Archive for December 2016

Where do SMEs often fail when importing and exporting?

Source http://www.companybug.com/where-do-smes-often-fail-when-importing-and-exporting/

Branching out into imports and exports can be extremely lucrative. However, it can also present numerous complications. Without adequate planning, research and preparation, you could end up losing money, breaking the law and in turn potentially even lose your business.

To avoid falling victim to the pitfalls of importing and exporting, below you’ll discover the most important things to consider.

You may have to spend money to make money

When importing manufactured goods, you’ll often find that suppliers want an upfront payment before they’re willing to ship your items. The customer may not pay until they receive their goods or they may require a certain amount of time to pay it off. Therefore, you’re going to need to have a good amount of short-term funding to bridge the gap between payments.

If you don’t have cash saved up, you’re going to need to have a line of credit open you can use to tide you over when needed.

Restrictions on exporting

One of the most important things you need to do before delving into the world of exports is to research the restrictions which may apply. Different countries have varying restrictions on the goods they will and won’t accept. So, if you’re thinking of exporting to China for example, you’ll need to be aware of the goods that are currently banned from being exported there.

You may also need an exporting license depending upon the type of goods you’re shipping. You can find out more about whether your business will require a license on the Gov.uk website.

Problems with shipping

Whether you’re importing or exporting, the main problems you’re likely to run into involve shipping. Delays, missing shipments and damaged items are a high risk. Customers these days want a shipping service they can rely on. When they order something, they expect it to arrive quickly and in perfect condition.

Obviously the longer the goods must travel, the more issues that can arise. Some shipping issues are to be expected, but you can limit the likelihood of experiencing frequent problems by choosing a well-known, reliable and respected international courier.

Lack of demand

As mentioned earlier, you’re going to have to research thoroughly before dealing with importing and exporting. Researching the market is particularly important to ensure there’s enough of a demand for the products you’re shipping. A great way to keep track of what’s being favoured in the investment markets right now is by keeping up with the Forex market. Services provided by the likes of FxPro, for example, provides up-to-date information on the leading trade markets.

Overall, it’s important to get as much information as possible before deciding whether importing and exporting is right for your business. If you take the time to research everything there is to know, you’ll avoid running into potentially costly problems.

Read More

Persons with Significant Control

Source http://sladecooper.co.uk/persons-significant-control/

From 6th April 2016 UK companies need to keep a register of Persons with Significant Control (PSCs) – and this applies to charities too. Broadly speaking, a PSC is someone who holds more than 25% of the shares or voting rights. So, for example, a charitable company with three trustees, in which the only guarantee members of the company are the trustees, must inclue all three trustees on the PSC register. If it has four trustees who are guarantee members, then none need be included on the register.

However, if a person has 25% or less of the formal voting rights, but nevertheless exercises “significant influence or control”, then they should be included on the register. This may be the case, for example, with a charismatic founder.

Non-companies are excluded from the regime, including:

  • registered societies
  • charitable incorporated organisations
  • unincorporated charities
  • charities incorporated by royal charter

What you need to do:

  • identify your PSCs
  • include them on the register (in practice a piece of paper in your statutory books)
  • include them on your Companies House Annual return next time you fill it in

The post Persons with Significant Control appeared first on Slade & Cooper.

Read More

News story: New Year Honours 2017: education, children’s services, equalities

Source https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-year-honours-2017-education-childrens-services-equalities

The New Year 2017 Honours list published on Friday 30 December 2016 recognises over 120 people for their contribution to education or children’s services, and those who have made a difference to equality and diversity.

The list of award recipients covers all phases of education in schools, colleges and universities. It also covers people who have contributed in an outstanding way to children’s services, such as foster carers, children’s social workers, and those working in adoption and in early years settings.

Jonathan Slater, Department for Education Permanent Secretary, said:

I would like to congratulate all of the award winners in the New Year Honours List. Their outstanding work is improving the lives of children and young people through excellent care and education, and promoting women’s and LGB&T equality as well as diversity more widely.

If you know someone working in education or children’s services or making a significant impact in advancing equality for women and the LGB&T community who deserves an honour, please contact us at: Honours.team@education.gov.uk.

