Retail

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May 28, 2016

Why Mobile Wallets Are Superior to Chip and PIN

 

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As banks and retailers try to avoid credit card fraud by turning to technologies like chip-enabled cards, mobile wallet solutions are still not being embraced as much as they should be.

Recently, banks launched their defense against credit card fraud by leaving the ramifications of fraudulent charges for the merchants to deal with. Merchants have thus been upgrading their equipment to accept credit cards with chips in hopes that the new and more secure technology will keep their customers’ account information secure, and customers coming back to their stores.

The problem with chip-enabled credit cards is that they’re slow to process. In the restaurant business and other industries that rely on being able to provide prompt service, seconds can add up and matter. 

 

Waiting Times for Chip-Enabled Card Processing

Imagine a grocery store clerk having to wait up to ten extra seconds for a chip-enabled credit card to process before it signals the receipt to print. Think about the frustration the clerk might endure and the delays the customers might experience. Why is this new and improved technology so slow? It has to do with the security processes. And while enhanced protection is a good thing, we think there are better solutions.

When a customer slides a chip-enabled credit card into the machine’s slot, the chip generates a one-time code that is sent to the bank over a secure network. The bank then confirms the code and sends the verification back to the machine; the customer is then able to walk off with goods or services.

 

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay as an Alternative

Instead of waiting eight seconds for a chip-enabled credit card to process, customers with iPhones, or Samsung or Android smartphones, can use mobile wallet applications at many retail locations to check out quickly. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay take about three seconds to process a transaction. Android Pay takes around seven seconds. We’ve even heard accounts of some mobile wallet processing taking only 2.4 seconds.

Granted, the length of time required to process chip-enabled credit cards is due in part to the fact that you have to insert the card, wait until the transaction is approved before signing, and then remove the card. It’s not the processing itself that takes all the time. But, with mobile wallets, all you have to do is have your app ready, tap, and scan. Of course, not all merchants take Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay. So, you’ll have to check for these logos on the merchants’ cash registers or research ahead of time to see which ones use the services.

Samsung Pay is the mobile wallet that’s accepted by most merchants, because it makes use of magnetic secure transmission. This technology produces a magnetic signal that acts like the magnetic strip on traditional credit cards, which means most credit card machines can read it. More banks support Apple Pay than Samsung Pay or Android Pay. Android Pay’s advantage is that it can operate on Android devices, Samsung phones, and even iPhones and Apple Watch. 

Staying on top of security, technology, and other aspects of life comes down to looking ahead and trying to predict where things are going, not focusing solely on where things are now. Hence, it might be best to ditch the old credit card solution for good in favor of mobile wallet technology, which can be used securely on the devices that seem to run so much of our lives.

May 27, 2016

Using SMS Messaging as Customer Service Tool

 

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It’s only when you stop to reflect what life was like ten years ago that you realize just how far SMS messaging has come. Back then, text messages were still primarily used for interpersonal communication between friends and family. Now, all kinds of businesses use SMS for all kinds of reasons, all of which enhance the customer experience and just make life easier for everyone. 

Think about the text messages you receive that aren’t from people you know personally. Banks send statements and fraud alerts; taxi drivers and ride-sharing services let you know they’ve arrived via text; healthcare providers send appointment reminders and everyone from airlines and travel companies to concert promoters and delivery services send confirmations by SMS.

The reason all these organizations are using text messaging over other forms of communication is very simple: people actually read their texts. Further, most people actually read ALL of their texts - and they usually do it within a few minutes of receipt. That fact is music to the ears of marketers in any industry, when you consider how routinely commercial emails are trashed, ignored, or junk filtered before they even had a chance. With SMS, around 90% of all messages are opened and read within three minutes. And since a similar percentage of the population owns a cellphone, using it as an effective way to reach people is a no-brainer. 

And yet, one-to-one customer support is one area where SMS messaging has been slow to take off - thought that’s beginning to change. So it should, because the potential is considerable.

