Elavon is a leading global provider of card processing services, delivering a robust portfolio of secure and reliable solutions to customers in Europe, North America and Latin America. Elavon supplies end-to-end payment processing to over 1 million merchants worldwide through its relationships with financial institutions, associations, independent Merchant Service Providers and other channel partners.
While Elavon leverages its global reach, unmatched experience, and powerful network to power solutions worldwide, its local presence enables it to deliver exceptional service tailored to your needs. Elavon establishes a relationship that is as unique as your business – one that delivers numerous benefits immediately and over time.
The Grocery Trader – What does your job involve day to day? Has your role changed since last year?
I manage a team of over 200 sales people across our European markets, ensuring we win new customers and grow our business. The business continues to grow, and as a result I am spending more and more time visiting prospects and looking for growth opportunities in Europe.
GT – ‘2011: how was it for you?!’
2011 has been a great year for Elavon, despite the general economic concerns. We have grown our new business by a significant double-digit percentage whilst growing our revenue from our customers by double digits, which in the current environment has been a tremendous performance by all my team.
GT – What is your particular proposition for customers in the multiple grocery sector? Has that changed since last year?
We offer fast settlement of funds to the customer (the merchant, as opposed to the cardholding customer). Because our platform is so reliable, it is much less likely to go down than others. If the system doesn’t work for whatever reason, the merchant can potentially lose a sale, which is bad news for small businesses but is much less likely to happen with our system. We also have a program in place to assist customers with their industry compliance to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. It provides education, support and reminders to help steer them through the annual process. We have local representatives, and a 24x7x365 customer service hotline. We want our customers to be able to get on with thinking about their business, their core competencies, and not have to worry about whether the card payments they take will get processed, we aim to make payment processing as easy as possible for them.
GT – How has the payment processing sector been performing in 2011? What do you see as the most important recent developments?
The payment sector has seen a number of shifts and changes throughout the year; on the acquiring side there have been a number of consolidations within the industry, and in particular the finalisation of the World Pay/RBS transaction. From a technology/innovation viewpoint we have seen a significant increase in the uptake of contactless payments, both from the number of customers that are able to take a contactless payment, and from the issuing side of the business. The other major discussion point is what will mobile payments look like in the future, and when will this happen, which centres around how will we be able to make and take credit and debit card payments using our mobile phones?
GT – Have you moved into any new business areas during 2011?
One of our most significant new business initiatives has been the establishment of a new sales referral channel through both Costco and Booker, which has enabled us to market our solutions to an increased customer base and introduced significant levels of new business.
GT – Has your company grown in the last 12 months?
Absolutely, we have grown our new business by a significant double-digit percentage whilst also growing our revenue from our customers by double digits across all our European markets.
GT – What have you been doing to upgrade your business and customer service proposition in 2011?
One of the key new initiatives we introduced earlier on in the year was the introduction of deliveries of our point of sale terminals using engineers who now install and train our customers. This means they are now online and trading in faster time, and subsequently we have seen an increase in our customer satisfaction measurements.
GT – How are your core products doing?
Our basic debit and credit transactional business has grown in terms of new customers and volume, which has contributed to our overall business growth.
GT – Have you launched any new products or services in 2011? What are they, and how are they performing?
We re-launched our Electronic Gift Card (EGC) solution as Electronic Gift Card Plus and added a new online ordering website (www.elavongiftcard.co.uk). We did this to highlight the ‘Plus’ points of EGC, in that it is so much more than a gift card, it can be used in a variety of ways to help build business and encourage customer loyalty to the customer’s business. For example, it can be used as a loyalty card, a savings card, a pre-paid card and a promotional card.
GT – What’s been your company’s single biggest achievement in business this year?
One of our major achievements has been the growth of our overall team. We have added over 40 new hires to our organisation to help continue our growth strategy, and the success in getting them up to speed and operating effectively has been a big achievement.
GT – What was your personal favourite business moment in 2011?
