The march towards cashless: How can retailers keep up?

By Lee Jones, Director of Sales and Business Development at Ingenico Enterprise Retail

From contactless cards to mobile wallets and beyond, consumers’ payments preferences are rapidly tipping the scale towards a completely cash-free existence. Although this is an exciting prospect for consumers, this leaves retailers in a tricky situation – get to grips with new innovations or risk being left in the past. In order to stand a chance in the modern world, retailers must update their systems to support contactless, mobile payments, in-app options and more. Fortunately, with expert support, this is almost as easily said as it is done.

Consumer chameleons

Whether they’re big-chain players, small independents or even smaller market stalls, numerous retailers have been taking steps to adapt to changes in consumer culture by offering some form of alternative payment option. However, it has taken some time for many of these retailers to reach this point; it was not that long ago that every convenience store came with a minimum charge when using card. What’s more, many retailers still haven’t made the full transition, and some independent stores and pop-up markets are yet to make the change at all.

One part of the sector which is struggling to keep up with the shift is the unattended kiosk market. Whereas some self-service kiosks do offer a contactless payment method, it is often rarely updated and only accepts bank cards, leaving popular methods such as mobile bank wallets unsupported. Vending machines are also halfway there, but gachapon machines – small toy dispensers often found outside retailers and children’s play areas – are still exclusively coin-operated.

Furthermore, alternative payments options are often only widespread in larger cities, such as Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester and London. In less populated places, traditional coin-operated machines are still in service. With no one around to attend to customers, these markets are unusable by many of the population and not only present an inconvenience to the consumer but a loss in sales for the owner.

Upgrading these self-service payment terminals is not a cheap endeavour – taking up precious time and resources. The biggest problem however, is that many retailers are unsure where to even begin.

Out with the old

In light of this situation, payments experts, Ingenico Enterprise Retail, and value-added reseller, Hemisphere West Europe (HWE), have partnered together to help inform merchants on what steps they can take to make the switch to cashless payments seamless and more cost-effective. By outsourcing to a specialist in the contactless payments sector, industry best practices are being utilised to update and replace many of these unattended merchant kiosks.

For true longevity in a society where differing payment options are on the rise, shop owners can’t afford to rely on outdated technology. New payments methods are being increasingly adopted by consumers, and it is important that terminal updates are maintained to prevent missing out on sales. An Application Programming Interface (API) is the solution to a long-lasting contactless terminal as it allows merchants to integrate their partner’s payment applications into the device. This makes updating terminals with the latest payment methods more cost-efficient and less time-consuming.

A helping hand

Ultimately, retailers, especially those who have a stake in the unattended market, need to begin providing an option for all kinds of payments – whether that be card, mobile or otherwise. While it appears to be a daunting process for many merchants, there are specialists out there who exist to make that transition easier.

Ingenico Enterprise Retail’s omnichannel solution is one such option, providing merchants with a multi-factor offering to suit their needs. From a payment gateway that accepts multiple payment methods, to acquiring facilities and advanced data monitoring, the solution allows merchants to process transactions across any channel, increase conversion, improve user experience, as well as handle fraud risks.

While cash payments are not yet completely devoid, it is important that retailers provide multiple cashless options in order to meet the demands of changing consumer habits. This way, merchants can ensure maximum conversion on their sales while also guaranteeing a positive experience for their customers.

To learn more about how Ingenico can help your business embrace cashless, visit www.ingenico.co.uk/omnichannel/hwe.

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