 

SMS Customer Service is Win-Win

Firstly, every consumer out there is a candidate for SMS communication. It doesn’t require a smartphone, so even the most committed feature phone acolyte can be reached, and 2G networks are still the most reliable. Because of the 160 character restriction, a text message doesn’t demand too much of the recipient. There’s no action required - the recipient can consider the information and make their choice as to whether it’s relevant. If not, they can opt out of receiving future messages from the brand. 

Businesses love SMS because of the aforementioned high read rate, and the personal, informal tone generally expected of the information contained therein. A mobile marketing campaign centered around text messages is also incredibly cheap compared with more traditional mass media strategies. 

But while the benefits of SMS as a marketing strategy are well understood, we’re only just beginning to see customer service-based applications of the technology. Airlines have rightly spotted the aptness of text messaging for letting passengers know about delays and cancellations. Some have started using text messaging to help reduce wait times at check in, and provide passengers with a way of interacting with the airline that doesn’t require a tedious phone call.

May 11, 2016

The Hottest New Trends in Mobile Marketing

 

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The mobile revolution has taken serious root, with marketers scrambling to make their websites mobile-friendly, create new and exciting apps, and otherwise drive traffic and increase revenue through mobile means. This is the mobile age, and with that in mind let’s check out some of the hottest new trends taking over mobile marketing: 

 

“Smarter” Social Messaging Apps

There’s greater selection regarding social messaging apps than ever before, with options now including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Kik, Peach, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. People chat anytime, anywhere in today’s world, and about half of mobile phone users in the United States are predicted to rely on mobile messaging by the end of the year. The evolution of social media apps is already evident in China, where 91% of Internet users favor instant messaging over search. 

Platforms allow users to send multimedia messages, make payments, or use video call. They’re even used as interfaces for bot-driven interactions. 

 

Blurring Lines Among Apps, Social Media, And E-Commerce

Integration among apps and their social media and e-commerce outlets is a hot new mobile trend this year. Many social platforms are linking e-commerce features into their social media networks, such as Instagram’s “Shop Now” feature and Pinterest’s “Buyable Pins.” People didn’t used to shop on social media platforms, but the more seamless the integration, the more likely shopping on such platforms will become the norm. 

 

Branded Keyboards

A wide variety of branded keyboards are available through a mobile device’s app store, and function as ideal branding options. They allow companies to remain where they want, i.e. in consumers’ faces, without being a source of interruption or annoyance. App use equals keyboard use, meaning this type of branded engagement is far-reaching. Recent research indicates the average mobile device user works on the keyboard over 100 times per day, with branded keyboard leader Kibo seeing millions of downloads a month. And that was just in the company’s first year of operation. 

 

Apps=Lifestyle Reflections

In 2016 apps are expected to become integral parts of consumer lives as opposed to individual features that people turn to on occasion. Examples of apps as “lifestyle reflections” include fitness apps that offer weather alerts before a run and remind the person it’s time to pick up the dry cleaning. 

Lifestyle apps also increasingly indicate values. Think of consumers saying “I’m a proud fan or supporter of [x and y], which is why I use these [branded] apps.” 

 

More From Search Engine Results

Videos are already cropping up in Google’s search results, but the media giant is going a step further by experimenting with video ads. Should consumers take to video ads appearing in their search results, apps may also make appearances in SERPs. App directories and recommendations are already there, however apps as part of search engine results is a whole other thing. Such implementation will provide stores and directories with an exciting new set of opportunities. 

These and other trends are changing the marketing landscape, and mean marketers must remain that much more aware of current and future mobile trends. 

 

May 04, 2016

Technologies That Changed Retail

 

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In 2016, global business to consumer e-commerce sales is expected to reach $1.92 trillion. As impressive as this figure from Statista is, that’s millions of lost in-store experiences and missed customer service conversations. In an age of convenience, it can be easy to forget about what you might be missing.

Many shoppers enjoy walking down the aisles of large retail stores, checking prices and talking to people. They also like to touch the things they plan on buying. For every gained purchase online, a material purchase is lost, which has raised the stakes considerably for brick-and-mortar retail locations. If ever these stores needed a hero, it would be now. 

