The holidays are right around the corner now, and it’s a good time for all merchants to do a quick review of their readiness for this critically important season. Clothing retailers in particular should ensure they’re prepared to allow their customers to pay how and when they want, because their part of the industry is moving so fast, and is getting ever more competitive.
First, clothing merchants should ask themselves where their customers are engaging with them. Are buyers able to review the store’s selection online, and do so as easily on their mobile device as on their desktops? Can a customer purchase and ship to their home, or purchase and pick up at any store? Can they return an item easily by post, or by dropping it off at any store? Since many of them will be “showrooming” anyway, does the merchant make it easy for them to mark and remember their favourite items, so they’re more likely to buy them once they get home?
Second, retailers should ensure their customers can pay how they want to. Can they conveniently use their own money to buy clothes – through debit transactions – rather than racking up credit card debt and perhaps being forced to return clothes later to bring it down again? Does the retailer offer fast-as-possible checkouts using tap-and-go point-of-sale technology (after all, who wants to lose customers because their lines are too long)? Can sales associates conduct a transaction anywhere in the store using mobile devices, thus enabling customers to avoid lines entirely? Does the merchant’s website offer a digital payment process that is simple and fast? Does its mobile app offer integrated, digital wallet-based payments – so the customer can find a product and immediately pay for it without needing to enter any new information or opening up an additional application?
Finally, merchants should make sure that their customers’ financial and payment information is secure during and after all transactions. EMV secure chip processing makes card-based and contactless transactions highly secure through strong encryption. Digital Wallets use tokenization – which replaces personal financial information with a random, single-use “token” for the transaction – means that accepting payments from digital wallets is just as safe.
Not all merchants will have time to be at the technological cutting edge – but all merchants can provide today’s basics. Mobile contactless payments, for example, are easy to implement: if you accept Interac Debit, just ask your payment services provider to enable you to accept Interac Flash. Meanwhile, if your point-of-sale system already accepts Interac Flash, it will accept other digital wallet-based payment methods like Interac Debit on Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay without having to make any changes whatsoever.
The holidays are fun for everyone else – and being ready with easy and convenient payment options is a good way for merchants to make sure the holidays are fun for them, too.