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Apr 15, 2016
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NAMA OneShow Learnings: Consumers Want to Connect with Retailers on More than Just Payments

Mave Duska

Maeve Duska

This guest piece was written by Emily F. Porro

As the benefits of cashless payments continue to drive adoption within the self- serve and unattended retail markets, moving “beyond the transaction” was a key discussion point during the NAMA OneShow this week.

USA Technologies (USAT) has gleaned data from its Knowledge Base proving the benefits of deploying cashless technology, such as a 32 percent higher average ticket price, and Maeve Duska, senior vice president of marketing at USAT, who also noted during her LearningLab presentation on Wednesday that consumers are already looking beyond the cashless payment, and the industry needs to keep up the pace.

Consumers don’t want you to just accept cashless payments, that’s a foregone conclusion, they want rewards, connection, information and to feel heard by being able to offer feedback and suggestions electronically.

Some key industry leaders presenting at NAMA agree that creating a solid loyalty program can go a long way in building these relationships. Seventy-seven percent of smartphone users said mobile offers, such as surprise points or rewards, exclusive content and special birthday messaging, have positive or very positive impact on brand loyalty, according Vibes’ 2016 Mobile Consumer Report. “Brick-and-mortar retailers and product/service brands have been enticing consumers for years with rewards for choosing to do business with them,” Ms. Duska continued.

Paresh Patel, president and CEO of PayRange, emphasized the importance of loyalty programs in his presentation on Wednesday, Dr. K’s What’s Trending in Vending, Micro Markets & Refreshment Services, saying, “Showing customers you are taking care of them builds affinity and goodwill. Loyalty and rewards is one of the ways for consumers to connect with vending company.”

According to data by technologyadvice.com, more than 82 percent of consumers said they were more likely to shop at stores that offer a loyalty program. USAT offers owners and operators access to it’s MORE™ Loyalty Program, which is helping customers establish meaningful connections with consumers in ways that build brand loyalty, create return customers and drive recurring sales.

Changing consumer expectations are being driven by a growing addiction among consumers to the convenience and immediacy of interactive smartphone technology, Ms. Duska stated.

“We’re all smartphone addicted, and everything has to have a screen,” said Ms. Duska. ”It’s what we seek out, we’re used to making purchase with them and are looking for more, such as product and nutritional information, reviews, targeted advertising and celebrity endorsements.”

Mr. Patel echoed these sentiments during his presentation as well, noting smartphones which had once been our link to the virtual world, through Uber, Amazon and even mobile markets are now reaching into the physical world. “This is the space we fall into – we’re a physical piece. I’d argue next phase is pushing how we integrate mobile and tech with physical world.”

Millennials entering the workforce are further pushing transactions beyond point of sale, challenging retailers and reshaping a retail experience in new ways. “Millennials are a complicated group that favors connection with brands and retailers, however prefers not to speak with them,” continued Ms. Duska. “It’s a paradox that favors self-service retail, but you have got to figure out the engagement piece, and it has to be based on technology.”

As retailers look to meet these needs, today at the NAMA OneShow, USAT unveiled ePort® Interactive, which USAT touts as one of the industry’s most advanced cloud-based interactive media and content delivery management systems.

Michael K. Lawlor, chief services officer, USA Technologies, noted in the company press release, “The ePort Interactive platform enables customers to engage with consumers through loyalty programs and on-screen functionality, providing a superior customer experience through instant refunds, nutritional information, multi-media marketing campaigns and feedback capabilities, through an interactive, touchscreen interface.” Additionally, CPG companies and retailers now have the ability to impact consumer behavior in real time – at the point of sale – truly ushering in the next generation of technology for the unattended retail market.

USAT expects that the new features will also help grow customer loyalty and drive recurring sales via coupons, digital advertising and rewards, to engage consumers in real time at point-of-sale, encouraging repeat visits and incremental sales.

“By embracing the new, emerging expectations of consumers and offering platforms that make them feel heard, valued and important, you have a good chance of keeping that customer for life,” closed Ms. Duska.

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Emily F. Porro is a writer and blogger focusing on people, products, services and technology driving global innovation across industries.

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