Who would have guessed that mobile technology could be that hero? The use of mobile technology in retail stores could save many from going out of business and help them keep pace with online shopping trends. Here’s how mobile technology is changing the retail game in a world full of online shoppers.

 

Saving Time with Retail Mobile Technology

Often, it’s faster to ask someone a question, make a suggestion, or compare two products than it is to find credible answers online. In fact, digging around on the Internet is almost more time-consuming than driving to the store in the first place.

Now, imagine all sales associates have smartphones or tablets that can locate what you want anywhere in the store. They can give you a price check, compare prices, and tell you where else you might find what you’re looking for. This is the direction mobile technology is heading, as physical retailers scramble to catch up on the super-highway. By empowering employees to help customers, mobile saves time while providing people with truly authentic service. Plus, shoppers get to walk out of the store with their merchandise in tow—no delivery time needed. 

 

Increase Productivity Among Retail Employees

Additionally, mobile technology will help retail owners save money by increasing the overall productivity of employees. In addition to customer service, mobile technology allows sales associates to manage inventories, place orders, receive shipments, take phone calls, and more. This also eliminates a mountain of paperwork and makes organizing data much less complicated. More people can do more work in a shorter amount of time.

Creating a network of employees working on mobile devices can also cut down on long checkout lines (especially during the holidays). The mobile Point of Sale (mPoS) is all about being ready the moment a customer agrees to make an in-store purchase and having an associate there to swipe the credit card. If that same customer walks to a long checkout line, they may decide not to wait. That’s a lost opportunity that’s likely to wind up somewhere online.

Shop owners can take some of those lost sales back by using mobile to capitalize on every possible sale.

The good old days we remember, when the Internet had yet become an e-commerce mecca and flashing banner ads were so bad they were good, are gone. To keep pace with all the sophisticated technology that keeps online shoppers coming back for more, brick-and-mortar retailers have no choice but to fire back with mobile.

May 01, 2016

Apps vs. Mobile Site

 

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As a small business owner, you’ve probably wondered whether to focus on making your website mobile friendly or utilizing the skills of a talented app developer. Both offer mobile marketing strategy advantages in light of industry, budget, and target audience, yet considering the amount of conflicting advice floating around, deciding which one to go with is often challenging. 

In 2013 a Compuware survey found that 85 percent of consumers enjoy apps over mobile websites. However, this hardly means one is better than the other, or that there isn’t just as huge a market for mobile sites. It’s like saying a percentage of people prefer the beach to the mountains—there’s still plenty of reasons to market mountain-based attractions. 

The decision to go with apps over a mobile website or vice versa depends on your mobile marketing strategy and related tactics.

 

Mobile-Friendly Websites

A mobile-optimized website is essentially a responsive design that recognizes when a visitor is using a mobile device and then converts the site to a version that’s easy to read via mobile. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to produce different or additional content for a mobile site, as you would have to for an app. This makes mobile marketing management a much more streamlined process, and allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, rather than concerning yourself with content all the time. 

Mobile websites arguably drive more traffic than apps, so consider your ultimate goals behind site use: are you looking to improve consumer loyalty, or increase revenue by expanding your customer base? A cross-channel site may be your best option depending on what you wish to accomplish. 

 

Apps

The main advantage of having an app for your business is that it lets you make excellent use of a tablet or smartphone’s hardware and native functionalities. Cameras, GPS, speedometers, gyroscopes, and other useful pieces of technology found on the vast majority of modern devices are easily worked into your app’s operation. 

Another advantage of apps is that they rarely require an internet connection to run. Most apps store data locally on a phone or tablet’s hard drive, so users may enjoy them even if no internet connection is available. For example, some news apps download and store content through a Wi-Fi connection so users may read about current events until the app is able to sync with another connection. 

App infrastructure and development tools are more sophisticated and user friendly than ever thanks to demand for app developers, with major operating systems offering a serious selection of frameworks for developers to work with. Most frameworks are free. 

