May 19, 2020

How can retailers adapt to the wearable payments boom?

MBNA
Bank of America
James Pepper
Technical Services Director at Vista Retail Support
Real GDPR
4 min
How can retailers adapt to the wearable payments boom?

Wearable tech is becoming commonplace. Consumers are synching phones to watches, watches to bank accounts and moving further away from traditional cash and card-based payments.

Payments expert MBNA, a subsidiary of the Bank of America, has produced research into what retailers should be doing to prepare for a wearable payments explosion. 72 percent of consumers believe wearables are the future of in-store shopping, according to a survey from Vista Retail Support .

MBNA wanted to get the low down on how retailers can adapt to this huge change on the horizon. They spoke to Kirstin Smith, Head of Fashion and Retail at Valtech - a digital agency that engineers consumer experiences for businesses, and James Pepper, Technical Services Director at Vista Retail Support - an IT and support organisation for retail businesses. They came up with these seven tips:

1. Track your average basket size

James Pepper says retailers with small average basket sizes should already be providing wearable payments: “If they haven’t got a way of accepting contactless payments and their average basket size is under £30, then they’re very late to that party.”

However, small retailers can take advantage of ‘out of the box’ solutions.

“If you go to your payment processor or acquirer they can lease you a solution. It’s quite a lot simpler than it is for a large retailer who has to implement that infrastructure and trial it.”

2. Consider software that surpasses the contactless transaction cap

70 percent of consumers believe the £30 transaction cap is too low. Apple Pay uses a new type of payment verification on the latest iPhones and Apple watches that allows the cap to be lifted.

A retailer providing payment terminals that are compatible with this technology could put themselves ahead of the competition.

James says: “The consumer desire for higher transaction limits with contactless payments may be something that, crucially, certain wearables can answer. In fact, contactless cards could be completely superseded by wearable technology as a payment method.”

3. Educate customers about wearables

Training staff to educate customers about contactless technology, including wearable payments, is something all retailers serious about incorporating the technology should do. James:

“In the US, when retailer Wholefoods educated their customers on how they were accepting Apple Pay, their mobile payments increased by 400 percent, which, again, can extend to wearables.”

4. It’s about more than just payments

Customers expect a lot from retailers today, from offering a variety of payment methods to providing in-store visual experiences. So it’s also worth identifying how wearables could feed in to the wider retail experience.

Kirstin Smith: “Retailers who find success will have worked hard to understand their end-to-end customer experience and how customers are really behaving. They will then have figured out which parts of that journey could be enhanced by wearables.”

5. Test drive new ideas

Once businesses have nailed their customer experience and figured out which wearables could work for them, Kirstin advises that businesses should start creating low-cost prototypes:

“The way to do this is through a hypothesis-driven, test and learn approach. Crucially, it’s about trying out new ideas with real customers. Smaller retailers have the advantage over big businesses since they can be more agile in their approach. If I were a smaller business, I’d head straight to the buzzing fintech market to see what alternatives exist.”

6. Keep track of trends in retail experience

Look out for key announcements in wearable technology and retail innovation. As James points out, wearable innovation is already changing retail for some businesses:

“There are systems that can identify a customer, pull up their purchase data and push out marketing information to their mobile, which can always be extended to the wrist.”

Devices may also connect to in-store beacons so, as a consumer, you could wander in close proximity to the beacon and gain more information about a product. Or that information could be pushed to you using in-store Wi-Fi.

7. Watch out for the tipping point

Retailers need to be prepared for the point at which consumer and retailer behaviour changes to avoid being left behind.

Kirstin Smith: “I think many retailers will begin with baby steps but as soon as one retailer cracks this, others are sure to follow at speed!”

A full version of these tips can be viewed here: www.mbna.co.uk/blog/wearable-payments-retailers/

Read the July EURO 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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