Today, Wednesday June 29, marks the golden anniversary of the first credit card in Britain. In 1966, when the first credit card was introduced by Barclays Bank, a standard in-store experience involved a customer going into a store and perhaps paying with cash or in a very small amount of instances, their charge card.
It’s much bigger than just a 'cashless society'. It’s a cashless society that builds in a personalised finance experience for everyone as standard. The emergence of card in the 1960s was driven by advancements in technology and a need to improve the consumer payment experience. Today, 50 years on from the last payment revolution, we see talk of another, with the emergence of the cashless society.
Yet the conversation around the form this cashless society takes is yet to take hold. The superficial shift away from physical money is masking a lack of underlying innovation.'
In March 2016, there was £1,508.4m spent in the UK using contactless cards - an increase of 14.4% on the previous month and an increase of 249.9% over the year. In the same month, contactless transactions also grew by 184.0% throughout the year.
Instead of mirroring the traditional payment experience through a new medium, cashless payment, including mobile, needs to offer real value for customers and retailers by going beyond just payment.
In all aspects of online life, consumers have become accustomed to exchanging their data for high-quality, hyper-relevant interactions. It is time payment, a process which straddles online and offline worlds, embraces personalisation too. Payment is no longer a mandatory but limited part of the retail process, it now holds the keys to the entire customer experience through the capture of basket data revealing customer behaviours and preferences.
Retail loyalty offerings today, often at the heart of retailer customer experience plans, are often impersonal and increasingly intangible - two million gold stars don’t mean much if they don’t translate into anything of worth. Consumer value is being forgotten as companies become increasingly obsessed with data. The retail winners of the future will be those that put the consumer and their experience first.
5 Tips for becoming a future-proof retailer
Provide a product or experience that’s worth going in-store for
What can you offer in store that customers can’t experience online? Maybe that seems fairly obvious if you’re a cafe or coffee store - we unfortunately can’t yet get a flat white delivered through our screens! Regardless, the same principle applies. We all know the shops who offer covetable in-store shopping experiences. Visiting Liberty in London is like visiting an art gallery, for example. Cult-beauty chain Aesop works hard to appear like they haven’t had to work for it at all. Their stores all tell a story of design and architecture that reflects the location of the store. No two stores are the same in design but the range of products are reliably uniform in brand and quality and the staff are hired partly based on their love for the products.
But ideally, create an omni-channel retail experience
The in-store experience isn’t dead or even dying, but it is evolving. Consumers tend to research where the best deals are, or who offers what prior to committing to purchases big and small. I.e. where can I get the best quality vacuum cleaner at the best price or who in the area I’m visiting has the best coffee? Whilst other department stores remain profitable by focusing on their omni-channel experience and unique offering, BHS is an example of a company that failed to fully address this until it was too late.
When you browse and add items to your online shopping basket many sites will often recommend other products of interest. By offering your customers the ability to browse, shop and pay via mobile you can also learn about their preferences and behaviour at the same time. This in turn will lead to valuable insights to create a uniquely personal customer experience - by providing targeted reward offers for instance - increasing overall customer loyalty to your store and brand.
Make payment easy and rewarding
This is simple. There is no reason in 2016 to create unnecessary barriers to sale completion or to limit payment methods to those common 50 years ago. Let your customer pay how they want but make it easiest for them to pay in a way which in the long term benefits both you and them. The simplest way to achieve this is by providing a hassle-free mobile payment experience where they benefit (with tailored discounts, for example) and you learn more in order to generate repeat custom.
Predict the future - and get there first
There are so many new and cool ways to engage your customers. Bluetooth beacons, for instance, alert retailers to a particular customer entering their store and that customer will then receive a personalised offer sent directly to their smartphone. Don’t let the abundance of new retail tech scare you. Your customers are often just as confused! It’s about identifying the trend that’s here to stay - mobile payment - and then implementing it in an easy and consumer friendly way. Your goal should always be: how does this make my customer’s life easier? A recent Forrester report found that customers are increasingly unlikely to download new apps, but that doesn’t mean retailers should ignore mobile, rather they should find ways to use it to engage with their customers, utilising existing, beneficial mobile ecosystems.
By Alain Falys, Founder, Yoyo Wallet a mobile-first payment, loyalty and personalised marketing platform for retailers, brands, and the consumers they want to serve. It was founded on the principle that there is no payment problem in retail, however mobile offers retailers the opportunity to create a truly personal buying experience for the consumers.