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In Focus: Cashless Environment: The Evolution of Payment Solutions

Fri 16th Jun 2017 | IT & Technology

As technology advances and attitudes towards cash change, more and more venue operators are looking at ways of offering faster, smoother and safer ways of making payments.

fcbusiness speaks to Steve McArdle Business Development Director at Verteda about the changing nature of payment solutions.

Innovation in Payments

fcb: What has been the key driver of change in the payment sector?

SMc: Significantly for the stadia market was the introduction of contactless card payments. This allowed for a quicker payment method than cash for purchases of food and beverage at key times during events, therefore serving more people and increasing spend value by up to 18% compared to cash.

In terms of technology, continued innovation will eventually see cash and card payments replaced altogether, and Verteda have invested in working with partners to support these new dynamics. We’re looking at developing a seamless customer journey to include payment devices and merchant acquiring. The next generation of sports fans will be digital by default, and their mobile devices will be a constant companion

Verteda clients already enjoy a pre-order app with QJacker, and we intend to expand that digital reach across other products whilst creating a point-of-sale (POS) and payment solution that works across key channels.

Why are people moving away from cash payments?

Our clients’ customers carry less cash these days, so the changes have been driven in the wider social environment. People expect convenience and speed of service in all areas of retail and so to upon entering the stadium, therefore we must improve on this dynamic and embrace new technologies as effectively as the retail sector to ensure parity.

However, as a result of this migration away from cash, the hospitality sector has enjoyed significant cost and revenue benefits. Cash pilferages are eliminated, more people are served and the transaction value has increased. Completely cashless environments enjoy a simple end-of-day consolidation, removing the need for back office functionality.

So are we likely to see more stadia going cashless?

It is expected that the first completely cashless stadium in the UK is imminent. Current key performance indicators are exceeding expectations and returned dynamic benefits in the card-v-cash discussion are supporting the transition to completely cashless environments.

The stadia sector has now established itself well with card payments through good communication to its customers, familiarity of devices and ease of use. Some of our clients are now enjoying card payments as high as 60%+ of all transactions, which has also seen improvements in the overall customer experience.

Point of Sale Technology (POS)

How has POS technology advanced?

POS has seen significant advancement in technology recently and, in addition to the customer experience benefits, has opened up a number of operational functionalities such as inventory control and procurement solutions, workforce management and business intelligence.

Verteda can help clients maximise revenues while reaching more customers and improving the guest experience at every step - helping clients make the most of investments in high-capacity wifi and to use mobile technologies to not only engage with fans at the front-line but to optimise business processes and back-office operations.

Would you say speed and efficiency are vital factors at POS?

Absolutely. Our clients have worked tirelessly to develop better products and wider choices and significant investments have been made in infrastructure and wifi connectivity.

All of this has been done with the aim of improving speed and the overall customer experience which is key when ordering and making payment. Clear signage also helps deliver that message, and a Verteda payment terminal at the counter offers customers a familiar retail experience allowing you to serve more customers with more products.

Can a good POS experience improve repeat custom?

The overall experience at sporting and music events has improved greatly, which has bolstered customer expectations. New found client confidence has driven a shift in food and beverage purchases, and seen a migration towards pre-event hospitality rather than en-route.

A good POS experience not only allows for a positive order and payment process, but supports the facility with stock fulfilment and staff management ensuring favourites do not run out and all service areas are manned.

Security and data protection are always a concern, has this improved?

Security has been a key driver with Verteda’s relationship with payment partners. All terminals deployed are PCI compliant and have direct communication with the card issuers to identify fraudulent transactions. This direct connection ensures no information relating to sensitive card information is retained within the POS system.

Innovation in payment processes will continue to deliver a high level of security. Biometrics within the hospitality sector has been fully embraced by Verteda and will lead the market in security and speed of use.

Data To Drive Strategy

The collection of data is vital for clubs to understand their customers. What kind of information can they glean from purchase behaviour?

Verteda data analytics offer a 360 view of our clients’ venue operations and customers. Vision from Verteda drives fact-based decision making to reduce operational costs and wastage, improve service and save time – freeing staff to deliver what matters – an outstanding customer experience.

As the preferred payment method migrates away from cash we have established some key partner relationships within the card acquiring sector allowing our clients to access generalised card data so they can understand purchases and frequencies. This includes inside the event arena along with pre and post event purchases which is a valuable tool to establish a greater understanding of the customer journey.

However, staying successful requires exceptional awareness and visibility of our clients’ business. Vision real-time business intelligence from Verteda exceeds traditional reporting capabilities by delivering dynamic, audience specific information as events happen. This allows the retrospective reporting on a business day or event, or they can watch live and make business decisions on-the-fly to directly impact operational savings or improve the customer experience during an event.

How can this help develop operational strategies?

Operational strategies within this sector can be split into core and non-core events. As many clubs look outside their host sport to facilitate new revenues through new events, so too is the need to understand key buying habits in these new ventures, critical to optimise the return on investment. Spend per head and buying habits differ massively between a football match and say a music concert so our clients need to analyse data to manage peaks and troughs, to ensure speed of service and availability of stock is maintained.

Can the data collected be fed into a club’s CRM system?

Dashboards and reports are delivered via a web-browser, making access to real-time reporting as simple as having an available internet connection. As Vision queries data directly using natural language search technology, network overload is avoided and the systems performance is uncompromised.

Clubs can use out of the box features to build reporting packs – saving time on reporting across sponsors and partners, and end of period reporting for directors. Frequently accessed reports are available to run on a schedule – and Verteda Vision also supports the setting up of alerts and thresholds to inform management of over / underperforming business functions.

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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