Two growing trends are set to make the traditional approach to completing a transaction at a retailer’s point-of-sale (POS) device a thing of the past. The widespread availability of new payment technologies makes it easier and faster for customers to complete transactions. This, combined with the benefits for merchants to leverage these technologies to better understand their customers, brings us into a brave new world. But with a myriad of options and opportunities comes confusion around the payment technologies that are available. Which one do I implement? Does it make sense to invest in multiple options? What if the option I pick doesn’t work out? Does this type of investment even make sense right now? Will my customers use mobile payment capabilities?
To help alleviate some of these concerns, Merchant Warehouse sponsored an exclusive paper by Mercator Advisory Group, which provides a thorough analysis of the payments technology options available today. Based on these findings, Merchant Warehouse has also created a list of recommendations to help merchants determine which payment technologies to offer their customers.
1. Define a strategy for acceptance. The first step for merchants is to define what they want the customer experience to be. Does the merchant want the traditional consumer engagement at a checkout counter? Or does the merchant want to use mPOS devices, such as tablets, to conduct in-aisle transactions? Other options, like mobile commerce, or incorporating omni-channel capabilities to bring more than one of these alternatives together, can create an interactive customer experience that enables a real dialogue between merchants and consumers. This dialogue lets merchants gain insight into customer shopping preferences, which can introduce a deeper level of engagement with customers.
2. Align investment with customers’ interests. Pushing technology on customers that they don’t want or need is a mistake. Use market knowledge and research to understand who your customers are and what they’re looking for in their shopping experience. When paired with your definition of the customer experience, the solution a merchant invests in should present both immediate and long-term benefits for customer engagement and loyalty, to the mutual benefit of both the merchant and customer.
3. Do the research. Understanding the customer experience is a strong first step, but before making any decisions, merchants must do their research to truly understand the payment technologies and products available. Also consider which technologies make the most sense in various situations. Don’t look to spend a lot of money on a new payment acceptance technology, but do take notice of mobile-based solutions that can drive more customers into your stores. In many cases, these mobile-based solutions will include payments as one of the primary integrated features.
4. Stay flexible. No one mobile solution has emerged as a “must have.” Consequently, solutions that can adapt to give merchants multiple payment acceptance options mean merchants won’t be left with potentially antiquated technology soon after purchase. This all points back to the importance of a merchant doing his or her homework and relying on trusted advisors.
5. Partner with the experts. Merchant processors understand the market is changing, and have to stay up to date on where it’s all headed. As a result, they can help guide merchants as they consider a strategy that best fits their particular goals and interests.