The payments industry is constantly in motion. There are always new innovations on the horizon, even as merchants are still adapting to the last big change. We are focused on our software partner integrations, and the launch of Singular BillPAY, our customizable electronic bill presentment and payment platform (EBPP). These two main areas of our expertise, in addition to continuing to support and nurture our valued flat rate merchants, will continue to drive our focus forward as we also adapt to big changes in the industry this year. Here are some of the exciting things coming down the pipeline to keep an eye out for. Many of these will also show through in our platform which is powered by our technology partner CardConnect. So, get ready – it’s going to be a really fun year!
- MOBILE APPS TAKE OVER THE TRADITIONAL COUNTERTOP CHECKOUT
This is something that has been taking over for the last 2-3 years. We support mobile checkout through our partner software integrations, our Singular BillPAY platform, and our secure online credit card processing portal CardPointe. The main issue here is consumers want things done as fast and efficiently as possible. We all do, really. But when it comes to checking out, whether in a dentist office or at a big box store, convenience and speed are key. With a variety of mobile checkout options popping up, consumers are really leaning on merchants to get creative and adapt to this direction.
According to a recent article on Pmnts.com, “Consumers increasingly won’t use their phones to look for stuff inside or outside of a store, and then walk into them and wait patiently in line to pay for those items using a plastic card like they’ve done for the last 60 years. Nor will they routinely stand patiently in those same lines and whack their phones or their watches against a POS terminal that can enable a contactless transaction. They’ll instead leverage cloud-based apps to check out on their phones inside the store – and use them increasingly to pay things that they want to buy before they even step one foot inside. And in doing business this way the customers will establish preference for the merchants that enable that experience.” It’s this key shift in the way consumers expect to pay that will ultimately drive mobile app adoption for merchants.
- CONTEXTUALIZED COMMERCE WILL UP THE ANTE ON IMPULSE BUYING BEHAVIORS
For some time now the industry has been working toward blending more into the background of the checkout process, so that paying for a product or service becomes so seamless and simple consumers barely notice. “Payments would simply become invisible as they became embedded into other apps that in the first instance solved other problems for a consumer – just as Uber did for those who wanted an alternative to a taxi.” This notion of “invisible payments” has become what the industry now calls contextual commerce, and it’s the latest buzzword. Similar to how the advertising space has spent years ‘blending’ ads inconspicuously into the user experience across the web, now contextual commerce takes the notion of embedding payments into apps and raises it to the next level. In the end, this transition is about enabling making a payment seamless in the various digital experiences that consumers engage in during the course of their day.
According to an article by Pmnts.com, “The latest Pew report says that consumers today spend about 5 hours and 38 minutes online. About 2 percent of that time is spent “shopping.” Instead, what consumers do with their digital day is check Facebook or other social media apps, text their friends, take pictures, listen to music, watch videos, play games, get caught up on news and weather, search for stuff, and get directions. All of these environments, naturally, provide a rich set of information about consumer behavior that can shape or influence or even trigger a purchase in a very relevant and contextual way. It’s why advertisers and brands and retailers find mobile and digital such an amazingly attractive environment. It’s also why ad blockers are among the most popular apps on mobile devices. Consumers find being served with ads in that environment utterly and amazingly annoying.”
However, what merchants are counting on with contextual commerce is creating the ability to payment-enable impulse purchases in a new and different way. Like the new ‘buy button’ approach of platforms like Pinterest, Facebook and Amazon, when integrated effectively, the goal is for consumers to buy and continue with whatever they were engaged in with little to no thought about the purchase they made. It’s the ‘I want it now’ mentality that consumers today are famous for – just on steroids because in the ‘now’ moment, a simple one-click payment option is right there. Gotcha!
- LOYALTY + PAYMENTS WILL DOMINATE
Loyalty programs are nothing new. It’s the old ‘give something to get something’ institution that’s made the ‘buy x amount get one free’ loyalty card a staple pretty much everywhere one frequents today. Loyalty programs, store cards, and online ‘shopper portals’ are the primary way businesses have tried to make up for the lack of data about the customers that walk into their physical locations. For example, by enrolling patients of your dental clinic, for example, in a loyalty program of some kind you do two things. First, you collect valuable patient data about their wants/needs/interests to reach out to them later. And secondly, you almost guarantee a repeat visit just so the patient can see what they get for their loyalty! While this has long been a retail-only trick, it’s taking service-oriented businesses by storm now as well.
And here is where payments ties in to the loyalty game. Combining a loyalty program, with a customer’s payment data about where in the area they also shop, how much they spend, and how frequently, can go a long way into creating targeted marketing plans to really drive business. If for example, you know from a customer’s loyalty card that they buy 2-pairs of eyeglasses a year and they also visit the juice store nearby based on correlating credit card data, now you can enroll them in a text or email alert program to stop by for a sale on times they typically go to the juice store nearby. Tricky, right? But today, competition is fierce and detailed consumer data means dollars.
Stay tuned to our posts for more nifty payment industry innovations. We’re in the thick of it and look forward to sharing what’s next with our merchants. Follow us on Twitter @SingularPayment and Facebook also!