I like to watch. I often get called out for observing and/or eavesdropping, but I can’t help the fascination that goes with studying what people are doing. Why they behave the way they do and even more so, what drives their choices? We think we figure out the silver bullet to get us to that next level and then find ourselves right back in the same place wondering why? Or even what? Why do consumers shop in-store and then purchase online? What is driving consumers to certain items? Is it the price? Is it the free shipping or in-store pick-up? Is it the environment? Is it the accessibility and ease of ordering, or does it all just boil down to psychology? Or have we desensitized ourselves to just look at goods as commodities and then look for the best price?
Some would argue that payments are a commodity. You have your processing, your credit/debit and your terminal. Is it fast? Sure. Does it take payment? Sure. But what happens when you go beyond the payment?
A few weeks ago I was getting takeout and ran into the bar for pick-up and started to look around (see paragraph one–observer). Inventory analysis: Point of Sale (POS) terminal at the hostess stand, POS terminal back-of-house (BOH) for order entry at two stations, POS terminal at the bar AND what in the world…five different tablets on stands? This was a busy restaurant, and not only were the bartenders responsible for the drinks for in-restaurant diners, but they were also responsible for take-out orders made via phone and on the five different order ahead apps that were running standalone on each tablet. But why? This wasn’t integrated into the kitchen display system or the POS. This was a manual process that lived on its own dedicated terminal, a confusing and cumbersome process at best. Not to mention they weren’t going to win any Michelin awards for ambiance and décor. With further exploration, the same flaws were found to exist in several retail environments as well. Diverse and expensive payment environments with mixed terminal sets and different kernels that require weeks of development time for certifications and integrations, and at the end of the day, still live in individual silos. Not integrated. Not streamlined. And not visually cohesive for today’s retail space or the retail world of tomorrow.
So where does that leave us? Let’s take a step back and look at the needs versus the end results.
- customers to have one experience whether online or in-store
- customers to be able to pay the way they want to pay
- to enable a frictionless and fast checkout without interruption or slow down
- to know they are protected from a breach
- secure payment methods with sensitive data removed from the POS
- to ease the burden of PCI compliance and other regulations and certifications
- to manage their devices remotely and push out updates as needed
- EMV certified devices
- seamless integrations to their POS
- to be able to host multiple software applications from one device
With this said, we must ask ourselves, are payments actually a commodity? While they may be “presented” as equal, there is more. We recently launched a Customer Experience Center in our Alpharetta, Georgia and Toronto, Canada offices to show clients and partners where we are heading and give them a glimpse into the next generation of payments. We talk through their plans and long-term strategies, review those goals and strategic initiatives, and where Verifone fits in through a presentation, which spans from products, services, Verifone Cloud Services, and payment-as-a-service solutions like Verifone Flex, Verifone Direct, FIPay or RTS at a high level or as granular as needed. From there we review VHQ and Verifone Connect (if applicable) and then offer demos on our Engage and Carbon devices. And to this point, we may have touched on the commodity range, but from here is where we go beyond payments.