goodluz - Fotolia

Paymentless retail could be the future, says Barclaycard VP of strategy and innovation

The ideal in-store customer experience would be for payments to be an invisible part of the shopping process, says Barclaycard’s vice-president of strategy and innovation

Consumers should be able to select their items and leave a store without having to take the time to pay for the best customer experience, according to Anita Liu Harvey, vice-president of strategy and innovation at Barclaycard.

Speaking at the 2017 Retail Business Technology Expo, Liu Harvey said with customer expectation increasing, it is becoming more common for payment to happen before or after a purchase as opposed to in-store, and this will be the ideal in the future.

“Nobody likes to pay but it’s a necessary evil – to find the item we want and just walk out of the shop with it would be the best scenario,” she said.

“The highstreet needs to find ways to integrate payments into the customer experience so it’s a seamless experience.”

With shopping through mobile devices on the rise and services such as click-and-collect driving consumers into stores, Liu Harvey suggested using mobile technologies to engage consumers while they’re in bricks-and-mortar locations to increase conversions.

“Use your online channels to drive traffic in store where possible,” she said. “You’ve got a captive market once you’ve got customers in store, so what can you do to further engage them?”

Using technologies such as endless aisle systems driven by tablets or in-store technology that provides more information can help customers make purchasing decisions, whether or not those purchases happen in the store or later online.

Many stores are now using endless aisle systems to help consumers look through and order products in store that can then be delivered to their homes, making stores a location for showrooming where consumers test products before buying them elsewhere – in some cases, customers even purchase items in store and leave without goods.

“There’s only so much stock you can physically hold in stores, but if you have digital kiosks you can help them search that inventory there,” said Liu Harvey.

But legacy systems, according to Liu Harvey, are one of the barriers retailers can suffer when trying to integrate new technologies – flexible short-term contracts that can integrate into existing systems are one of the ways firms can tackle this.

“With technology moving at the pace it is, we’re inevitably going to have some platforms that are out of date. You’ll have to invest in new platforms and tech to keep up with the times, but how do you know the platform you’re investing in won’t be out of date in two years’ time?”

Getting frictionless retail right

Click-and-collect is one of the best ways to remove payments from the in-store experience as customers have paid before entering the physical environment.

Using mobile applications to pre-order goods to pick up in store or pre-ordering services and paying through stored details are also becoming more common, with Liu Harvey citing Uber or Amazon Go as examples.

“They’re able to do that because they have your payment details on file. Take payments out of the equation and have those seamless experiences,” she said.

Customers are harder to engage and, since mobile point-of-sale systems have been introduced, are becoming even more demanding – Barclaycard data found two in three people have abandoned an in-store clothing purchase because of poor in-store experience.

“Ultimately, with payments being able to happen anywhere, there’s going to be no need for fixed points of sale anymore,” said Lui Harvey.

Mobile is also playing part in loyalty schemes, with many customers prefering to collect loyalty points through their smartphones, and can be used to drive a more personalised experience for individuals.

Read more about retail technology

Liu Harvey believes this trend could drive adoption of mobile wallets in the future, as currently mobile wallets are not seen as any more convenient than using a payment card.

“Why get out a mobile to pay when I can get out my card, unless it’s giving me something over and above – loyalty is going to play a huge part in this,” she said.

As omni-channel becomes more common in the retail space, customers reportedly “don’t care” what channel they’re interacting with, whether in-store, online or via mobile, as they just want a consistent experience.

“What we’re expecting [as customers] is the right to engage with brands wherever we want, whenever we want and how we want, and we want to do it on our terms,” said Liu Harvey.

This has to be driven by technology, developing systems that allow a single customer view through data, which is connected to a single payments platform and a single view of inventory across all of the retailer’s channels.

“Gone are the days where you can consider your online business and your store business as separate channels any more,” said Liu Harvey. ... ... ...

Read more on IT for retail and logistics