Companion of Honour

Award Title and name Short citation
CH Baroness Mary Warnock For services to charity and the education of children with special educational needs

Knight (Kt) / Dame (DBE)

Award Title and name Short citation
DBE Dame Vera Baird Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner. For services to women and equality
DBE Dame Helen Fraser Lately, Chief Executive, the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST). For services to education

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Award Title and name Short citation
CBE Mr Hardip Begol Director, Independent Education, Safeguarding in Schools and Counter Extremism, DfE. For services to education
CBE Ms Clare Chamberlain Director of Family Services, Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea. For services to children and families
CBE Mr Andrew Christie Lately Director of Children’s Services for Tri-borough (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster), and Chair of the National Adoption Leadership Board. For services to children
CBE Professor Anthony Grayling For services to philosophy
CBE Professor Janice Kay Provost and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter. For services to higher education
CBE Mr Mark Malcomson Principal and Chief Executive, City Lit. For services to adult education
CBE Mr Malcolm Newsam Lately Children’s Social Care Commissioner, Rotherham metropolitan borough council and Children’s Services Improvement Board Chair, Knowsley borough council. For services to children’s social care
CBE Mr Seamus Oates CEO and Executive Headteacher, TBAP Multi-Academy Trust. For services to education
CBE Mr Roger Pope CEO of Academies South West Multi Academy Trust, and Principal of Kingsbridge Community College, Devon, and Chair of the NCTL. For services to education
CBE Mr Nigel Richardson Lately Director of Children’s Services, Leeds city council. For services to children and families
CBE Professor Steven West Vice-Chancellor, University of the West of England. For services to higher education
CBE Dr Margaret Whalley Lately Director of Research, Training and Development, Pen Green Training and Development Centre, Corby, Northamptonshire. For services to education

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Award Title and name Short citation
OBE Ms Jane Acklam Executive Principal and CEO, Moor End Academies Trust. For services to education
OBE Mrs Diane Aderyn Director of Finance and Commercial Services, University of Bath. For services to higher education
OBE Mr Joe Baden Founder, Open Book Project. For services to higher education
OBE Mrs Alison Beane Executive Headteacher, Mary Rose Academy and Cliffdale Primary Academy, Portsmouth and a Director of the Solent Academies Trust. For services to education
OBE Mrs Susan Bennett Head of St Thomas Centre Nursery School, Birmingham. For services to education
OBE Mr Abdul Bhanji Deputy Chair, University of London Board of Trustees. For services to education and young people
OBE Ms Eleanor Brazil Children’s Services Commissioner Slough, Sandwell and Dudley. For services to children’s social care
OBE Mrs Julie Bullous Lately Executive Headteacher, Federation of Mary Howard and St. Andrew’s Primary School, Tamworth, Staffordshire. For services to education
OBE Mrs Joanna Burgess Principal and Founder of Blossom House School, London. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities
OBE Professor Claire Callender Professor of Higher Education Studies, University College London Institute of Education. For services to higher education
OBE Dr Jonathan Clark Executive Headteacher, Beckmead Family of Schools, Croydon. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities
OBE Mr Christopher Cook Chairman, Lincolnshire Local Safeguarding Children Board. For services to children
OBE Ms Janet Cooper Partner in Specialist Law Firm, Tapestry Compliance. For services to equality, women’s empowerment and employee share ownership
OBE Mrs Donna Cornwell Associate Headteacher, Swaffham Bulbeck Church of England Primary School, Cambridge. For services to education
OBE Mr Stuart Cornwell Chair of Trustees, A Way Out, Stockon-on-Tees, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Spurgeons Child Care and Chair of the Advisory Panel, Safe Families for Children. For services to children and families
OBE Mrs Angela Cox Diocesan Director for Education, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds. For services to education
OBE Professor Valentine Cunningham Lately Professor of English Language and Literature, Corpus Christi College Oxford. For services to scholarship and understanding of humanities
OBE Professor Mary Dunning Lately Governor, Tyne Metropolitan College. For services to further and higher education and the community in the North East of England
OBE Mr Michael Foy (G6) Regional Head for the Midlands and North West, Free Schools Capital Division, Education Funding Agency. For services to the Department for Education
OBE Mr Brian Gale Director of Policy and Campaigns, National Deaf Children’s Society. For services to special educational needs
OBE Mr David Gould Lately Executive Principal, ARK Boulton Academy, Birmingham and Regional Director (Secondary), ARK. For services to education
OBE Mr Christopher Green Founder, White Ribbon Campaign. For services to equality
OBE Mr Robert Green CEO, Stonewall Housing. For services to the LGB&T community
OBE Mr Brian Hooper Lately CEO, Ambitions Academy Trust. For services to education
OBE Professor Susan Hunstan Professor of English Language, University of Birmingham. For services to higher education and applied linguistics
OBE Ms Kathryn Jacob CEO, Pearl & Dean, for services to the promotion of equality and diversity
OBE Dr Brinder Mahon Chief Executive Officer, Nishkam School Trust. For services to education
OBE Mrs Philomena Marshall Lately Executive Principal, Excelsior Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne, and currently Education Director and trustee of Laidlaw Schools Trust. For services to education
OBE Reverend Jen Mullis Assistant Director, Further Education Commercial and Legal Unit, Department for Education. For services to further education and to the community in Yorkshire
OBE Ms Carol Norman Headteacher, Welbeck Primary School, Nottingham. For services to education
OBE Ms Shona Sands Powell Director, Nottingham Lakeside Arts. For services to the arts and education
OBE Professor Rosalind Richards Head of International Study and Language Institute, University of Reading. For services to language support for international education
OBE Mr Michael Robbins Principal, Bridgwater and Taunton College. For services to further education
OBE Mrs Marva Rollins Headteacher, Raynham Primary School, Edmonton, London. For services to education

