Is your store ready for the mobile shopper?

Fashion retailers are immersed in one of the most competitive markets out there. With constantly changing trends to keep up with, meeting customer demands has always been difficult to achieve.

Alongside this, retailers now have consumers’ tech-addiction to contend with. As new devices constantly hit the market, shoppers are being presented with alternative ways to browse and pay for goods – with fashion being the first stop it seems!

According to the latest research from the British Retail Consortium, UK consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to shop online, particularly when it comes to buying clothes. In fact, popularity is soaring, with smartphone searches rising by over 50% since last year.

While this may seem intimidating for bricks-and-mortar stores, there’s no reason why they can’t embrace mobile technology too. It’s very likely that most customers will be carrying a smartphone, so why not see the device as an untapped resource to help boost business?

Many retailers are already doing just that. UK shoe specialist Clarks has noticed the appeal of mobile to today’s shopper, and actually promotes the service to passers-by. Featuring stickers in their shop windows, Clarks urges shoppers to use their devices in-store to browse their entire product range online. This not only caters to consumers’ growing reliance on technology, it encourages them to complete their full journey in the store – even if their desired item might not be there at that time.

Some retailers are taking this one step further, creating mobile apps aimed to enhance the store experience. Ted Baker is a great example of this, finding a way to combine mobile and beacon technology to draw in more shoppers. The retailer’s Westfield White City store recently installed beacons in its mannequins, allowing them to send push notifications to customer smartphones about the displayed items. If the shopper has downloaded the Ted Baker app, they will be able to quickly purchase the clothing directly from the website.

However, before retailers consider launching an in-store mobile strategy, there are some factors to consider. For one, there’s no use advertising mobile services if their website is not mobile optimised. Surprisingly, Barclays recently revealed 70% of UK retailers have admitted they do not have a responsive website or an app in place – which can be very off-putting for a smartphone shopper.

Secondly, retailers must ensure they have a robust Wi-Fi network in place if they are offering mobile facilities in the store. A slow internet service will not only discourage customers from using it in the first place, but will likely open doors to complaints too.

Mobile offers a very lucrative opportunity to build stronger relationships that drive revenue in the store. However, retailers need to get the basics right to create a solid foundation on which to build impressive customer experiences.

3 sectors that can’t survive without contactless

Contactless has become the unstoppable force of the payments industry. From a relatively niche transaction method less than two years ago, its popularity has soared among consumers, with contactless spending increasing by 330% during 2014.

Although this change in consumer behaviour impacts businesses across the board, there are certain industries where contactless payments are proving critical to success. Here, we outline the opportunities in three of those sectors – and why it’s paramount that companies in these areas embrace the latest payments technology.

  1. Retail

It’s official: contactless is the new cash – it’s even driving down ATM traffic. ‘Touch and go’ style card transactions are the fastest growing payment method. According to recent Halifax statistics, contactless now accounts for £15 of every £100 spent, and have contributed to a 16.6% fall in cash withdrawals.

What does this mean for retailers? Put simply, today’s shoppers want to use their card for both low and high value purchases. With companies including Boots, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and WH Smith already proactively using contactless payments services, the technology is quickly moving from a differentiator to a necessity.

The need to offer contactless payments will increase over the next few months as well; from January 2016 all new POS terminals that accept MasterCard will be required to have contactless capabilities.

  1. Travel

Of all the sectors, travel has been most progressive in its use of contactless payments. Almost half of contactless payments take place within the M25, predominantly due to its adoption across the London transport network.

Since switching from Oyster to contactless, Transport for London has reached more than one million taps a day, becoming the fastest growing contactless merchant in Europe.

With one of the country’s largest transport networks leading the way, it is only a matter of time before customers demand to use contactless payments whenever they commute. This will, however, enable travel companies to address challenges such as passengers attempting to board with pre-pay cards that are out of credit.

  1. Hospitality

An important change takes place this September, which will catapult contactless to the front of the hospitality agenda: the maximum transaction value will increase to £30.

While contactless is already being used by some pubs and cafes to cover low value orders, raising the limit on payment levels will place new vendors – such as restaurants – in the ‘sweet spot’ for tap to pay technology.

Contactless will also become a crucial queue buster during busy periods. McDonalds and Starbucks are among those already using payment solutions to improve customer convenience, and even those outside the traditional hospitality environment, like market stalls and mobile food vans, will need contactless card payments to keep up with consumer demands.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our surprising stats about contactless payments for more insights.

Business travellers are getting younger – and demanding more from their hotel experience

When it comes to work travel in 2015, the image of an older man in a suit, placing his briefcase on the counter as he holds out his paper details at the check-in desk couldn’t be further from the truth.

The growth of virtual offices and cloud-based systems has liberated the UK’s workforce from their desks and created a new generation of travelling professionals.

Millennials (those aged 18-34) are now twice as likely to travel for business purposes than those aged over 35 years, according to new research by The Service Apartments Company, which in turn is changing perceptions of hotel standards.

51% of younger business travellers want high-speed WiFi during their stay – with 6 in 10 valuing it higher than good quality food.

Millennials are also more likely to embrace cutting-edge developments, with 46% excited about bring your own device (BYOD) concepts. Some hospitality vendors are already experimenting with such technologies; Starwood Hotels and Resorts in the USA, for instance, allows visitors to bypass check-in and access their room via a smartphone virtual key.

However, examples like Starwood are few and far between, as many hotels are not adapting to new behaviour patterns at the pace of customers demand.

The rise in younger professionals using hospitality services has raised the bar on technology-led experiences. Business Class WiFi should now be offered to visitors as standard in hotels, in all locations.

On the contrary, there is still great variation in the service today’s hotel visitors receive. Patchy internet signal is still a major frustration among Millennials, caused by vendors’ networks not being optimised to provide coverage across the venue. In addition, some hotels struggle to cope with the increasing number of devices connecting to public networks, leading to slow loading times irritating patrons.

Until hotels create a reliable and secure wireless network, it will be impossible for management to contemplate the implementation of next generation BYOD facilities such as mobile check-in. Wowing visitors with bells and whistles is all well and good, but without the right network support backing them up, these systems could easily fall down.

The key for hospitality companies is to get the basics right, give visitors the connectivity they crave, before experimenting with further services. A strong wireless network foundation is essential for customer experience innovation.