Craig Mackellar, Head of Pre-Sales EMEA, shares his key take-aways from EuroShop, the biggest retail tradeshow of the year, where all those involved in the industry came together to talk shop.
EuroShop returned in March and it was great to be part of this exciting, international event. There were six massive exhibition halls with hundreds of exhibitors in categories ranging from shop fitting and lighting, to refrigeration and energy management. Ingenico was in Hall 6 – dedicated to retail technology, including all things payment. With only one day to spend at the event, it was quite a whirlwind tour, but a few key trends came to the fore in the field of payments.
More than a Point of Sale
While at previous tradeshows, conversations may have been around payment hardware – how robust is it, how light is it, what’s the battery life like and what’s the processing speed – now the hardware itself is very much seen as a given. Discussions are more around: what can I do with it, what apps have you got that you can provide me with and what can I do with them, and what can I put on the terminal and how easy is it to do that.
Not only does a Point of Sale terminal need to do more than just payment, payment devices are also becoming more niche. For example, a payment terminal in the restaurant sector needs to be able to take orders, accept tips, split bills and make payments. Now there are apps on Ingenico’s Android devices that allow exactly that. As an example, this case study from ITCARD in Poland explains how their business app turned the payment terminal into an ‘all-in-one’ device.
Equally, when you look at retail, which is what we were focusing on at EuroShop, you can see movement towards greater self-service. The payment terminal is a place where the customer can do more, and where the retailer can get more information from the customer. Whether that’s loyalty cards, buy-now-pay-later – it’s got to be capable of doing more than just taking a payment.
From Point of Sale to Point of Trust
Interestingly, while consumers are comfortable making payments on their smartphone, they are not yet comfortable with having payments taken by a smartphone. The Point of Sale device has an emotional benefit of feeling more secure than a standard smartphone or tablet. Businesses would like to get to a position where they can take payments by smartphone or some sort of handheld smart device – and there were many examples of SoftPOS (software which allows merchants to accept payment on a smartphone) on display at EuroShop. However, a payment terminal continues to have a level of trust and security around it that a smartphone doesn’t. There is a transition, gently pulling the terminal towards that more attractive, user-friendly smart device, but still keeping the trust and security that’s within a terminal. A payment terminal has to do things fast, it has to do things seamlessly, but it also has to do things very securely. There must be a balance between innovation and security.
Ingenico has been working to find this balance with its innovative SoftPos solution. The idea is to use smartphones for payment but in a more comforting and reassuring way for the consumer. Stay tuned for more to be announced on this shortly.
The growth of self-service
Self-payment is also becoming much more in demand. Self-service solutions used to be mainly found in inaccessible or remote places. Now we are seeing more and more self-service coming into stores in the form of unattended checkout and self-service kiosks for orders and returns. We are also seeing the development of completely unattended shopping experiences, and there were examples of this on display at EuroShop. Ingenico has a range of self-service solutions and you can find out more about them in this short video.
A digital transition in all areas
Part of the reason for the shift to self-service is of course down to operational efficiencies and cost reduction. But it is also driven by the consumer desire for in-store experiences to be as fast and convenient as online experiences. The demand for a consumer journey that seamlessly flows across all channels, physical and online, is also shaping developments in new retail technology. The exhibition hall was full of examples of how technology can offer new shopping experiences that combine physical retail with online and digital solutions. And not only does omnichannel integration benefit consumers, it can provide the retailer with a lot of new data about customers, and connect workflows such as stock management, fulfilment and Point of Sale. Key for the retailer is having an IT ecosystem in which all devices and payment methods are linked.
What was also interesting to see at EuroShop were some examples of biometrics being used in retail, including facial recognition. Ingenico has recently launched a palm vein authentication solution for payment which is fast, secure and convenient. This is one of the most innovative areas in payments and certainly one that is going to further develop in coming years.
It’s clear that retail is going through an exciting digital transition and if it keeps up with the pace of change of new technology, we’re going to see transformational things to come in the very near future.