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Award Title and name Short citation
MBE Councillor Mohammed Aikhlaq Chair of Leigh Multi-Academy Trust, Birmingham. For services to education
MBE Mrs Anjana Appiah Foster Carer, Islington council. For services to children
MBE Mr Krushnah Appiah Foster Carer, Islington council. For services to children
MBE Mr Kenneth Barrass Lately Chair, Rotherham and North Nottinghamshire College. For services to further education
MBE Mr Anthony Bayon Chair of Governors, Harris Academy Merton and Harris Academy, and Member of the Harris Federation Board. For services to education
MBE Ms Cathy Blair Lately Director of Targeted and Specialist Children and Families Services at Islington council. For services to children’s social work
MBE Mr Jonathan Bloomer Lately Trustee and Honorary Treasurer of the NSPCC. For services to children and young people
MBE Mrs Tracey Booth Chair of Governors, Churchill Community College, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear. For services to education
MBE Ms Debra Bourne Co-Founder, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk. For services to diversity in the fashion industry
MBE Ms Jo Ann Boylan-Kemp Lately Principal Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University. For services to higher education
MBE Mr Guy Brigg Deputy Headteacher, Dr Radcliffe’s Church of England School, Oxfordshire. For services to education and to the community in Oxfordshire
MBE Ms Karen Brock Founder, Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service. For services to education
MBE Ms Candy Burgess Head of Pupil Services, Islington council. For services to special educational needs and disabilities
MBE Mr Joseph Cahill Police Officer and Chair of Governors, Broadway Academy, Birmingham. For services to education and to the community
MBE Mr Keith Caulkin Lately Physics Teacher, The Blue Coat School Liverpool. For services to education
MBE Mr Richard Cheetham Senior Fellow in Sport Coaching, University of Winchester. For services to education and community sport
MBE Mrs Kerry Clancy-Horner Area Manager, Children’s Services, The Children’s Society. For services to children and young people
MBE Mrs Susan Clifford Volunteer, Adoption UK. For services to children and families
MBE Mrs Penelope Cox Headteacher, Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School, Richmond. For services to Education
MBE Mr Peter Davies Chair of Governors, Kingsdown School, Southend on Sea, Essex and Chair of the Interim Executive Board, Leigh North Street Juniors. For services to education
MBE Mrs Judith Deighton Foster Carer, Hampshire county council. For services to children
MBE Ms Jill Derry Group Human Resources Director, Centrica PLC, and Women’s Business Council Member. For services to women and equality
MBE Mr Martin Devenish Alumni Support, University Council, University of Birmingham. For services to higher education and voluntary service to educational development overseas
MBE Mrs Helen Dicker Chair of Governors, Tarleton Academy and Lately Chair of Governors, Tarleton Community Primary. For services to education
MBE Mrs Betty Dixon Chair of Governors, Jacksdale Primary School and Selston Primary School, Nottinghamshire. For services to education
MBE Mrs Yvonne Edwards Governor and former Chair of Governors, Northampton School for Boys. For services to education
MBE Mrs Patricia Fellows School Meal Advisor. For services to education
MBE Mr Tony Fenwick Co-Chair, School’s Out. For services to the LGB&T community
