Chris Davies, Managing Director, Global Payments


The omni-channel or multi-channel world presents both challenges and opportunities for the grocery trade. Retailers are now expected to maintain an online presence, and customers want to be able to make their purchases when they want, where they want and how they want. Delivering this successfully doesn’t come cheap.

However, for retailers who can connect the dots between their online and in-store offerings, a world of opportunity presents itself. How customers pay for things could well be critical to this.

The structural shift to online shopping and the growth of ‘click and collect’ shows the growing integration of the mobile, online and in-store channels.

Online spending exceeded £100 billion for the first time in 2014 as consumers increasingly shopped on smartphones and tablets. The internet makes up almost a quarter of all retail sales, according to the consultants CapGemini. The ubiquity of personal technology, and a growing confidence that retailers will deliver on time, in part drove this growth.

Against this backdrop, all evidence points to a behavioural shift in the way consumers pay for things, with cash usage decreasing as plastic gains in both big ticket and everyday items.

The Payments Council estimates that the number of cash payments will fall from 21 billion in 2012 to around 14 billion in 2022, as people switch to alternative payment methods such as cards and automated payments.

The shift to e-commerce is playing a significant role in the growth of e-payments and use of cards. This is exciting news for retailers because, unlike cash, which is anonymous, electronic payments allow them to capture details about their customers. Twinned with information about their purchase history and preferences, this enables them to build a powerful marketing strategy.

And as mobile payment technology evolves, the opportunity for grocers will grow even more as new features are added such as personalised emailing to customers and integrated loyalty systems. For example, near field communication (NFC) enabled phones can be integrated with loyalty applications, allowing retailers to capture individual customer’s purchase histories and preferences and design targeted offers and advertising.

The move to electronic, card and mobile payments will create tremendous marketing and sales opportunities for grocers. They will be able to build a clear picture of each customer’s spending habits, helping them to target individuals with bespoke offers. Not only will this boost turnover, but it will increase speed of purchase, tackle fraud and enhance the overall customer experience.

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