The next 12 months will be a crucial period for retailers. With physical stores closed for so long, reopening will almost feel like starting from scratch with the lockdown transforming consumer habits.
Yet such a challenge can bring opportunities, with online-only shopping now giving retailers an extra dimension. By joining up the data from multiple channels like online, mobile and physical retail, they can find greater efficiencies and experience growth and a smarter way of operating.
That smarter way of operating is something payment processing giant Worldpay is well placed to deliver. With significant investment in its Irish operations, it has a brand new team and a new office in Dublin. Its current recruitment drive means it’s all systems go for the payment processing company.
A key factor behind its success globally is its ability to join up different data points easily and present them in an easy-to-understand manner.
This is one of the major ways Garrett Clifford, general manager Ireland of Worldpay from FIS, sees it supporting Irish businesses of all shapes and sizes both now and well into the future.
“Some of the challenges for retailers are: who do you go to, how do you put all of these pieces together and make sure it’s seamless, and that you understand the data behind these channels?” he said.
A key strength of Worldpay Ireland is its ability to provide all aspects of payments such as order management, cashflow, integration and security. Having everything under one roof is now crucial as consumer habits have changed substantially, and having multiple vendors handing each segment only creates friction.
While shopping online is the preferred method, a recent report from FIS found that 91 per cent of those who use websites as their main shopping channel do so because it’s the most convenient option and the same holds true for in-store and other channels.
In fact, convenience is driving consumer behaviour across all retail categories. This is where Clifford and his team bring an extra level of expertise, using the depth and breadth of Worldpay’s data to give significant insights that help business operate in an ever-competitive environment. Key to its success is the simplicity it brings to activation, operation and presentation of complex information.
“We provide various data sources across multiple channels, but we make that data easy to use and understand,” he said. “It allows businesses to look at how they can operate more efficiently, whether that’s through staff rotation or new locations.
“This data can give them so much information and the key is how simple can we make it, how readily available it is, and can customers benefit from that.”
Being able to delve into the data allows you to do more than just figure out general trends; you can also pinpointing specific ways consumer habits have changed.
As physical stores have been closed for so long, their relationship with consumers may have faded. But the clever use of data can help not just rekindle this, but make it stronger than ever.
That can mean several things. For example a retailer can offer greater flexibility for returns – buy online, return in-store or vice versa – which is a crucial factor for consumers. The same report from FIS found that 56 per cent of respondents say a simple cancellation and refund service is a top factor in increasing brand loyalty.
Also, 37 per cent of all respondents said they wouldn’t shop with a retailer again if they faced problems returning a product.
If you have a multi-channel return policy, you can help customise the channels in order to remove friction from the experience and use the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell.
Clifford mentions that the best type of marketing is when you hit upon something important or valid to consumers at that particular time. If it resonates with them, you’ll get a better response and drive more sales.
“This single view of the customer is absolutely key and having your payment channels coming from a single source allows you to have that,” he said.
“If you have multiple suppliers, you’re getting different data sets from them and you’ll never have a single view. Tying all of that together and taking a meaningful message from that becomes very difficult.”
Overall, the store environment will change substantially and will require retailers to operate in a more savvy way. Stores may have to reinvent part or all of their service to become places to experience the brand. This can be done through the use of AI, personalised selling, or even setting up as places for brand collaboration.
The retailers most likely to succeed are those which can create meaningful relationships with consumers across all channels to create whole new ways of shopping.
Getting the right information to retailers so they fully understand what their customers have been doing, how to encourage them to return, and how to get that message out to them will be the order of the day for Worldpay Ireland.
“It’s going to be a big change for consumers and a massive change for retailers,” Clifford said. “The data around this is crucial and that’s where our strengths come in.”
“Consumers are going to drive those changes, and it’s down to retailers to adapt to that and adapt quickly.”