MBE Mrs Jennifer Foote Company Secretary and General Counsel, Manchester College (UK LTE Group) and Chair, National Clerks Network. For services to further education
MBE Mr Steve Frampton Principal, Portsmouth Sixth-Form College. For services to education
MBE Ms Karen Fraser Director, Advertising Association. For services to diversity and equality in the advertising industry
MBE Ms Sarah Garrett Founder, Square Peg Media. For services to diversity and inclusion
MBE Mrs Jacqueline Gent Headteacher, Bishop Barrington School, Co Durham. For services to education and to the community
MBE Mrs Patricia Gould Chair of High View School, Plymouth. For services to education
MBE Mrs Sherann Hillman Project Lead Seashell Trust, Co-Chair and North West Representative of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, Chair for PIPS Parent Carer Forum. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities
MBE Ms Elaine Holness Kinship Carer and Organiser of Lambeth and Southwark Kinship Care Support Group, Director of the Karibu Education Centre. For services to children and families and the community of Lambeth
MBE Ms Sara Kibel Governor, Westminster Adult Education Service. For services to adult education
MBE Mrs Glynis Kortright Volunteer and lately Chair of Governors, St Andrew’s and St Mark’s Junior School, Surrey. For services to education
MBE Mr Max Mills School Volunteer, St John Fisher Catholic High School, Harrogate. For services to education
MBE Mrs Catherine Parlett Chair, Lighthouse Trust, Leeds. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities
MBE Mr Gordon Phillips Lately Principal, The Meadows Sports College, Oldbury, West Midlands. For services to special educational needs and disabilities
MBE Ms Mary Quinn Education Consultant, and Former Executive Principal, Stourport High School and 6th Form College, Stourport-on-Severn. For services to education
MBE Mr Mark Riddell Trafford Care Leaving Services. For services to children
MBE Mrs Rita Roblin Foster Carer, Bristol and Chairperson, North Somerset Foster Panel. For services to children
MBE Mr Michael Roughan Chairman, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Leicestershire and Rutland Adoption Panels. For services to children and to the community
MBE Mrs Susan Sharratt Lately Head of Speech and Language Unit and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, Bexton School, Knutsford. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities
MBE Ms Jill Sheldrake Service Director, Together Trust, Cheadle, Cheshire. For services to children
MBE Mr Michael Spence Teaching Assistant and Former Governor, Manorbrook Primary School, Gloucestershire. For services to education and disability sport
MBE Ms Denise Tully Bequeathal Officer, University of Liverpool. For services to medical education and research
MBE Mrs Louise Upton Foster Carer, Kent county council. For services to children
MBE Mr Ronald Upton Lately Foster Carer, Kent county council. For services to children
MBE Ms Angela (Willy) Walters Programme Director for Fashion, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. For services to higher education, fashion and the creative industries
MBE Mrs Gillian Walton Lately Deputy Headteacher, St Martin’s Catholic Primary School, Cheshire. For services to education
MBE Mr George Wells Chair, Selby College Corporation. For services to further education
MBE Dr Nicola Wetherall For service to Holocaust, genocide prevention and human rights education
MBE Mrs Sue Wilkinson Association Strategic Lead at Association for Physical Education. For services to education

