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What are Retailers’ Top Customer Engagement Priorities for 2019?

As retailers look for ways to differentiate in today’s highly competitive market, customer engagement strategies like personalization, mobile experience and real-time retail are critical components for optimizing the customer’s shopping experience. In fact, according to the recent BRP Consumer Study, 79% said personalized service from a sales associate was an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop. Retailers understand the importance of personalization as 53% are focused on this for 2019, according to the 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey.

Retailers understand the imperative for change, as 94% of retailers, up from 81% last year, have indicated that they have or plan to implement a single unified commerce platform within the next three years. “It is time to reimagine the customer engagement model as yesterday’s retail is dead, and agility is paramount as retail continues to rapidly evolve,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP. “Key to this agility and transformation is a single commerce platform. Victory belongs to the agile.”

“As customer expectations for an increasingly customized experience increase and evolve, retailers are adopting new ways to identify customers and personalize their shopping journey,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Retailers continue to offer more mobile services from a consumer-facing and associate-facing perspective that include personalized recommendations, loyalty rewards, coupons, discounts and promotions. It is also interesting to note that 63% of retailers plan on having the ability to use a customer owned mobile device as a POS device within three years.

BRP’s 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as digital and physical retail environments converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels.

The key customer experience trends driving today’s initiatives are:

PERSONAL – Engaging the customer with personalized and relevant messaging is the key to customer loyalty

  • 79% of consumers said personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop
  • 53% of retailers indicate that personalization is one of their top customer engagement priorities

MOBILE – The pervasiveness and ease-of-use of mobile devices offers tremendous opportunities for retailers

  • 63% of consumers use their mobile phone while shopping in a store to compare prices, look for offers/coupons, check inventory availability, etc.
  • 49% of retailers indicate that the customer mobile experience is one of their top customer engagement priorities

SEAMLESS – Today’s customer journey crisscrosses channels, requiring the retailer to provide a seamless, personalized experience

  • 56% of consumers indicate they are more likely to shop at a retailer that allows them to have a shared cart across channels
  • 94% of retailers have or plan to implement a single unified commerce platform within three years, up from 81% last year

SECURE – Today’s retail environment requires security beyond retailers’ current focus on payments and networks

  • 50% of consumers are likely to allow retailers to save purchase history, personal preferences and personal details if it eases the checkout process and allows for more personalized offers
  • 61% of retailers have implemented end-to-end encryption to offer customers greater security of their personal and payment data

I encourage you to download the complete 20thAnnual POS/CustomerEngagement Benchmarking Survey:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2019-pos-survey/

A special thanks goes to our POS/Customer Engagement Survey sponsors:  TSYS is the platinum sponsor, the gold sponsors are AptosDiebold Nixdorf, ECRS and Fujitsu, and the silver sponsor is STORIS.

As always, I appreciate your feedback on this report. Please share your comments and opinions below.

David

EMV is here to stay — but has it helped?

STORES – The din from the drum of the EMV mandate is not what it was three years ago. But the reverberations over compelling retailers to adopt costly new point-of-sale technology in order to accept new chip-based credit and debit cards — and the debate over whether doing so has reduced fraud — continue to ripple through the industry.

“The road to adoption of EMV in traditional POS has been painful,” Boston Retail Partners Senior Vice President Perry Kramer says, noting “many of the regulations were still being finalized as merchants were developing processes” to implement the technology. Retailers faced challenges such as customers learning to “dip” rather than swipe. And consumers complained that EMV transaction took longer than mag-stripe, although that issue was largely resolved through the card industry’s rollout of “quick chip” EMV technology in 2016, he says.

“What you see today is that the majority of the Tier 1 retailers have it in, and it is working very well,” Kramer says. But “there’s a broad user experience still out there with EMV, some of it being very good and some of it not being so good.” Many smaller retailers continue to struggle through the transition, Kramer adds. “This is due to a number of reasons including the cost of upgrading the software and hardware,” he says. “Change management and resource efforts required to make the changes continue to compete with other business priorities in a segment that has a very small resource pool.”

Read Full Article: EMV is here to stay — but has it helped?

With Mobile Pay, You Can Go Without a Wallet at Checkout

The New York Times – When you’re at the checkout line this holiday season, you could juggle your bags and dig into your purse or billfold for your credit or debit card. Or you could use that phone you’re already clutching, or that new smartwatch strapped to your wrist. Many stores now accept mobile wallets, a technology that lets customers make payments via smartphone or watch.

Still, many consumers are sticking with their cards due to concerns about safety or the familiarity of good old plastic. But if you’re ready to give mobile wallets a try, here’s what you need to know to get started.

WHERE MOBILE WALLETS WORK BEST.

HOW MOBILE WALLETS WORK.

MOBILE WALLET ADOPTION HAS STALLED.

