Marketplaces looking for new merchants and products to sell to their customer base? Regional retailers and local merchants upgrading their point of sale systems to keep payment data secure and remain compliant? Mom & Pop shop owners imagining new ways to stay relevant and visible to compete with the big retail giants?
Having spent the week in Chicago at the R2 Summit, I can tell you it’s all of the above. And more.
For two days, retailers, merchants and the vendors that serve them discussed and speculated on the driving forces behind offering today’s anytime, anywhere consumers access to the goods and services they want, when they want them. Everything from installing beacons in stores to offering real-time discounts and coupons to enabling mobile payments at the point of sale and the challenges of global cross-border payment acceptance was covered. From this participant’s perspective, a “one size fits all” approach was a common undertone to the dialogue throughout the event.
I think merchants need to assess where they are on the spectrum and align themselves with tools and partners that can best help them achieve the business model they want to embody and promote. For example, this may be a focus on working moms who lack time to stop and shop for diapers and groceries or on selling clothes to millennials who aren’t as committed to one brand or another, but are more willing to experiment with “cool” payment technology if it elevates their purchase experience. In the former example, retailers will think of things like making the online purchase experience seamless and secure, coupled with logistics options that are not only cost effective, but quick and easy. For the latter, it might mean serving the consumer with alternative payment options to give them broader choice on how they want to transact.
With R2’s “Wake UP to New” theme, one thing is apparent: the wait and see approach is not a viable option in today’s competitive retailing environment. More and more businesses are entering the market with new and interesting ways to offer myriad payment options, couponing, loyalty programs and more to provide the consumer with a unique, personalized purchase experience. Technology is moving faster than the retailer revolution. However digitization democratizes the retailer opportunity and gives the retailer a competitive edge. There is real opportunity for merchants, large and small, to take advantage of the tools in the marketplace to stay competitive and not become the case study at next year’s conference on “what went wrong.”
What are you doing to reinvent yourself?