We were nominated along with HSBC Merchant Services and AIBMS, and the award was given to “the merchant acquirer that made a major change to the industry through expansion, technological advancements, acquisitions or other significant activities.”
The award acknowledged several years of very hard work that it took to bring about the advances that we have been recognised for. Our parent company, U.S. Bancorp, has invested heavily in new technology to facilitate faster and more secure processing for our customers. In Europe we are also reaping the rewards of a strong global value proposition that gives our partners and clients one source for all their payment processing needs. Relationships with banks, associations and third-party distributors that began in one country or region have now expanded; many are now doing business with us in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. But ultimately our success is because our people, processes, products and service are so strong, and because we make payment processing easy for our customers.
GT – If your company had to go through 2011 again, what would you do differently?
We’ve had a great year of growth, but you can always look at things that could be improved. Moving forward one of the things that we are now focusing on is the total customer experience, concentrating specifically on the time it takes for our new customers to be up and trading on our platform.
GT – In which parts of a retail operation do retailers use your products/services?
We provide payment processing solutions for all types of card payments – card present (in-store), mail order/telephone order (MOTO) transactions and also e-commerce, on-line transactions. We also have a solution for contactless payment acceptance, and are about to pilot a new solution for mobile payments which is for trades people who are out and about doing business such as plumbers, electricians, mobile snack bars and anyone else who is not in a static location, which will enable them to take card transactions utilising their mobile phones.
GT – Do you sell your products direct or through channel partners? Has that strategy changed in the last year?
We are a predominantly channel focused organisation, so we partner with many organisations in the markets we operate in, for example banking alliance channels where we are the acquiring partner of a bank, with referral organisations like Costco, Booker and Rural Shops Alliance and with third party Merchant Service Providers – independent sales organisations – that sell our capability to the end user.
GT – Can you name any of your major retail projects in the last 12 months, and talk about what you have done in each of these?
We introduced a contactless card reader to our range of card processing terminals, in order to provide our customers with the opportunity to offer this form of payment acceptance to their customers. Wherever, however, people want to pay with card, Elavon has a solution to make accepting card payments easy for the retailer.
GT – How does your forward order book compare with a year ago? How does demand for your services compare with a year ago?
We will be finishing this year in a stronger position than we started it. As we continue to grow for next year we will start from a strong backlog from the previous year. We have grown, and our overall demand for our solutions has remained strong for the markets we serve in Europe, of which the UK remains the largest.
GT – Which trade shows or conferences did you take part in during 2011? How were they?
This year we attended several small highly targeted events organised by specific trade associations, such as the Irish Hairdressers Federation and the British Florist Association. The only major exhibition we attended in 2011 was The Restaurant Show, but we have already booked to attend Retail Business Technology Expo/Cards and Payment Solutions Exhibition at Earls Court next March.
GT – As the Christmas period is traditionally the busiest time of year for the UK retail industry, what challenges has your company been facing?
Our main challenge is an economic one, so whilst we see the growth in our main business, clearly the success and growth of our customers in the current economical environment remains challenging.
GT – As a company, what are your new year’s resolutions for 2012?
Apart from the normal growth targets, our real key focus for 2012 will be getting closer to our customers, in that it is critical that we understand what our customers need from us and deliver that in the form of customer service improvement for our organisation. The customer must remain in the forefront of our thoughts and processes.
GT – What are your plans for 2012?
Europe remains a major focus for Elavon, and particularly in the UK we plan to increase our market penetration in the various sectors, whether that may be the smallest customers or the larger retailers.
GT – Where do you see your company in three years’ time?
My vision for Elavon is that we will continue to grow our European footprint both in terms of revenue and market share, and ultimately become the number one acquiring business in Europe.
GT – And finally, what would you like Father Christmas to bring your company in 2012?!
Success and happiness for all my employees and customers, and it would be great if he could help my team Northampton Saints win the Rugby Premiership!
Elavon Merchant Services to make an enquiry call 0845 850 0195