 

Wrapping Up

Again, which one you decide to go with depends on what your ultimate marketing goals are, how big your budget is, and more factors. If you have the means and the employees to handle a mobile-friendly site and an app, why not try both and see if one offers more benefits to your company than the other. You also might find that your team is efficient enough to provide content to each channel, thus increasing brand awareness and reach. Whatever you decide, remember that it’s a very good idea to offer at least one of the two options to your target audience. 

April 29, 2016

Mobile Shopping Poised for Growth in Kenya

 

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Kenyan retailers might not have fully adopted mobile communications to fuel their business activity, but they are embracing it, and technology is on the rise when it comes to their marketing campaigns. A recent Nielson study conducted on Kenyan retailers and their use of technology reveals that mobile usage in the past has been significant. Moreover, companies are slowly turning to mobile marketing concepts.

 

The Study

The Neilson research group conducted face-to-face interviews with 300 retailers across many spectrums and service channels throughout Kenya. The results show that, right now, most retail business is done in the country through direct communication and transactions. In fact, 96 percent of consumers in Kenya prefer to pay retailers with cash, and 88 percent of them prefer in-person communication. They also like to see new products firsthand. 

 

The Promise of the Mobile Market

Even though retail businesses in Kenya today seem to under-utilize mobile technology—just 12 percent of customers use mobile money to pay for goods—Nielson East Africa MD Jacqueline Nyanjom, says, “In a country with 96 percent mobile penetration, the findings are somewhat surprising – but they do point to enormous potential for growth.”

Kenya’s mobile money market is perfect for growth because of how easy it is for people already utilizing mobile technology to make the jump to purchasing goods online. In other parts of the world, mobile money has already been embraced or made great strides. In Kenya, Safaricom’s M-Pesa currently dominates the mobile money market, as small as it is. M-Pesa launched in 2007 and has more than 25-million subscribers, and about 130,000 retail agents use the technology. Countrywide, 43 percent of the Gross National Product flowed through this channel in 2013.

 

The Future of Mobile Shopping

One of the main reasons that Kenyans rely on cash for purchases is that it doesn’t carry transaction fees. Some shoppers and retailers, however, have expressed concern about the safety of using cash for purchases. Aside from fees, there are few reasons not to convert to the use of mobile money in the retail sector. About 25 percent of retail businesses say that they have not been approached with an offer to use mobile money for purchases, a fact that implies that there is an untapped group of business owners in this market.

Additionally, it seems that the time is ripe to encourage both businesses and consumers to accept mobile advertising and marketing as part of the mix. Companies need to focus on adopting retail apps, mobile coupons, promotions, geo-location deals and ads, and other mobile marketing tools in order to bring exciting new growth to the industry.

 

April 24, 2016

The Global Reach of SMS Messaging

 

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SMS has carved out a place as one of the key marketing tools for the modern business. With affordable, effective application for both B2C and B2B marketing, text messaging is also being used as an internal communication method. If there’s one remote communication technology you can be sure everyone has access to, it’s text messaging.

Therein lies the principal appeal of SMS: it’s universality. Not only do people across the globe have access to SMS, the majority of them carry a phone everywhere, which means that access is readily available, often within minutes of a message being sent. Let’s take a look at the reasons why text messaging is the surest way to reach the largest number of people:

 

  1. Global Reach. There are phone carriers in almost every country in the world, and because SMS works on 2G networks (as well as 3G and 4G), it can be used to communicate with an active mobile phone anywhere in the world
  2. Classless. Unlike other mobile technologies such as apps and geo-location, text messaging doesn’t require a smartphone. Indeed, the SMS protocol predates the advent of the smartphone by more than a decade, which meant it was so widespread by the time everyone started carrying miniature computers in their pocket that it was beyond reproach. No phone manufacturer has even considered not including this simple feature on their phones. The smartest smartphone can communicate with any active cell phone built in the last 20 years in two ways: a phone call or a text message. That’s a pretty level playing field for global communication.
  3. More likely to be read. Than any other form of digital communication. Conservative estimates reckon at least 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt, and unlike emails, they won’t get spam filtered or routinely ignored.
  4. It’s economical. Not just in terms of financial cost, but because of the 160 character limit - a major part of the appeal when it comes to actually reading messages - it requires an economy of language that all marketers should be seeking to use anyway. Your brand message will be clear, concise and direct. It has to be!
  5. It’s permission based. Because consent is required, you know your messages won’t form just another part of the digital white noise we’ve all become used to tuning out on a daily basis. Anyone who receives your SMS messages has requested them, making them much more likely to engage.
  6. It plays well with others. SMS messaging works in harmony with other forms of digital marketing, allowing you to create a truly ‘joined up’ mobile marketing campaign. If, for instance, you have details of an upcoming event on your website, SMS messaging is the perfect way to alert customers to it and include a link to the full story. By incorporating SMS messaging into your overall mobile marketing strategy, you will maximize your reach.

