Blurring the boundaries between physical and digital commerce: How independent merchants can drive traffic to their storesJanuary 14, 2019
Through the selling of prepaid cards via a mobile device, independent merchants can drive traffic to their stores, increase loyalty among their customers and level the playing field with their larger competitors
BY SEAN C. TARRY
IT’S often hard these days to keep up with speed at which technologies are developed. In fact, it can be
downright mind-boggling. And for smaller, independent retailers with fewer resources to draw from than
their larger competitors, understanding which technological solutions to invest in can be daunting.
Fortunately, aided largely by the digitization of the world around us, there are more and more technologies being developed, like InComm Canada’s suite of mobile solutions, that take the guesswork out of
investment for merchants. The company’s portfolio of digital technologies can allow consumers to use
their mobile devices as gift card and prepaid payment tools and provides the opportunity for merchants
to capitalize on digital promotions that drive traffic to their stores and increase loyalty among consumers.
Canadian Retailer magazine recently sat down with InComm Canada’s General Manager, Felipe
Papaleo, to discuss the benefits of these digital technologies and the ways they can benefit businesses
Canadian Retailer: In this digital age, how important is it for retailers to leverage technologies that can help them drive traffic to their stores and loyalty among their customers?
Felipe Papaleo: It’s hugely important. Ensuring the consumer’s buying experience is seamless between the physical and digital worlds is one of the biggest challenges retailers are facing. Every retailer is trying to keep up with the increased demands and expectations of today’s digital consumer who moves fluidly through the digital and physical worlds without making a conscious distinction between them. They value their money and are willing to pay for goods and services, provided what they purchase meets their needs and expectations. And because today’s digital consumer is more engaged and socially aware than any other that’s come before, delivering on the promise made to win their share of wallet is critical. Therefore, the in-store experience needs to be personal. And marketing messages need to be customized, providing relevant content in the form of offers, news and promotions to meet their immediate needs, incentivizing them to visit stores. Ensuring that in-store promotions are linked to digital offerings and content is one of the main traffic drivers today.
CR: Tell me about InComm Canada’s digital prepaid gift card app and how it can benefit merchants who invest in the technology.
FP: InComm is investing in technologies that will blur the boundaries between physical and digital commerce, making the online and offline purchasing experiences meaningful and seamless. Merchants would simply need to download our mobile POS app and select from a number of plans. Immediately, the merchant will have access to a number of titles available for sale via code-to-content delivery, where no physical cards are present. The app allows the merchant to participate in geotargeted promotions and provides them with access to a summary report of purchases. By enabling mobile devices to become payment and promotional engines, agnostic of hardware, InComm is breaking the technological limitations that so often prevent innovation at the point-of-sale. Similarly, by investing in in-store promotions linked to digital platforms for incentives and loyalty, as well as cross promotions, we are enabling physical retail locations, big or small, to play in the digital space with minimal or no IT investment at all.
CR: Aside from the obvious benefits of driving traffic to the physical store, how can InComm’s technologies help independent merchants level the playing field with their larger competitors?
FP: The data that can be gleaned from this technology is immense for independent merchants when it comes to leveling the playing field and growing their businesses. Specific to retailers, foot traffic and basket analysis are particular data points that if correctly captured and properly interpreted can be critically important sources of intelligence to drive initiatives that can influence consumer behaviour. By offering technologies that can be used to leverage the power of prepaid gift cards to drive promotions and then capture sales that result from such initiatives, InComm is empowering retailers of all sizes to clearly understand behavioural data that is meaningful to them, be it a chain of many corporate stores, a pool of franchisee locations or an independent business owner. Such data can then be used to identify and understand trends to develop meaningful and personal content that will result in driving traffic back to the store.
CR: In your estimation, what is the future of prepaid gift cards?
FP: The prepaid gift card industry, pioneered by InComm 25 years ago, outgrew its origins of being a simple activation technology to become a global transaction and payments network deeply rooted in its retail footprint. The prepaid functionality commonly linked to gift cards is expanding to include uses as diverse as financial inclusion, financial services, expense control, disbursements, loyalty applications, toll & transit enablement, and many more. In such a broad environment, prepaid cards will continue to grow their significance, expand and adapt to the everchanging payments landscape in Canada and globally, remaining true to their original commitment: driving traffic to retail.