Concerns about safeguards are another issue. Many consumers are more worried about the security of mobile wallet payments than traditional card payments, says Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners, a retail consulting company. But mobile wallets do have some security advantages over regular credit and debit cards.

HOW BANK INFORMATION IS KEPT SECURE.

Read Full Article: With Mobile Pay, You Can Go Without a Wallet at Checkout

PayPal Adds In-Store Solutions With iZettle Acquisition

Retail TouchPoints – PayPal will acquire iZettle, a small business commerce platform operating in Europe and Latin America, for $2.2 billion. The deal will combine iZettle’s in-store solutions with PayPal’s global scale and mobile and online payment systems.

PayPal will gain in-store capabilities in Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden, where iZettle works with nearly 500,000 merchants. Additionally, the deal will open near-term in-store expansion opportunities in some of PayPal’s other markets, and accelerate the growth of its omnichannel commerce solutions in Australia, the UK and the U.S.

The move toward omnichannel could be beneficial for PayPal, as 81% of retailers are expected to deploy unified commerce platforms by 2020, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). As of February 2018, 28% of respondents were already using a single platform to support commerce for stores, mobile and the web.

Read Full Article: PayPal Adds In-Store Solutions With iZettle Acquisition

Keeping up with ways to pay

Albuquerque Journal — The evolution of money looks something like this: barter, coins, paper, plastic and now, phones. Ask local business owners what their payment preferences are these days, and you’re likely to hear a range of responses. While most customers are using multiple systems, such as paying electronically and using debit and credit cards and mobile apps, there still are consumers who prefer paying in cash or who can be persuaded by a business owner to write a check.

We’ve all encountered them: The home remodeler, the landscaper, the tailor at the dry cleaner, restaurateurs and food truck operators who are happy to accept payments other than plastic to avoid merchant fees on Visa and Mastercard transactions, the companies that handle about 70 percent of all credit card activity in the U.S.

The way consumers interact with money clearly is changing, and most small businesses are able to handle many payment methods. In the past 20 years, banks have pushed credit and debit cards at consumers, and shoppers have embraced the convenience and perks that come with plastic, such as receiving reward points and cash back and building a credit history

To get a glimpse of one aspect of commerce in America, look no further than your neighborhood Starbucks. The average Joe lining up for his morning cup of joe increasingly is paying with a mobile phone app heavily promoted by the coffee retailer. With more than 7 million active customers using the mobile payment system, Starbucks, based in tech-savvy Seattle, is looking to transform the way on-the-go coffee is selling today.

There are a multitude of mobile wallets and payment apps on the market today, Apple Pay has the largest percentage of supporting U.S. merchants, with 36 percent accepting the mobile payment service today, up from 16 percent last year, research released by Boston Retail Partners reveals.

PayPal falls in second place, with a 34 percent acceptance rate, followed by Mastercard PayPass (25 percent), Android Pay (24 percent), Visa Checkout (20 percent), Samsung Pay (18 percent), Chase Pay (11 percent) and private label mobile wallets with 4 percent, the 18th annual edition of the POS/Customer Engagement Survey shows.

Read Full Article: Keeping up with ways to pay

6 Ways to Sell Point-of-Sale Systems

Business 2 Community – The good news for point of sale resellers is that today’s market is a fertile one. More merchants than ever want to adopt the latest and greatest POS devices that enable them to handle a wider variety of transactions than ever before, and harness the informational power modern POS provides. However, because the ground is so fertile, overall, there is also plenty of competition out there from other POS resellers. So the question for any reseller becomes, “What can be done to stand out from this crowded field?”

The answer boils down to the ability to sell not only POS platforms and card readers themselves, but also the services resellers provide that others may not.

At the end of the day, it’s also worth considering that merchants are not only trying to meet their own internal needs, but also those of their customers. To that end, the fact that EMV and mobile have really gained a foothold in the market, and are only likely to keep gathering momentum in this regard, makes a reseller crucial to just about any merchant, according to BRP Consulting. Merchants of all sizes now recognize that they have to confront the future head-on and deliver as much personalized, direct attention to each customer as possible. As such, recent data suggests that the majority of merchants will try to achieve those goals over the next two years or so.

To that end, modern POS is there to support those efforts in multiple ways, and resellers play a role insofar as they can provide crucial insights and help merchants follow a roadmap that will provide them with near- and long-term success.

Read Full Article: 6 Ways to Sell Point-of-Sale Systems

81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020

Retail Dive – By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms, to support commerce across the enterprise’s stores, mobile users and the web, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). This is seen as essential to competing in the omnichannel environment.

In the online survey of 500 North American retailers, BRP found 28% of respondents had implemented unified commerce, compared to 9% the previous year.

This year’s BRP survey shows that retailers are making progress on implementing unified commerce platforms. Last year, BRP predicted 73% of retailers would have such a platform in place by 2019, and 22% already had one deployed.