British Empire Medal (BEM)

Award Title and name Short citation
BEM Mrs Elizabeth Blackburn Support Worker, The William Henry Smith School, West Yorkshire. For services to special educational needs and disabilities
BEM Mrs Jeanette Courtman After School Club Chair, Pre-School Chair and Breakfast Club Chair, Holbeton School, Devon. For services to education and the local community
BEM Ms Diane Croston Chair of Governors, Morgans Primary School and Nursery, Hertfordshire. For services to education
BEM Mrs Beverley Darlison Chair, Parent Teachers Association and Organiser, School Summer Playscheme, Fitzwaryn School, Oxfordshire. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities
BEM Mrs Mary Duncan Volunteer, Chailey Heritage Foundation, East Sussex. For services to special educational needs and disabilities
BEM Mr David Emley Lately technician, Keele University. For services to higher education and natural history in Staffordshire   
BEM Mr Michael Fillenham Founder and Chairman, Western Area Clerks Association. For services to education
BEM Mr William Gerlach UK Volunteer Reading Scheme, Shawley Community Primary School, Surrey. For services to education
BEM Mrs Habidah Glass School Volunteer, Clayton Village Primary School, Bradford. For services to education
BEM Mr Gerald Granston For services to holocaust education
BEM Mr Victor Hird Farm and Estates Manager, Brackenhurst Campus, Nottingham Trent University. For services to land-based education
BEM Mrs Maureen Nunn Mid-day Assistant, Cleaner and School Volunteer, Lubbins Park Primary School, Essex. For services to education
BEM Mrs Carmen Patel Lately Head of Year 11, Oasis Academy Coulsdon, Croydon. For services to education
BEM Mrs Margaret Shaw Leader, 19th Huddersfield (Golcar Church) Rainbows and Brownies. For services to children
BEM Mrs Fiona Sinfield Lately Music Teacher, Linton Mead Primary School, Thamesmead, London. For services to education and the local community
BEM Ms Rosalind Taylor Volunteer Assessor for Eco-Schools Green Flag Award. For services to education

Read More

PYMNTS’ 2016 Roundup: Retail Edition

Source http://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2016/pymnts-2016-roundup-retail-edition/

There’s no doubt about it. This year has been big for retail — big on change, innovation and some surprises along the way. EMV changed the payments game in the U.S. Consumers flocked to online and mobile commerce, robots rose in food and consumer goods, and brick-and-mortar stayed relevant with retail experimentation — popupsflash sales, store-in-store and showrooms.

But before we get wrapped up in all that 2017 will offer the world of payments, retail and technology, let’s take one more look back at some of the top retail stories, insights, interviews, trends and projections PYMNTS published throughout the past year.

A Retail Data Reporting Error Was Uncovered

2016 started off with a bang in the retail world when MPD and PYMNTS uncovered a few discrepancies in the retail data that many major retailers and reporting institutions were using to underestimate the impact of digital sales on brick-and-mortar sales.

“In 2016, I believe that physical retail may be facing its own ‘Kodak moment,’” wrote Karen Webster. “How many times have you heard retail experts assuage the concerns of physical retailers over the impact of online sales to their business by saying, ‘Don’t worry — 94 percent of retail sales still happen in a physical store’?”

As it turns out, the team at MPD found themselves swimming in a sea of ambiguity as it dove into the methodology that the Census was using to estimate online sales, documenting that as far back as 2010.The bottom line is that this team is pretty certain that anyone resting on their 94 percent laurels is probably in for anything but a relaxing year ahead.

Mastercard Offered Global Retail Trend Insights

In the beginning of the year, PYMNTS interviewed two Mastercard executives, Max Chion, executive vice president of global acceptance products, and Michael Cyr, executive vice president of U.S. market development, to get both a domestic and worldwide perspective on the current retail landscape.

“In a world where connectivity is a given, convenience will be table stakes,” remarked Chion.

Essential for retailers on that front, posited Mastercard, will be the integration of innovative technologies — such as the company’s own Groceries by Mastercard, a refrigerator-linked shopping app — that work in concert, saving customers time without sacrificing security.

Chion added that “interconnectivity and seamlessness will be the true differentiators” in this regard.

Data analyzed by Mastercard SpendingPulse showed that 2015 was a record year for retail spend on airlines and lodging. A major aspect of consumer vacations, according to the company, is shopping — for brands consumers know, as well as experiencing the discovery of new ones.

“This is happening within countries but also amplified across borders, particularly for categories like luxury,” said Chion. Mastercard attested that the increasing connectivity among once disparate regions of the world is a prime opportunity for retailers.

Cyr said that another of Mastercard’s survey findings is that close to 80 percent of consumer purchases are informed by a connected device. Third-party reviews posted online approached becoming as influential on shoppers’ decisions as recommendations from their family members and friends.

As a result, Mastercard predicted that in 2016, the savviest retailers would expand their digital presence through methods such as implementing buy buttons, facilitating P2P product education and describing products in more conversational language — i.e., less marketing jargon — on social commerce platforms.

Cyr and Chion highlighted that a unifying factor in all of the trends is customer experience. Retailers that focus on delivering the best experience possible, the pair concludes, will be the ones most likely to gain sales ahead of their competitors.

