Retail Beacons: Location is Everything

Beacons

In today’s highly connected world, privacy is becoming a more precious and rare commodity. Between social media and mobile connectivity, the lines between the personal and public spheres are blurring, and now people are reachable and information is accessible virtually anywhere at any time. As a result, there is mounting concern about data exposure and accessibility, particularly in the realm of retail. Consumers are worried about merchants’ efforts to extract and store data about their customers, and the increase in retail data breaches has not positively impacted their sense of security.

Matters of data security and transparency have been further pushed to the fore with the advent and implementation of beacon technology. Venture Beat explains beacons as battery-powered sensors that use BLE technology to detect the location of a Bluetooth enabled mobile device and then transmit messages or prompts to the devices, often through the use of an associated mobile application.

Even though most Americans already use mobile devices in store for research and showrooming purposes, as reported by Business Insider, consumers are wary of this technology that can tap into their phones – and ultimately their pockets. The question then is whether beacons are as invasive as consumers believe?

Read more on the Retail Merchandiser Blog.

2014: A Look Back at the Year in Payment Tech

 

Looking back at 2014

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the important trends and technologies in the world of payments.  There have been a number of big stories; however it’s important not to equate media hype with true impact.   So I thought I would take a closer look at one of the most heavily discussed topics of 2014, as well as what I consider the most impactful but underreported development of the year.

The Big Story: Apple Pay

Since its announcement at Apple’s September 9, 2014 iPhone 6 event, Apple Pay has dominated payments news coverage across both mainstream and trade media.  And without a doubt, it has triggered an in-store payments movement that for a long time had been thought DOA.  However, the media hype surrounding the service has far exceeded its actual impact on the payments industry.

First of all, Apple Pay only functions on Apple devices, immediately limiting its potential influence.  Secondly, it is a niche application even among those who have it; a recent InfoScout survey revealed that on Black Friday, only 4.6 percent of iPhone 6 and 6+ owners used Apple Pay to make their purchases.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Apple Pay is simply a more convenient method of in-store payment; it doesn’t change the payment experience itself in any radical way.

None of this is to say that Apple Pay is not a great service; but Apple is not a payments company.  Most would agree that the company has expressed no interest in becoming, for example, a competitor to PayPal.  In my opinion, with Apple Pay, the company just wants to be a technology facilitator, leveraging existing infrastructure to provide a better customer experience.

The Underreported Story: Alternative global payment methods

Amidst the media buzz about Apple Pay, a lot of people are missing what I consider to be the year’s most important trend: the proliferation of payment methods outside the Western world.  China’s AliPay is the most obvious example; this year’s $9 billion Singles’ Day sales windfall alone should convince retailers that it’s in their best interest to accept cross-border payments via AliPay.

But it doesn’t end with China.  Yandex is a massively popular e-wallet solution in Russia. Brazil has a number of different payment options, including Boleto and MercadoPago.  Sweden has Klarna.  And it goes on and on.  Abundant growth opportunities exist for retailers who make the effort to understand and accept the preferred payment methods of the international community.

The bottom line is that this is not a ‘one winner takes all’ industry, and there is literally an entire world of payments options out there just waiting for cross-border retailers to take advantage of them.

Case Study: Low-cost flight search engine optimizes payment performance

Skypicker

Skypicker is a flight search engine that provides an intuitive user interface for finding low-cost flights to destinations worldwide. The company prides itself on its simple and user-friendly website, where users can search for flights using an interactive flight map and minimalist interface. Skypicker filters through flights on all major budget airlines to oer the cheapest flight options, facilitates flight searches within a wide range of dates and geographical locations, and shows users all possible flight combinations to broaden their selection of travel itineraries.

THE CHALLENGE

Skypicker attracts a wide international audience of travelers, and as such requires the ability to accept payments from users worldwide. In order to process their large transaction volumes, Skypicker partnered with a payment gateway, but quickly began struggling with the entry barriers to accepting payments. They began integration with the gateway and faced endless amounts of approval paperwork to complete the lengthy integration, with no guarantee that the acquirer eventually would approve their service. “The integration paperwork and process was demanding so much of our valuable time and resources, while we received almost no support from our payments service,” explained Oliver Dlouhy, Skypicker CEO. Beyond the frustrating integration challenges and lack of responsiveness, in order to maintain their payment solution Skypicker was bound by high transaction fees. Serving travelers worldwide, Skypicker needed a payment solution that could accommodate numerous currencies and accept payments from different countries.

The expense of facilitating such transactions along with the complicated integration, prompted Skypicker to search for a payment solution that could provide a quick integration, better processing rates, more responsive support, and, most importantly, the flexibility to make changes to the payment offering to accommodate the company’s growth.

After exploring a number of payment service options, Skypicker discovered Zooz and were attracted to Zooz’s connectivity to multiple acquirers and ability to easily facilitate merchant integrations with new acquirers and payment methods. Zooz’s customizable solution “has the sophistication and the scale to see us through to the future,” said Oliver Dlouhy.

OPTIMAL INTEGRATION

To initiate the integration, Zooz opened Skypicker’s account on the Zooz portal and sent them their company credentials for the portal as well as all the necessary SDKs and APIs for the integration. Zooz managed all the processor integration paperwork for Skypicker, requesting minimal documentation required for Zooz to complete the integration for Skypicker.

Only two months from the time Skypicker spoke to a Zooz account manager to inquire about Zooz, they went live and were able to start accepting payments online. Zooz facilitated Skypicker’s integration with the local European processor Be2Bill, which quickly approved Skypicker for a merchant account and enabled them to process for fees significantly lower than their previous processor’s.

Skypicker finished integrating and testing the payment technology and, shortly after going live, they implemented Zooz’s Smart Routing solution, which quickly optimized their payment performance even further. Skypicker’s processing expenses were reduced considerably when they integrated a second processor, Credorax, to process all non-Euro transactions. By routing Euro transactions through Be2Bill and payments in all other currencies through Credorax, Skypicker was able to save 45% of their transaction costs, in addition to their 19% rise in conversions. Additionally, having acquirer redundancy enabled Skypicker to reroute all their transactions when one of their processors experienced downtime. Instead of losing revenues because one processor could not enable transactions’ completion, Zooz rerouted all Skypicker’s payments through their other processor, to maintain processing proficiency.

INCREASING PAYMENT EFFICIENCY

Skypicker has also gained Zooz’s security technology and level 1 PCI compliance, enabling them to store, protect, and reference user data more quickly in order to streamline the user checkout process, and maintain their comfortable user experience. Oliver Dlouhy said, “Zooz has allowed us to do more with our payments, more efficiently and with better results.” Since integrating with Zooz, the company’s processing volume has risen 1269%. Beyond the rise in profits, Skypicker has regained the time they had been dedicating to handling their payments and have been able to refocus those resources into managing their business, growing their client-base, and entering new markets. With the flexibility and expertise they gained from Zooz, Skypicker can easily add new currencies, languages, payment methods, and acquirers as they grow and their needs change, without having to worry about the hassle of complicated integrations.

Image Credit: Ryan McGuire