An eye on the future and an ear to the ground – adopting technical advances and listening to customers - the secret of success

20 / 01 / 2023

It is fair to say that 2022 has been a year of sharp contradictions across every vertical sector within the global payment marketplace and most particularly within retail and hospitality. The enormous relief to emerge from the rigours and tribulations of the pandemic, both from a personal and macro-economic perspective, has been tempered by the inevitable global economic fall-out which includes a very tough cost of living crisis and rising inflation in many countries which is severely and negatively impacting just about every commercial sector. Where is this taking us all in terms of outlooks and trends for the payments industry for the new year?

Young woman shopping online in cafe using lap top and credit card

Within mobile payments specifically, this ‘new normal’ has led to significant advances in the recognition of and approach to service levels and how these can seriously affect customer satisfaction and loyalty, i.e. the intrinsic value behind optimising the overall customer experience. Delays at point of sale, lack of choice and queues are incredibly frustrating. The requirement for multiple devices such as barcode scanners, Chip and PIN devices, security tag machines and receipt printers, in order to complete a transaction from start to finish, whether in a store or restaurant, can be mind boggling and intensely annoying. However, 2023 will see continued progress in the development of new technologies to counter such impediments. For example, we are very likely going to see the advent of personal smart devices where customers enter a venue, select their goods or services and actually use their own device to build a basket and checkout their own purchases directly. Likewise, we expect the new year to see the steady implementation of SoftPOS technology, which enables merchants to use NFC embedded smartphones or tablets as secure payment terminals. Obviously, this results in a simpler and more seamless customer experience.

Likewise, the acceleration of the trend towards digitalisation adoption will prove critical for any organisation which wants to prove it is nimble and agile. It will need to demonstrate how its people use technology to support the client and then how they can use this technology to help those customers’ businesses develop and evolve for the future. So, we are seeing a growing interest around things like data at the moment and, Worldline, as a payments provider itself, is able to understand and predict a lot about how and why customers buy things. For example, what are their preferences? Where do they like to spend most of their time across the different sales channels? Merchants can then utilise this data to identify patterns more accurately across the purchase chain, such as how many items does one need to actually have in a particular store, or location at any given time. They can also start to understand, by looking at shopper history, how many people they are likely to see come through the doors of their outlet – highly valuable data indeed. Another obvious benefit for merchants is that this data will help them to implement loyalty programmes – or improve existing ones. Loyalty is absolutely crucial for businesses to support client retention. Therefore in 2023 and beyond it will be increasingly critical to adopt digitalisation and recognise how it can help businesses organise themselves and make them able to embrace change – for change is all around us. These will be the businesses who prove to be the most agile and consequently the most successful.

Change often appears from nowhere and the least expected developments can revolutionise the marketplace. I remember, going back to 2004 when Chip and PIN first started to emerge in the UK and retailers were pushing back saying that we were just trying to fix a problem – mainly fraud - that didn’t exist. Well, look at how that has changed. Similarly contactless payments and how people now pay using their rings, watches and other previously unfathomable methods.

So, clearly a successful organisation will need to invest heavily in the shopper experience, whether this is in the physical service offering, or technological advances across multiple channels –  not resting on its laurels. The world of payments is a fast moving and exciting one where it will be fascinating to see what comes next.

Lee Jones

CEO of Worldline Merchant Services UK Ltd.
Lee is the Chief Executive Officer for Worldline Merchant Services UK Limited and, alongside his team, has an unparalleled track record of helping organisations deliver a reliable, secure and fuss-free checkout experience. Having held a variety of leadership roles with market leading technology companies over a 20-year period, Lee is passionate about driving solutions that deliver real value to his customers. Leading Worldline into new markets, where the introduction of cashless payments is just starting to emerge, while supporting existing customers in their ambition to meet and exceed shopper expectations, is something which highly interests Lee. Lee is proud of the trust customers have placed in Worldline and his team. Being able to help organisations reduce the cost, complexity and burden of PCI while assuring their revenues and enabling them to increase their customer satisfaction scores is at the heart of Worldline’s strategy.