s built for a seller like you. has all the payment orchestration and optimization tools subscription merchants need to thrive. Learn more about the benefits of our POP.