How digital technology can transform the payment experience for SMEs and their customers
Increasing numbers of UK consumers value the experience they have in-store as much as the product they end up buying. A big part of this comes down to payments, with many shoppers today preferring quicker and easier ways to pay than cash.
Small business owners should be primed to take advantage of the changing payment trends where possible. Digital disruption is reshaping the UK retail sector, and has the potential to transform your business too.
Modern Consumers are increasingly drawn to experience-led purchases. This is especially true when we look at younger shoppers’ spending, many of whom regard travel as a priority purchase. As a result, spending growth in sectors linked to experience purchases, like travel (7.3%) and leisure (6.2%) has grown more strongly than traditional sectors like retail (3.9%) over recent years.
This has in turn driven retailers to find innovative new digital ways to connect with their consumers. A huge range of exciting new start-ups are offering everything from digital foot traffic measurement, to holographic advertising, and even 3D body scanning for perfect-fit clothes. How consumers pay is an important part of the in-store experience, so the trend has been to offer greater choice in transaction methods, with an emphasis on speed, security and mobility. By improving the experience, it is hoped, more consumers will return, and spend more each time.
Card acceptance is a key ingredient in the drive towards improving the payment experience. This is helping to create a change in payment trends. Cards overtook cash as the most popular payment method in the UK at the end of 2017, according to UK Finance: consumers made 13.2 billion debit card payments – and the gap is set to widen over the coming years.
In 2018, Worldpay recorded another tipping point, when contactless overtook chip and PIN for the first time in stores. At the same time, we recorded a 114% increase in payments via mobile wallet systems such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay.
Good for them, good for you
The perception amongst many small business owners is that their business is too small to accept card payments and that they are expensive to support. In fact, digital payments can offer a range of benefits including:
- Faster at the till, meaning fewer queues and possible drop-outs
- More secure, because you reduce the opportunity for staff theft and robbery
- Good for cash flow: the money is often transferred more quickly than you might deposit cash at the bank
- Good for you, as you can use the time otherwise spent handling cash on growing the business
- Simplifies accounting to save you more time
- Shows you care about creating positive customer experiences
- New insight into customers from tools like “My Business Dashboard”, which help analyse payment data
Digital payments are also essential to create the new engaging experiences consumers are demanding. Apple popularised the use of mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) systems in its stores, for example, and these tools have become an increasingly common site on the high street. They offer the ability for shop staff armed with tablets to assist consumers with finding stock, looking at items and even paying, via linked card machines. The last point is important, because shoppers are increasingly demanding faster payments. In fact, the majority (63%) claim that doing away with check-outs altogether would make their store visit more engaging.
If more of your customers want to pay by card or even their mobile phones, it makes business sense to allow them to do so. According to RFi Group research, 22% of UK consumers have not been able to pay in store by their preferred method. Of these, 15% decided to take their purchase elsewhere.
Getting set for success
So how can you get started? The first step should be to contact your payments service provider. Look for card terminals that support all major credit and debit cards including contactless, as well as mobile payments. You may be surprised at the sheer range of reasonably priced options available to you.
Think about how you’re going to use the device. The Worldpay Reader, for example, links to a smartphone or tablet so you can take payments wherever the customer is: on your premises or out and about. This empowers store staff to engage with customers on a more personal one-to-one basis, as well as cutting queuing and payment times.
Some providers will also offer packages including online tools you can use to analyse sales, enabling you to get closer to your customers.
That’s the beauty of digital payments. When the data is all there in front of you, it’s not only easier to speed through time-consuming jobs like bookkeeping and reconciliation, you can also start to find new ways to grow the business and improve the customer experience.
Find out more
Visit www.fsbcardprocessing.co.uk for more information about the services we offer to FSB members and www.fsb.org.uk/benefits for a full list of FSB membership benefits and services. We’ll also be at stand F10 at this year’s Festival, so come and say hello to us to see what FSB membership can do for your small business.| Wednesday 09 October, 2019