The Battle for Hyperspeed Commerce in the Internet Age

Henry Helgeson

May 15, 2014

The Internet has facilitated new ways to connect consumers with products that were previously unimagined. There’s basically nothing you can’t buy online today, from a penny to a yacht. But the real challenge isn’t rooted in finding something online anymore; it’s in getting products to people faster. The other big problem we’re grappling with is how to seamlessly connect consumers with SMBs both online and in the real world. After all, consumers don’t really care where they buy things; they care about getting what they want when they want it (and for the best price.) Two e-commerce giants are duking it out over these very challenges, with two very different approaches. On top of that, a few startups have emerged with a unique take on how to connect consumers with the things they want and...

You’re going to lose: Five Reasons Showrooming Will Always Win

Henry Helgeson

August 28, 2013

Prepared in concert with RetailPro International.You ignore it and, therefore, do nothing. You may not realize it, but showrooming already has a direct impact on your bottom line today. According to L2, 58% of smartphone owners regularly go to a store with the sole intention of trying on or testing products before buying them online. This also means you can’t ignore e-commerce, either. People want to be able to buy from any channel, and they want a quality customer experience wherever and whenever they choose to stop. Did we mention they’re always keeping an eye out for that best deal, too? Skip the training. Sales staff will be gone in a week anyway. Yikes, big mistake. The reality is this won’t save you any time or resources; knowledgeable associates are what keep your real estate...

Loyalty Programs: Moving Far Beyond Punch Cards and Key Fobs

Henry Helgeson

July 25, 2013

The idea of rewarding loyal customers is nothing new. It’s widely reported that it’s six to seven times as costly to retain an existing customer versus acquire a new one – making a great case for the effectiveness of loyalty programs. In the U.S. retail marketing programs featuring loyalty incentives date back to the late 1700s. Throughout the 1800s leading consumer brands begin using loyalty incentives to reward repeat customers by providing certificates that could be exchanged for promotional goods or other items.  Over time, loyalty programs have expanded from local business owners to ‘big box’ retailers and grocery chains, airlines, and even credit card companies. In fact, leading analyst firm Aite Group estimates that approximately 900 million transactions will be conducted...

National Retail Federation’s Retail Big Show

Henry Helgeson

January 24, 2013

It’s the retail industry’s biggest show and it did not disappoint this year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) held it’s 102nd Retail BIG Show January 13th through the 16th in New York City, attended by more than 28,000 of retails top brass from around the globe. For Merchant Warehouse, it was our first time exhibiting at the event and we had an incredible debut. Conference sessions featured leaders from well-known brands including Kraft, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, Brook Brothers, and Coca-Cola, to name just a few, with conversation topics ranging from global expansion to addressing showrooming to socialnomics. In addition to the vast array of educational sessions, the show also featured hundreds of exhibitors’ demonstrating a myriad of retail solutions. To my amazement, I saw everything...

Mobile Payments Security

Henry Helgeson

November 27, 2012

As the mobile payments’ media spotlight shines on who will ‘win’ the digital wallet race or when near-field communication (NFC) will evolve to a mainstream technology, another critical topic is security and how digital wallets work to protect consumer data. Interestingly enough, there are various form factors of digital or mobile wallets and each operates differently, so it’s critical that we begin with a look at each type of digital wallet and how it operates.  Cloud based wallets, such as those offered by Starbucks, LevelUp, and Pay with Square, store sensitive data in the cloud with nothing being stored on the smartphone or tablet itself. Most cloud based wallet providers vault the card data in a centralized, PCI compliant hosting environment with none of the card data ever...

Money2020 In Review

Henry Helgeson

October 30, 2012

In its inaugural year, Money2020, a conference focused on how niche innovations are collectively shaping the new reality of money, did not disappoint. The conference, held last week in Las Vegas, featured over 75 educational sessions, dozens of exhibitors and 2,000 industry professionals. The conference opened with a series of deep dive educational breakouts ranging from Investment Capital for Money2020 Innovations to EMV and then officially launched with a motivating keynote from Suze Orman. Keynotes and educational tracks included a wide range of topics including banking 2.0, personal financial management, digital wallets, virtual currencies, online-to-offline commerce, electronic receipts, merchant solutions, alternative credit and more. Relevant to the payments ecosystem, Karen...

Credit Card Surcharging: It’s Bad for Business

Henry Helgeson

September 25, 2012

In July, card issuers and banks reached a 7.25 billon dollar settlement with merchants. As a result of the settlement, nearly seven million merchants will receive paid damages and lower processing interchange fees for a period of eight months. The settlement, which is viewed as a major ‘win’ for merchants, also allows merchants to charge a capped fee to the customer when they choose to pay with credit and not cash or check. We could see merchants exercising their right to surcharge or credit purchases as soon as January 2013, but is it a good business decision? Customers using credit cards will likely view any surcharge as simply a higher price and not a convenience expense for using plastic over cash, leading them to a competitive business or an online retailer for a ‘better deal’. In...

The Future of Payments

Henry Helgeson

June 28, 2012

Hundreds of new payment types and customer programs have entered the marketplace over the past year, and the end is nowhere in sight. These converging payment types and customer programs are creating disruption for POS developers, agents and merchants. This whitepaper provides an overview on the key new players driving change in mobile payments, predictions on the future size of mobile payments, frustrations and challenges each market segment is facing and solving for the future.  Download the Merchant Warehouse Whitepaper today

The Future is Customer Engagement

Henry Helgeson

June 12, 2012

This is a very exciting time in the industry. There is an onslaught of new entries to the marketplace and, while emerging payment types including mobile wallets, NFC, EMV, and QR codes have not reached mass adoption, there is a major paradigm shift on the horizon. In fact, Gartner predicts that, “Worldwide mobile payment is expected to have 448 million users and $617 billion in transaction value by 2016.” In North America alone, Gartner is predicting mobile payment user growth of 177 percent from 32.7 million users in 2012 to over 90 million in 2016. *   We are also witnessing a sea of change in customer expectations in terms of value, mobility, choice and personalized offers. Customers today are seeking out merchants who offer including loyalty rewards, personalized discounts and other...

Keeping Ahead of the Thief: PCI Compliance for the Small Business

Henry Helgeson

September 30, 2008

TJX, Hannaford, Okemo Mountain and others have drawn massive attention as large merchants who have been breached and had millions of consumers' data compromised. While breaches at these large corporations certainly represent more data than that of most of the 6 million small merchants nationwide, small businesses are not exempt from having consumer credit card information stolen, or from meeting the same requirements for protection of sensitive consumer data. In reality, it is imperative that these businesses begin to see themselves as targets and put steps in place to combat data theft. However, there is a lack of education for small merchants about data security and compliance issues.  According to Visa and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 57 percent of small...