Retail is changing. Australian businesses of all shapes and sizes are being transformed by technologies that blur the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds. That much is true – and some might say quite obvious. But unless you love data and devices for their own sake, what is often unclear is why retailers need to invest in new tech. What purpose does it serve?
The answer is simple – to keep customers happy. To provide such a great experience, that you attract new consumers as well as keep existing ones coming back for more. In short, it’s about giving customers what they want.
There are whole libraries devoted to the topic of customer acquisition and retention, but rapid change, driven by the adoption of new technology, has rendered much of it irrelevant. Australians are embracing new ways to pay, with research showing that within a week of using their mobile device to pay, 70% of consumers will become regular mobile payment users.
So how can you turn new tech into a business advantage? Here is a quick list of what I have found customers want, and how you can deliver them. These are based on my interactions with retailers, business partners and colleagues, to help inform my top five (lucky I work for a company that serves 53.9 million businesses globally!).
Customers want choice and convenience
It might start with an Instagram post from an influencer or a WhatsApp message from a friend, but from the moment someone is motivated to seek out a product or service that you offer, it’s your job to make it easy for them to buy it. From locating what he or she wants – via social media, on your website/app, or by visiting your store, to clicking/reaching for the item, to paying for it. Especially that last bit – paying. They’ve committed to the item and human nature dictates that they must have it now. They don’t want to wait until payday, they don’t want to be told what payment method to use, and they certainly don’t want to wait in a queue to pay you. This is why ‘buy now, pay later’ options are on the rise, cards are being left in wallets as customers pay using their mobiles and wearables, and in-app payments are gaining traction.
Customers want access
If you thought it was getting a little more crowded on the beaches that’s because over nine million people are visiting our shores every year. That’s according to Tourism Australia. Some retailers might think that if they don’t sell kangaroo key-rings they aren’t in the tourism business. But the surge in international visitor numbers brings new opportunities for every retailer, so make sure you are catering to their needs. Top of the list has to be the ability to accept their payment method of choice. With travellers’ cheques pretty much extinct, and the use of cash declining, it’s important to be with a payment provider that enables international transactions – online as well as in store. If you’re a business in Ballarat selling Uggs, your next customer could be someone in Norway with cold feet.
Customers want to use technology
Ever since the late Steve Jobs unleashed the iPhone into the world a decade ago, we’ve been expecting more and more of our lives to be enabled by the smartphone in our pocket. When its mission critical for you to provide the right inventory and service for your customer demographic, you need to understand how they behave in a mobile-first world. Customers use their phone to find your shop – in-store or online, to take photos of what you are selling, to compare your offering with someone else’s, to show their friends, to launch a discussion about whether to buy, to then pay, and later to be reminded about the experience in a way that acknowledges their personal choices and prompts them to return. And all with their smartphone. Is your business optimised for mobile?
Customers want great brands
Shopping is one of those human activities that is driven by emotion as well as logic. It’s why brands matter, especially now that the internet means you are competing with every store in the world for a sale. For consumers a ‘known brand’ takes the risk out of making a purchase. If you’re wondering how to boost your company’s credibility, align it with one that has invested years, even decades, in creating a brand that speaks to trust and innovation. Some people call this the ‘halo effect’.
Customers want to feel secure
Security is a bit like housework – only noticed when it doesn’t get done. Except the consequences are much worse than an untidy living room. The more payment options that arise, the more pressing the need to ensure the most robust privacy and security measures are in place. Trust is hard won, and easily lost. Protecting your customers’ data is arguably more important than protecting your own, so don’t be afraid to ask your payment provider about the measures they are taking to keep your customers – and you – safe.
About the Author
Dan Parsons is Visa’s Head of Merchant Sales and Acquiring for Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Visa serves 3.3 billion accountholders worldwide (that’s more than the population of China, India and US combined), of which millions are in Australia. To find out more click here.
All brand names and logos are the property of their respective owners, are used for identification purposes only.
 Survey of 1,002 Australian consumers conducted by RFi Group in November 2018 showed that within a week of using their mobile device to pay, 70% of consumers will become regular mobile payment users.
 Data provided to Visa by acquiring financial institutions and other third parties
 2017 Value of Visa Research – a quantitative survey commissioned by Visa and conducted by an independent research firm, Ipsos LLC. The study was conducted in 16 markets around the globe in June, 2017. Note: Lift is relative to absence or presence of signage.