Consumers step away from the cash register as payments go wireless

By Claire Reilly

A new report from financial services firm Deloitte has revealed that the way consumers purchase products in the retail environment is changing, and that the future will hold a dramatic increase in the number of people using devices such as smartphones to make purchases, without the need for a cash register.

The report, titled “The future of exchanging value – Uncovering new ways of spending” looked at how consumers currently make purchases, why certain payment methods are successful over others and, interestingly, what the future holds for payments in retail.

One of the authors of the report was Peter Williams, chief edge officer at Deloitte Centre for the Edge, an applied research group that is part of Deloitte’s global operations. Speaking about the findings, Williams said consumers are changing the way they buy.

“Today’s consumers are more mobile in their transactions and now have a wealth of options available regarding where, when and how they make purchasing decisions,” said Williams. “The balance of power has shifted from the traditional retailer to the consumer and the success of online retail trail-blazed this.

“The buying process is now simpler and cheaper so consumers can transact more efficiently. This has been driven by the successful uptake of the smartphone. Consumers are accessing product and service information from around the world and then securing the best purchasing deals available for them.”

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Aside from increased smartphone use, the report also found that the proliferation of wireless internet had helped facilitate a “dramatic shift” away from the cash register.

“Organisations that cannot work with regulators to engender trust in their solution’s operation or follow the consumer-merchant relationship and provide payment solutions that are not instantaneous and ubiquitous, risk being left behind.”

While the Deloitte findings have far-reaching implications for business across Australia, one industry that will be significantly affected by changing trends in consumer behaviour is retail, with the report pulling out the following key points for retailers:

– “There is a need to simplify the customers’ purchase by ensuring the right payments solution is available at the right time and in the right place.
– “Payments need to be instantaneous and broad-reaching; consumers can be transacting in the aisle of a store or at the store’s till.
– “Interactions with customers are moving online and into virtual contexts. Transactions may move into virtual spaces using social media services as a platform to exchange value.
– “Retailers need to develop new business processes and risk models to support the practicalities of accepting and managing the new payments platforms and processes.

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