What’s in store for stores in 2015? 3 retail game changers

Retail never stays still – if anything, it’s moving faster than ever. This year alone, we’ve seen growing adoption of click and collect and contactless payments, to name two examples. But what will be the major influences changing retailer/consumer relationships in 2015?

In our final blog of 2014, we’re looking towards the year ahead – and predicting what’s in store for retail stores next year. Here are our top 3 most influential trends:

  1. There will be more devices in the store

From mPOS tablets being operated by sales associates, to mobiles being utilised by consumers to showroom, digital touch points will become an even greater part of the store experience. This will place additional strain on retailers’ data networks.

Those who triumph will offer reliable connections for staff and robust complimentary WiFi connections for the customer.

  1. Technology will personalise store shopping

We touched on the store becoming a theatre of dreams in a blog post earlier this year, and this trend will most certainly continue into 2015.

Technology such as near field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth beacons, are already being piloted by major retailers like John Lewis and House of Fraser; this points towards in-store interactivity dominating next year’s marketing and customer service agenda.

  1. Reputations will thrive or dive on payment security

With more consumers than ever using credit and debit cards to pay for goods, data breaches could prove devastating to retailers’ reputations. From June 30th 2015, businesses accepting card payments will need to meet PCI DSS v3 standards.

As a result, the race will be on to upgrade current payment solutions and reduce scope for PCI compliance before legislation comes into force.

For further information about payments security in 2015, visit the Payments Network, our online community for retailers and hospitality vendors.

How long will it be before cash becomes obsolete?

It seems wild to imagine a world without cash – up there with teleporting to work or going for a week’s trip to the moon. But paying for goods with coins and notes could soon become a thing of the past, if consumers’ appetite for card transactions continues to progress at its current rate.

According to the latest World Payments Report from Capgemini and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), card payments are expected to rise by another 10% this year, reaching 366 billion transactions worldwide. This won’t surprise the developed world, but much of the gains being made currently are in underdeveloped non-cash markets such as China.

The convergence of technology is also supporting plastic’s progress; Capgemini predicts mobile payments will grow by 60.8% in 2015, taking over online transactions as the most popular transaction format. New entries into the m-payment market such as Apple Pay and the enhancement of more established services such as Google Wallet will only accelerate this change, provided they offer a secure, user-friendly experience.

And herein lies the crux of this payment shift: as customers move from cash to card, the responsibility for safeguarding their details moves to the retailer. If shoppers are pickpocketed, they only have the perpetrator to blame; if their card details are breached, the retailer’s payments processing software comes under fire.

Naturally, industry bodies such as the PCI Security Standards Council are introducing new security standards to protect consumer data – just look at Target and Home Depot in the US to see the potential scale of payment information breaches – but in many cases, this has led to payments providers developing convoluted solutions that are beyond the comprehension of many businesses.

What retailers need right now is to find the most robust and straightforward way to encrypt and protect customer information. Whilst meeting the highest security standards before they are mandated might not be top on the list of priorities, card payments are an unstoppable force – and could quickly stop working in retailers’ favour should their systems be hacked.

As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Big data in retail: The power of customer transaction data

Fact: Accessing customer data in a format that allows retailers to identify trends on when, where and how individual customers like to shop and the type of products they prefer to purchase is invaluable in helping retailers to put relevant offers in front of customers using targeted marketing.  But the challenge remains – how can retailers go about collecting and making sense of this data for a clear picture of customer shopping habits?

Banks and payments processors are miles ahead of the retail industry in documenting customers purchase history, with it being a fundamental part of their day-to-day business processes. NatWest has taken this a step further by offering customers a comprehensive annual breakdown on total expenditure by retail outlet, restaurant, hotel, attraction visited etc. So as a customer, you would know how many times you visited a particular restaurant that year and the total amount spent.

The financial sector spends much more than retailers on the technology that enables this level of granular detail, which explains how they are more advanced. However, they have an advantage on retailers, in that most of their customers only purchase a handful of products, where retailers are dealing with much larger product and range volumes. The issue for most retailers is amassing and analysing data, which is not a core retail competency, and without the technology in place to enable this, it’s near on impossible to make sense of it all.

Standards such as PCI: DSS have also made it more of a challenge for retailers to monitor customer transactions, with stringent and expensive guidelines to abide by if they are to hold and securely process customer card details.

Taking all of this into consideration, it makes sense for retailers to partner with a payments provider that has the capability to manage payments across the retail estate and multiple channels, with a central hub for all of this data to be stored for visibility of transactions across the business – ultimately to deliver a single view of the customer – then report in a way that can be exploited through marketing.

With the growing importance of big data, it will become common practice for retailers to work in a much more integrated way with payments processors and banks, to access critical customer data. As they say, knowledge is power!


Hotels should capitalise on broadband services

The hotel industry could learn a thing or two from the retail industry, for which broadband technology is now a well-established fixture. The hotel industry is all about customer service and given that customer expectations are greater than ever, broadband services are critical to delivering complementary services and driving sales.

Primarily used to cut the cost of telephone calls, broadband networks in retail are now seen as the backbone for managing the store environment in a more dynamic way. Not only better connecting the retail estate, but delivering value added services.

On the private network, staff across the retail estate are connected in real-time, payments are highly secure and PCI compliant and the management of sales and merchandising data from the stores is used to analyse performance – with multiple stores and head office all connected via the network.

Operationally, broadband can also be used for e-learning, IP video and loyalty schemes.

On the public side, the network can support a host of engaging services, such as, media displays, MPoS, connection to online via a tablet and free WiFi services.

Free WiFi is now also expected in hotels and most importantly customers want good connection when using their laptops or tablets devices – especially when it’s for work purposes. The overall network service needs to be seamless and stress free so customers aren’t left waiting around to make a transaction because of bad connection.

Public networks can be used to deliver promotional content on media screens, better promoting hotel services such as Spa treatments and additional sporting activities.

It’s a win, win situation for both parties, with customers getting the most out of their experience and hotels capitalising on their facilities while delivering a more seamless service.