Nov. 28, 2017 | by Judy Mottl
Editor’s note: This Q&A originally appeared in Mobile Payments Today sister publication, Retail Customer Experience.
Brick-and-mortar and traditional retailers are striving to create and build bold experiences given increasing competition from the e-commerce environment. One such effort is a new experiential experience from Nordstrom, called Nordstrom Local. The quest was to provide customers a more intimate and curated shopping location. But Nordstrom is just one of many top brands and leading retailers embracing innovative technologies, including inventive payment systems, to improve the customer experience.
Retail Customer Experience reached out to Joe Mach, North America president at Verifone, to get deeper insight on what retailers are doing, why they’re embarking on such unique strategies and how evolving payment systems are playing a critical role in the success of customer experience endeavors.
Mach is a 25-year veteran of the retail and technology industries and joined Verifone in 2000. He is responsible for overseeing operations for the North America region, including financial, mobility, retail, transit, retail banking, hospitality, security, health care and government business units. He previously served as SVP of Verifone’s North America Vertical Solutions for over six years, with responsibility for driving growth within key market segments, including many large and mid-tier retail verticals.
Retail Customer Experience: How do you define a successful customer experience in retail today?
Mach:The 21 st century retail environment is a jungle, and just when merchants think they’ve hacked their way through it, it gets more complicated. With regulatory advancements, technological growth, and generational forces constantly changing the landscape, it is important for merchants to turn these challenges into opportunities and cater to the evolving needs of the connected consumer.
A successful customer experience is secure, personalized and engaging. Essentially, merchants need to understand that: More and more millennials are entering the workforce every year, and by 2020, they’ll represent more than 40 percent of consumers in the U.S. Their buying power is increasing. For younger generations, the purchasing experience tends to supersede the purchase itself- rather than trips to just make purchases, shoppers are drawn to in-store experiences that are digitally-connected and personal. Merchants are seeing success by making the in-store experience worthy to write home about (or post on social media, rather) redefining defining the in-store experience by blending online with in-store.
A mobile strategy will be key to success. Utilizing technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy, 3G/4G and Wi-Fi connectivity in combination their existing POS is about more than just going beyond the counter. Retailers are seeing success by implementing an endless-aisle sales strategy, line-busting during peak hours, saving the sale for frustrated consumers who can’t find an in-stock item, and even up-selling in a personalized environment. The customer experience is personalized and unique. Merchants are seeing success by creating an actual shopping experience which in turn, drives better engagement with customers and creates loyalty. For example, by bringing down the silos between their online and physical storefronts, merchants are able to utilize the advanced consumer data and analytics needed for better targeting, consumer insights and personalization across all customer touchpoints.
RCE: What are the one or two top challenges Verifone is seeing among retailers when it comes to advancing customer experience
Mach: Consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience and simplicity of the online experience – they want the same features in-store. However, while change is stimulating for retail, we cannot deny that integrating online and physical storefronts in a way that is consistent and seamless from the consumer’s point-of-view, present some unique challenges with the constant change expected in technology and regulation – not to mention the limited bandwidth of IT resources.
Add payment complexity, EMV certifications and PCI compliance mandates on top of that and merchants can lose sight of what’s most important to them which is to grow their business. Fortunately, there are many payment technology solutions available for merchants that allow them to be nimble and creative. Payment solutions help simplify payments, speed payment innovation, improve payment security and easily meet future payment requirements while reducing PCI compliance burdens. The introduction of new consumer-facing technology is constant, and as new apps and digital payment methods are introduced, consumers will expect to use them in the physical store. Payment device cloud connectivity can expedite the merchant’s ability to access popular business and consumer apps at the POS. Proprietary and third-party apps can be developed, tested and supported on today’s next generation devices. Benefits range from improved customer loyalty via points programs or geo-targeted offers inside the store, to tailored incentives based on online purchases at the POS and improved inventory management via ecommerce and legacy system integration. Merchants have to be empowered to try out new technologies as they emerge so they can securely experiment to find new value and revenue opportunities.
RCE: Despite all the doomsday declarations brick and mortar remains a vibrant aspect to the retail segment but the key is to keep innovating. What are you seeing happening out there?
Mach: Consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience and simplicity of the online experience – they want the same features in-store which is where nearly 90 percent of retail sales are generated. So it’s clear that the reign of the physical retail environment is far from over – it’s just a matter of making the experience in-store similar to the one online.
Some great examples of effort we see among our clients include: The Keg Steakhouse + Bar is an example of a full-service restaurant chain offering pay-at-the-table service to enhance their guests’ experience and increase table-turns. Servers are able to close the bill transaction right at the table so guests experience secure, efficient payment and convenient service. One high-end specialty beauty retailer is thriving and redefining the future of retail. Their business has grown 6 percent in the last 12 months with no slowing in sight. They are at the forefront of innovation by rolling out numerous concept stores, driving in-store traffic via social and really embracing technology. They have done an incredible job creating a unique and personalized experience for the consumer once on-site which in turn builds brand loyalty (and it’s really paying off).
One of the country’s top 10 quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, wanted to further expedite the ordering process for customers. They have successfully implemented a system that integrates online and instore experiences by implementing an easy and convenient way for their customers to order online and pick up at the store. With the capability to engage with consumers through kiosks, mobile, and web, they are on track to surpass 1 billion transactions by the end of 2017. Leading national grocery and pharmacy chains have begun to offer click-and-collect to their customers. Shoppers order online and have it filled by store associates in pickup locations. When shoppers arrive at their designated times, the store staff collects payment (along with their loyalty card) using a mobile pay device (that’s integrated with the instore point-of-sale), and delivers the order.
RCE: Seamless payment interaction is gaining greater attention. What do you expect to see down the pike or five to 10 years in the future?
Mach: Some key trends we think will gain popularity in the coming months are:
- Security: Breaches and hacks are becoming more and more prevalent. To answer this growing threat and to ease concerns, security options are evolving. We have seen multi-step processes combining the holistic knowledge of a person’s preferences and possessions. To enable this, authentication will move away from simple PIN numbers and codes to individualized biometric information such as fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scans. At Verifone, we have been working hard to enable the market to create that omnichannel experience that customers demand while protecting sensitive customer data, improve data security, and reduce PCI audit scope and cost. Additional layers of security such as tokenization enables merchants to provide a secure way for consumers to buy anywhere and return anywhere without having to present their card again, creating a seamless and secure payment experience, regardless of where they made their purchase — online, in the store downtown, or in the store out of town.
- Frictionless experiences: Creating that seamless and frictionless experience for the consumer is going to be key to the future of retail. This means accepting any kind of payment, anywhere, anytime (whether online or in-store). I think this will evolve from what we know as traditional retail today and expect to see more retailers try different kinds of concepts stores to drive online to in-store traffic and vice-versa. This will vary drastically for each merchant depending on who their target demographics are, but a lot of our customers are starting to find the right formula and implement it.
- Alternative payment methods: The introduction of new payment methods is constant. It’s important to stay nimble to accommodate new technologies as they emerge. Mobile payment applications are growing exponentially. Apple Pay is reporting over one million new users each week while lifestyle apps like Alipay is gaining acceptance in Europe and the U.S. As the tech and security behind mobile payment apps increases, user adoption will grow with it pushing payment providers and businesses to evolve with the trend.
- Ordering at the kiosk:Dependable, fast and secure kiosk ordering is proving invaluable in many QSR and retail chains. This solution is designed to decrease long-lines by offering self-service to expedite orders while lowering overhead. We expect to see more and more kiosk options in the coming years.
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