April 17, 2016

Mobile Marketing and the Emoji Question

 

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New research indicates that mobile marketing campaigns are increasingly turning to emojis to make their messages pop. Marketing automation company Appboy surveyed close to 9,400 campaigns on Android and iOS platforms, and found emoji usage had increased more than seven-fold year-on-year, as of March 2016. The report found e-commerce marketers and retailers were the most likely businesses to use emojis in mobile marketing campaigns.

Why are mobile marketing managers using emojis? Simply put, it’s because the rest of us do, and it’s seen as an easy way to add some color and individuality to a campaign. With so much activity happening in the world of mobile marketing, it’s highly competitive and volatile; some 800 million users got their first smartphone last year alone. Another 600 million will join them this year.

With such vast numbers, it’s crucial for e-marketers to understand who they’re trying to reach, and with what kind of message. In this context, emojis become one contributing factor to the success of a mobile marketing campaign. Used well, they set the right tone for a brand image. 

 

Using Emojis

So how do you use them in the most effective way? One of the most common mistakes brands make is to use emojis in place of text, where text would communicate more effectively. Emojis should complement your written message, not replace it, so for your first campaign, try incorporating one or two relevant emojis. This will give you a chance to feel out your audience to see if they respond well to emojis. Not everyone does!

Remember too that a constant stream of unhelpful, if fun, messages will result in irritated customers opting out of your contact list or deleting your app. Don’t get over-excited with the new plaything and start barraging your user base. Stick to the mobile marketing strategy of only issuing messages when you have a special offer to promote, or other information that will be of genuine interest. Incorporate emojis into these, rather than trying to build a new mobile marketing campaign around emojis.

A recent BI Intelligence report takes a look at mobile marketing tactics such as emojis. One of the key findings was the importance of marketers leveraging different tactics according to demographic and audience size. It’s vital to respect the personal nature of mobile messaging, and be highly vigilant for over doing it. Emojis are a good example of mobile marketing tactics that can go wrong if misapplied, but work wonders when done right.

April 08, 2016

Samsung Has Launched Its Mobile Wallet in China

 

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Samsung’s mobile wallet is making its way to China, no tunneling required. The international tech firm recently announced Chinese shoppers can now use their smartphones to pay for in-store purchases, and are therefore joining the Asian country’s trillion-dollar mobile wallet market. 

 

Partnership With UnionPay

SamsungPay was launched in partnership With UnionPay, the same bankcard company that helped bring ApplePay to life. UnionPay credit and debit cards are currently the only cards linked with local Samsung phones at this time, with up to 10 cards allowed per device. SamsungPay is available in China on the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and the Galaxy Note 5 smartphones. 

 

Positive Reception

Injong Rhee, EVP and Head of R&D, Software, and Services of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, said the company is pleased to partner with CUP in order to bring SamsungPay to Chinese consumers. Rhee said SamsungPay reception has so far been very positive, and the service has found success in both consumer adoption and availability. 

The EVP also stated that Samsung hopes to make the payment option available to as many Chinese consumers as possible so that “everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy the simplicity, safety and convenience of this mobile payment solution."

 

Participating Institutions

Banking institutions currently participating in SamsungPay include the largest bank in the country, ICBC, as well as China Construction Bank and China Merchants Bank. Other major institutions such as Bank of Communications and Bank of China are said to follow suit. 