Unattended Retail Came Full Circle

In the February edition of the PYMNTS Unattended Retail Tracker, an interview with USA Technologies’ SVP of Marketing Maeve Duska and Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development Mike Lawlor revealed how and why the unattended retail space is booming and what new revenue opportunities it enables.

“There was a time when market share for vending was shrinking because people were looking for a more customized experience in the store. But what’s happened with online shopping, mobile shopping, and smartphones is that retailers have come to learn that they can still deliver that customized experience to the consumer without having to have a person standing physically in front of them,” explained Duska.

Today’s consumers prefer to get what they want when they want it, and Duska noted that unattended retail enables this instant gratification — and then some. These newly modernized retail storefronts now offer 24/7 access to a variety of goods and services, just like consumers would get online — or in a physical retail store, when they were open, of course.

This makes it the perfect time for unattended retail to flourish. Whether it’s “upscale” vending machines, commercial laundry, kiosks, parking, amusements or the micromarkets that enable consumers to dine cafeteria-style by buying a variety of fresh food and beverage options on the go, it appears that unattended retail is a category that is exploding. The retail automation market is forecasted to reach upwards of $275 billion by the year 2020, with the lucrative growth rate of the retail market and a focus on ease and convenience serving as driving factors behind the expected boost.

Whether it’s Best Buy or Apple, they’ve all recognized what Coke and Pepsi have for years, said Mike Lawlor.

“They’ve put their products at the fingertip of the consumer where they work, where they play, where they transit, and, if there’s a need for that immediate impulse consumption or purchase, they’ll do it,” Lawlor said. “The consumers who have been trained by online purchases are now doing those same types of transactions at an interactive vending machine or kiosk. When the experience is good and easy there as it is online, they’ll make the purchase in a heartbeat.”

EMV Rollouts Had Retailers Eyeing Alternative Payment Methods

As EMV slowly rolled out in the U.S., ACI Worldwide’s CEO Philip Heasly explained how the change might drive them to more seriously consider alternative payment methods that bypass traditional card networks.

They’re all trying to grapple with the upside-down economics associated with experiencing big increases in sales on a small base (eCommerce) and a small drop on a much larger base (in-store sales), he said. That has merchants grappling with a change in payments focus, Heasley added. In addition to the pressure on their bottom lines, networks “gave merchants [in the U.S. two years] to adapt, instead of the three years they gave everybody else around the world.”

The end result, Heasley remarked, is that the pressure to adopt EMV has “not created a lovefest” between the retailers and card networks.

“This will increase the appetite of the physical guys (retailers) to get into much more of an alternative payment scenario,” Heasley said.

As alternative payments abound (and retailers become payments agnostic), settlement will become a game changer, Heasley believes, forcing a shift in the roles and responsibilities of the players within the payments ecosystem. The end result will be that merchant acquirers will evolve into settlement processors for the merchants themselves, casting aside their traditional role of authentication, he said.

Thinking even longer-term and in the bigger picture, Heasley offered up a scenario: “What if we were to use all the great technology that exists from a mobility standpoint, from a digital standpoint? We see how great cameras are, how great GPS is, how great multifactor authentication is.… What if we use the technology so that as soon as a consumer enters the store, the merchant authenticates you through your phone and serves up the last card you used when you shopped there, ready for payment, and offers consumers an incentive to favor one method over another?”

But New Payment Tech Also Caused Worry In the Retail Space

The August edition of PYMNTS’ Developer Tracker featured an interview with founder and CPO for Vend Vaughan Rowsell, who said that many retailers fretted about the daunting task of meeting the high expectations of today’s customers by introducing new payment technology.

“Keeping operations siloed just doesn’t cut it anymore, but it can take some people time to come around to new technologies,” Rowsell said. He added that some merchants just can’t see the bigger picture of bringing various channels together or believe it will be too hard to accomplish.

The change to cloud-based technologies, which Rowsell said fuels the creation of a true omnichannel experience, can be a tough move, especially for SMBs.

“It can take time to build up your comfort levels and competency with online, mobile and in-store selling and how it all works together,” he said.

The best thing merchants can do is just get started, Rowsell said, adding that this can be as simple as taking a step to set up a new POS system and using a mobile payments provider. Once that’s done, it’s just a matter of linking to an online store and creating a strategy for communicating to customers in the same way across all those channels.

“It doesn’t have to be a big, scary change right away,” he pointed out.

