Retail Business Technology Expo 2018 – Omnichannel and challenges facing retailers

“By 2021 there will be more smartphones the marketplace than people”, it was claimed at Retail Business Technology Expo 2018, where the topic of the day was the rise in mobile payments and the importance of the omnichannel consumer experience.

The Payments Theatre played host to a stellar line-up of payments and retail minds over two days.

The second day began with a panel discussion on Digital Payments Channels, the main topic of discussion being a truly omnichannel experience and how adoption of multiple payment channels will, and must, spread.


“Cards and account payments will almost certainly coexist in the ecosystem”, argued Jonathan Wood, SVP – Consumer Applications, Vocalink.

“Pay by bank overtaking card payments by 2021 is optimistic”, said Paul Proderick, Elavon. “The adoption of those technologies is always going to be a challenge to our sector because of regulation.”

“The question is: what’s the customer experience and how can we improve that?”

Consumer experience was a prevalent theme throughout the day.

The next session tackled the topic of ‘Chinese Super Apps’, and how they are essential in tackling the Asian tourist and resident.

Apps like AliPay and WeChat Pay possess multiple functionalities, including the option for consumers to pay for goods, within one app.


Vanda Kospic, Head of Sales, Wirecard, revealed some eye-watering statistics on the incredible use of ‘Super Apps’.

Kospic told The Payments Theatre that Alipay currently has 520 million active users and £100 million transactions processed through the app per day. WeChat Pay on the other hand, processes £902 million and 92% of international luxury brands have an active account.

These app allows retailers to collect a lot of data about consumers, Kospic continued, including who they’re talking to, what products they like, where they’re travelling to, and so on. This, she argued, would allow retailers to target customers in a very efficient way.

Next, Mastercard’s Scott Abrahams spoke to a packed theatre on the trends, challenges and opportunities facing retail now.

Abrahams argued that there are three main challenges facing retailers today. Data – protecting it and making the most of it; ‘The Conscious Consumer’ – the consumer that wants to know more about your business than just your product; and the importance of the customer journey – how customers interact “in a more joined up fashion, with their expectations going through the roof.”


Speaking on the challenges of GDPR, Abrahams argued that the primary challenge is to ensure that “the essential customer relationship is not affected”, and that “customer trust is maintained at all times”.

Next followed a panel discussion on Gift Card Programmes, featuring speakers from B&Q, Pizza Express and Prepaid Consultancy Services. The panel was moderated by Gail Cohen, Director General of the UK Gift Card Voucher Assocation.

The session revealed a wealth of knowledge on the continued growth of gift cards in the marketplace, for example, that 73.2% of consumers have purchased a gift card in the last three years.


Next followed a presentation from Adyen and Schuh entitled ‘People, Products, Processes and Payments’, which revealed how Schuh have seamlessly integrated Adyen’s intermediary-free payment infrastructure, and how this has benefited their business.

Schuh is backed by entirely bespoke software system, which includes warehousing, finance systems, POS and mobile payments, which was easy to integrate with Adyen.

“Adyen has built from the ground up a set of APIs that are easy to deal with that the developers love”, said Blair Milligan, Systems Manager, Schuh.


He also revealed that Schuh are in the process of integrating Adyen across all of their kiosks and mobile POS systems.

A panel discussion on In-store and Mobile Payments followed, featuring insight from Craig Borrett, 3C Payment, George Vaughan, Ascot Racecourse and Mark McMurtrie, Payments Consultancy.

Discussion focused on the rise of contactless payments and how changing consumer demands are driving out cash and card payments in favour of mobile, not only in retail but also at popular events.


“There’s more choice now for payments than ever before” said Mark McMurtrie, “ The key thing is to understand what end customers want and expect, and contactless is that.”

“Contactless speeds up transaction process which directly leads to improved customer experience. Retailers will display signs saying ‘sorry no contactless’ – is there any other example like this?”

Finally, The Payments Theatre closed with research entitled ‘The Challenge for Retailers – Building an Open Payments Platform”, presented by Sebastien Slim, Head of Marketing and Innovation, HPS.


Related reading