 

Additional Phones

In addition to the Samsung phones listed above, the Korean tech giant noted the possibility of adding more devices, including the Galaxy A5, A7, and A9, as they were also tested in public beta. Rooted devices do not support SamsungPay. 

 

The Challenge

China’s mobile wallet industry is quite well established, making Samsung’s foray into the market a challenging one. Local services such as WeChat and AliPay are used for online shopping and transportation services among other things, and are now available for brick-and-mortar store use. Analysts recently remarked that AliPay and WeChat are so ingrained among Chinese consumers that introducing new mobile wallet options will be an “uphill battle.” However, Samsung has previously noted one essential factor working for them: the technology is applicable to a larger number of existing payment terminals. 

 

“Simple and Safe”

Samsung also believes its mobile wallet option will work because it’s “simple, safe, and easy to use,” and that it works “virtually anywhere” in China that allows consumers to swipe or tap their cards. There’s no need to unlock phones or use special apps to access Samsung’s mobile wallet, which makes it arguably more appealing than earlier incarnations requiring these steps, such as Google Wallet. 

The mobile wallet is similar to ApplePay in that it utilizes near field communication technology (NFC). Samsung’s version will also support the magnetic secure transmission technology used on standard credit card machines. 

As of the fourth quarter of last year, Samsung was No. 6 in China’s smartphone market with a 7 percent share compared to Apple’s 15 percent. It will be interesting to see how the new mobile wallet option fares. SamsungPay is currently available in the U.S. and South Korea, and should enter the UK market later this year. 

March 23, 2016

Do Good Week: Maintaining a Positive Company Culture

 

As part of this year's 'Do Good Week' we take a look at how you can inspire and maintain a positive company culture. 

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In order to do well in business, you need to maintain a positive company culture. What is a company culture and how do you create one that positively impacts your business, and therefore your customers? Company culture is a shared set of visions and values for the betterment of the company and those it serves, and it’s a collective effort to uphold those visions and values through every business decision and action.

 

Examples of a Positive Company Culture

A positive company culture is seen in the way leadership communicates with employees, in the enthusiasm employees have when performing their jobs, and in the effectiveness of the company to better the lives of its customers. Companies like The Disney Store have created a positive company culture by taking into consideration all of the above-mentioned points, and companies that are successful in creating a positive culture tend to experience enormous success.

 

The Importance of Positive Company Culture

It’s important that a company’s founder set the tone for a positive culture from day one. His or her visions and values can then be passed on to first-hire leadership, employee teams that are built subsequently, and any vendors or merchants that are representative of the company. It’s crucial that anyone who joins the company, in any capacity, is aware of the positive company culture that has been built and prepared to help maintain it. 

A positive company culture must be practiced and on display at all times in order to keep the business thriving. This means that anyone who is not on board with the culture that the company has created needs to decide to adopt a new attitude or face the consequences. Culture is that dire for a business’ success. 

 

How to Create and Maintain a Positive Company Culture

The culture a company creates for employees, and for customers, will be slightly different from one business to the next because of factors like the nature of business, the business’ target audience, and business location, among others. However, in the end, a positive company culture will be focused on a few things, including clear communication, fair dealing, and the happiness of employees and customers. The following are some goals a business can focus on to create a company culture that benefits management, shareholders, employees, and customers:

 

Recruit the Right People

To create a positive company culture, start with a leadership team that understands and embraces the business’ vision and values, and then make sure everyone who comes on board in any other capacity is clear and accepting of the culture. When you screen employees, hold willingness to uphold your company’s culture as a “must.” This will help your business by getting the right people into your company from day one, which means less turnover later. 

 

Commit to Orientations and Ongoing Training

Make it a requirement that every person who comes to work for your company go through an orientation that specifically addresses the company culture you’ve created. Also, make periodic training classes a requirement so that employees can receive updates to your visions and values (as they might change according to the state of an evolving business) and reminders about your company’s ultimate goals. 

In addition to these methods of maintaining a positive company culture, it’s a good idea to foster company-wide communication at every level, consider recognition and awards programs for those who go above and beyond in upholding your business’ values, and generate an atmosphere of caring in which employees feel connected and comfortable with each other, like a family.