Technology and consumer expectations are constantly moving the needle on what is expected from retailers across all channels of their operations.

BRP evaluated how retailers are doing in implementing solutions to meet consumer demands in its “2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey.” Moving forward, the top three priorities of retailers for the year ahead are customer identification and personalization of the customer experience (62%), alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps and the Web (54%) and empowering associates with mobile tools (51%).

“Customers appreciate personalized offers and recommendations when shopping online or via mobile, and now they expect the same personalization, or better, when they shop in a store,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP in a statement. “As customer expectations have been reshaped by the digital retail experience, successful retailers have shifted their focus in the physical store environment.”

Retailers are modifying the technology used to identify customers in their stores by decreasing their use of mobile websites, which declined from 40% in 2017 to 28% in 2018, and increasing the use of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses as unique identifiers by 26%. Also on the rise are beacons (19%), and Bluetooth (16%). There will be continued increases in the use of beacon technology in the near future, according to BRP.

Read Full Article: 81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020

Survey: 81% Of Retailers Will Deploy Unified Commerce Platforms By 2020

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers understand that gaps between shoppers’ personalized experiences online and in brick-and-mortar stores are problematic, and they are employing technology to satisfy consumers across every channel, at any time and via the method of their choosing.

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) identifies cloud-based unified commerce — the use of a single platform to support commerce for stores, mobile and the web — as the linchpin to competing in a fast-changing, omnichannel environment. In an online survey of 500 top North American retailers, BRP found that 28% of respondents have already implemented unified commerce, more than three times the percentage (9%) reporting that capability last year. By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will have deployed unified commerce.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, Principal at BRP in a statement. Because legacy retail applications and infrastructure are not equipped for today’s requirements, “retail winners in 2018 and beyond need to accelerate the transformation to cloud-based unified commerce.”

Three Top Customer Engagement Priorities For 2018

In its 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, BRP evaluated retailers’ progress in implementing technology solutions to meet customers’ ever-rising expectations. Retailers’ three top priorities for 2018 are:

  • Customer identification/personalization of the customer experience (62%);
  • Alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps and the web (54%); and
  • Empowering associates with mobile tools (51%).

Read Full Article: Survey: 81% Of Retailers Will Deploy Unified Commerce Platforms By 2020

Should Your Small Business Accept Mobile Payments?

Business News Daily – In the past few years, you may have noticed a new kind of credit card terminal at cash registers, one that customers wave their smartphones over. These new mobile payment systems that use NFC technology have been cropping up everywhere, with companies like Apple, Samsung and Google hoping to make their mobile phones a new replacement for your credit cards.

Since going online in 2014, Apple Pay has been available to the roughly 90 million U.S. iPhone owners, with alternatives made available to Samsung, LG and other Android smartphones. However, most smartphone owners have not been using these virtual wallets.

While using your smartphone to pay for groceries, gas and other goods hasn’t become as synonymous as using your debit card, consumers are still interested in the convenience of carrying their cards with them virtually in their phone. According to a Boston Retail Partners study, Apple Pay, the most popular mobile wallet is currently accepted by 37 percent retailers, with 40 percent planning on accepting it in the near future. Apple’s competitors aren’t far behind either.

The more retailers offer the option for contactless, mobile payments, the more consumers will realize that it’s a viable option for payment, and vice-versa – as confidence builds that their private information will be kept secure, consumers will drive demand for more vendors to provide NFC contactless readers at the register.

Read full article: Should Your Small Business Accept Mobile Payments?

Amid Disruptive Technology, Retailers Transform Operations

Convenience Store Decisions – As technology continues to bring disruptions and customer expectations change, retailers are evolving to keep pace with the times.

Disruption and adaptation are changing the customer engagement model and blurring the lines among retailers, brands and wholesalers. Online pure-plays are opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional retailers are experimenting with new store models: stores as showrooms, theatre, distribution centers or pop-ups. To enable the new customer experience and support its rapid evolution requires a different technology approach.

According to the Boston Retail Partners (BRP) 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, retailers recognize the urgency to transform their operations and 81% plan to have unified commerce within three years.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP. “However, the legacy retail applications and infrastructure still in place at many retail organizations are not properly equipped to support changing retail models and continuously evolving customer expectations. To meet the demands of their customer, the retail winners in 2018 and beyond need to accelerate the transformation to cloud-based unified commerce. Victory belongs to the agile.”

“As customer expectations have been reshaped by the digital retail experience, successful retailers have shifted their focus in the physical store environment,” added Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Customers appreciate personalized offers and recommendations when shopping online or via mobile, and now they expect the same personalization, or better, when they shop in a store. Understanding the importance of personalization, 62% of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority as they transform the in-store customer experience.”

To download the complete 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, visit: https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-pos-survey/.

Read Full Article: Amid Disruptive Technology, Retailers Transform Operations