As the POS and payments space continues to evolve, the ultimate goal, specifically for Vend, is to eliminate the need for the traditional cash register altogether.

“We’re already seeing many stores go straight to using [an] iPad to serve their customers — it takes up less space on the counter and means they can take a sale on the shop floor,” Rowsell said. “And because sales can be made from anywhere across any channel, location and size of the retail store will become less of a barrier. As the pace of change picks up, we’ll also see POS and payments systems becoming integrated with even newer technologies like augmented reality and 3-D printing to bring digital elements into the physical world. It’s a really exciting time to be in retail.”

Pokémon Go Boosted Retail In A Big Way

This summer, Pokémon Go brought augmented reality (AR) to the masses and topped all kinds of gaming charts and records. Revel CTO Chris Ciabarra talked to PYMNTS about the profound effect Pokémon Go had on retail and what AR could do for retail in the future.

“We are especially wired into trending because we make it easy for our retailers to plug in and see what is having an effect — and what exactly effect it is having,” Ciabarra said. “What we’re seeing online here is that 63 percent of our customers who have Pokestops increase weekly gross sales by 12 percent. If you want to put a number on that, it averages out to about $2,000 to weekly gross sales.”

This, Ciabarra noted, is a notable difference in the bottom line for small and medium-sized businesses on tight margins that requires essentially no investment, upgrade or marketing costs — just the willingness to participate in a virtual world that someone else maintains. More or less, Ciabarra said, it was easy for their merchants to essentially hit a switch that noted they were playing the game — so to speak — so that Revel could easily track what effect it had.

And that effect, as Ciabarra noted, has been profound. Even merchants who don’t have Pokestops are seeing an upswing. Eighty-two percent of merchants reporting nearby Pokestops are seeing an uptick in foot traffic — a 9 percent increase, to be exact. Measured by the customer, businesses that place Pokestop in front of their location see an increase of 253 customers per week and an increase in daily customers of 25.

Ciabarra also noted that apart from the uptick, which was notable, it was equally interesting that the increase was across the board — no matter what vertical the Pokestop was in proximity to.

“It works well for everybody. What we’ve noted is that when that Pokestop is in there, all the people are going to that stop because they really want to catch the Pokémon. So it works for retail, it works for restaurants — it really works everywhere. Augmented reality is where the future is going, and [retailers] need to adapt their stores to that technology.”

Service, Not Sales, Became The New Human Retail Touchpoint

By the last quarter of 2016, the digital age had so fundamentally changed the way consumers engaged with retail that Webster marked the shift as a move away from the need for salespeople.

“Back in the so-called good old days of retail, salespeople used to be the only source of information consumers could consult about a product before they made a purchase,” wrote Webster. “In a digital, mobile and always connected world, consumers have access to nearly perfect information about what they want to buy.”

“The notion of going to a store to see and interact with a salesperson to learn about a product and then visit another to compare brands and prices is a relic of the past. Salespeople have been replaced by product reviews, recommendations based on buying history and ‘editors’ who curate items and selections to guide browsers to buy based on trends and the things they’d like to sell — all before consumers set foot into a store to buy — if they even do.”

“When that more educated buyer walks into a store, they have a totally different expectation for how their ‘human interactions’ should go — with a bar that’s been set pretty high by their online shopping and buying experiences. An informed buyer now wants an efficient transaction: ‘I came to get that coffee maker, your site said that you carry that brand at this price, so please get it for me.’ The onus has shifted from the salesperson in sales mode to operational efficiency mode so that the consumer can get in and out of the store with what the coffee maker they walked in to buy.”

“Retail sales no longer have to rely on the superstar salesperson to move product. They can instead invest in tools and technologies that can be used by anyone walking the floor that provide real-time information about products, offers and even the people who walk through the door.

“Service in support of sales provides a great customer experience and the incentive for the consumer to buy. Putting those tools and technologies put in the hands of consumers only accelerates this shift.”

“Retailers today are facing the reality of this shift and confronting the reality that the asset that they once held most dear — the salesperson — may not offer the competitive advantage that it once did in a world in which decisions are made before a consumer ever steps foot inside the front door…. And the lessons that it holds for all of us as we contemplate our next moves amid these subtle yet powerful shifts in how consumers search, shop and buy.”

—-

Stay tuned in 2017 to find out what the next year will hold in retail, FinTech, business and payments. Happy New Year!

Read More