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Expert opinion

Omnichannel commerce and big data

Thursday 15 June 2017 | 09:12 AM CET

Jörn Leogrande, Wirecard: The use of technology strengthens customer relationships, while making the day-to-day operations easier for merchants

The future of retail is based on the seamless connected consumer with a focus on their needs

The retail sector has grown strongly in recent years. Small shops have become large stores and huge shopping malls have appeared. But, at the same time, a conflict has arisen: the more companies grow, the more they lose the closeness with their customers. While, in former times, retailers in corner stores have spoken personally about the preferred products of the customers, nowadays many of the retailers do not know anything about the people buying their products.

Especially for consumers, that is a pity because most of them would prefer individual shopping experiences rather than impersonal buying. So, what does the future hold and how can retailers learn from their mistakes? Well, customers and retailers can learn a lot from the idea of the seamless connected consumer and this idea will be a real game changer for the retail industry.

The retail sector is in the middle of a revolution: on one side, there are huge ecommerce retailers who are taking business from offline stores because they personalise their offers and guarantee short delivery times. But, on the other side, there is a big variety of technology available from which these offline stores can benefit to reinvent their businesses. Unfortunately, many retailers are not familiar with this technology yet.

Latest research shows that customers do not differentiate their shopping experience by channel and, if retailers want to thrive in the digital age, they have to align to the customer expectations – not the other way round.

So, how can retailers overcome this problem? It is important that managers understand the different types of customer needs as well as being experts in individual customer targeting. Another solution would be to offer their products online, offline and mobile. Finally, they should take advantage of the new seamless connected consumer technology to guide customers to their favourite products. Retailers can provide an outstanding customer experience by just linking online and offline services through big data solutions that can easily be installed.

The shopping experience has to be individual

The seamless connected consumer immediately gets a coupon on their smartphone when entering a shop for products of interest. As a result, they feel recognised and understood. To summarise, this revolutionary development: the shopping experience has to be individual and the payment process must be very quick and easy.

Today, there is a lot of technology which can help optimise the payment process as well as the shopping experience. For example, NFC, QR-Codes and Bluetooth connect the merchant with the customer. And there is an easy way to combine the existing cash register with these kinds of technology that enable the use of target-aimed value added services. It is called Connected POS and, with simple installations, it can use the data that comes from the cash register to create personalised special offers for customers.

For example, with omnichannel solutions like connected POS, retailers already know the answer to questions like: Which products sell well together? Which merchant is present in my store? What kind of loyalty programme is he or she likely to use? Did they redeem a cashback or coupon last time they shopped in my store?

By using this data, dynamic advertising can result: if a merchant buys for example balsamic vinegar, why not offer him a coupon for a special bruschetta? This means that, no matter how they interact with the business, whether by mobile phone, face-to-face or via your website, every experience must be seamless and consistent so people do not have to repeat themselves endlessly or end up being passed from pillar to post.

Digital shopping lists could navigate through the store

After a consumer puts a shopping list together on their mobile phone and enters a supermarket, they could receive help to navigate through the store to find their purchases quicker, while also having various tailored special offers sent to them. These offers would be based on their usual shopping habits and previous interactions with the store.

There can be alternatives to the smartphone because these kinds of loyalty programmes are not tied to a special device. Also, possible for the future are wearables like watches, rings or glasses to guide you through the shopping process and allow people to pay with just a tap. This topic of the seamless connected consumer is more about learning how to understand the consumer because the technology already exists. The future of retail is all about using this technology to strengthen customer relationships and improve the customer experience, while making the day-to-day operations easier for merchants.

For similar stories, please check out our Online Payments and Ecommerce Market Guide 2016 to learn more about the latest trends in ecommerce and e-payment methods developments.

About Jörn Leogrande

Jörn is Executive Vice President of Mobile Services at Wirecard. This unit is developing payment apps, mobile wallets and value added services for leading European mobile operators, financial institutions and merchants. As an expert, Jörn is furthermore responsible for the wearable payment product line of Wirecard.

About Wirecard AG

Wirecard AG is a global technology group that supports companies in accepting electronic payments from all sales channels and countries. As a leading independent supplier, the Wirecard Group offers outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payments. Wirecard AG is listed on the Frankfurt Securities Exchange.

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