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The year of transformative retail

Today, online and offline shopping are becoming increasingly aligned in a way that benefits consumers and the industry alike

By Alexander Hahn

Through fiber broadband, 5G and the ubiquity of the smartphone, the technology infrastructure has finally hit the speeds required for a seamless shopping experience. Today, online and offline shopping are becoming increasingly aligned in a way that benefits consumers and the industry alike. 2020 is set to be a truly transformative time for retail.

Embracing technology

As highlighted by the recent study we carried out with research agency Vanson Bourne, the majority of consumers today are ready and waiting for next-generation technology to improve their shopping experience. For example, over two thirds (68%) of consumers said they would be interested in using biometric data to purchase products in-store, and three in five (58%) identified mobile payments as being the most important shopping-related technology to improve their buying experience. These technologies are no longer seen as gimmicks or the domain of early adopters, yet many retailers are failing to listen to their customers and keep up with their morphing demands.

There is no doubt that convenience is king in shopping as it is in society in general. Whether it is using apps to purchase products via self-checkout, a smart mirror to create entire outfits in-store or the use of VR to “try on” items of clothing before buying them, consumers are increasingly demanding new technologies that place convenience at the core of the shopping experience.

Conversely, a lack of technological integration can be a big barrier for today’s consumers. Almost half (44%) of those we spoke to said that if a physical retail store didn’t offer ways to purchase using their mobile phone, they’d be less likely to shop there.

Source: Wirecard


Wirecard on the road

This weekend, Wirecard will be exhibiting at EuroShop in Dusseldorf, the world's leading trade fair for the retail sector. There, we are teaming up with SES-imagotag to showcase our innovative solutions for connectivity, augmented reality (AR), digital payment methods, electronic price tags, IoT, cloud computing and security. We follow this, in March, where we will be at Internet World Expo in Munich.

These shows will be an interesting litmus test of whether retailers are finally delivering what customers want regarding greater integration of technology. The research Wirecard and others have undertaken provide a very clear picture: there is a growing appetite for technologies such as augmented reality, voice-assisted shopping, and cashier-less stores.

The bleeding edge of retail

One of the most exciting things about working for Wirecard is that we continually find ourselves at the bleeding edge of retail, working with companies doing some truly transformative things. The past 12 months have been no exception. Last week we announced how our payment technology is powering a mobile payment solution at Munich Airport that gives its 48 million annual passengers a fast, seamless and digital shopping experience. By allowing passengers to quickly pay for items with their own smartphone directly at the shelf using an electronic price tag, it bypasses the need to wait in line at the checkout when they are rushing to catch a flight. Importantly, instead of paying via an app, the passenger pays via a mobile website, meaning they do not need to download an app beforehand.

We have also been working with Freiraum, which describes itself as a shopping Neverland, in-between the online and offline worlds. Its Berlin store features an eclectic and ever-changing mix of young and vibrant boutique brands. In-store, consumers have a completely frictionless shopping experience thanks to Wirecard. All they have to do to buy is to scan a QR code on the product’s tag via a dedicated app. Because payment is automatically linked, the customer can simply present the payment screen to a staff member and walk out of the door with their goods.

Another new retail customer of note for us is HEYTEA, China’s most popular tea brand. To help it keep pace with digital transformation, Wirecard is providing seamless payment solutions to customers in all stores in Singapore and Hong Kong via HEYTEA GO. The newly launched mobile app allows users to skip queues by ordering and paying online before visiting the store. It is a truly integrated process with the app showing estimated wait times and sending a push notification to the customer when their drinks are ready for collection. It is proving immensely popular: HEYTEA GO already has a registered user base of more than 10 million customers and generates half of the total orders, with the average monthly re-purchasing rate tripling.

Source: HEYTEA

Keep talking

It will be interesting to see what new technologies get delegates talking at EuroShop and Internet World Expo. It could very much be one that has got us all talking in our own homes if the results of our survey are anything to go by. Will voice-assisted shopping finally gain the attention it deserves in the retail world? Despite often being dismissed as a gimmick, almost three in five (57%) respondents agreed that using voice-assisted devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home Hub would make shopping easier. 44% even agreed that they would trust voice-assisted payments to do their weekly shop. Voice-assisted shopping, therefore, may not be as far-fetched or as far-off as you might think. We’re looking forward to seeing the next retail trends – stay tuned for our EuroShop recap blog post next week.

Stop by and say hi at EuroShop! The “Smart Checkout - Tap, Pay, Enjoy” solution as seen in Munich Airport can be tested at our joint stand with SES-imagotag in Hall 6/ A27, A31, A41 at the EuroShop trade fair in Düsseldorf from 16 to 20 February 2020.

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