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Posted July 22, 2020 by FreedomPay

Business Intelligence: Actionable Commerce Data

Why millions of merchants fail to manage and optimize their Business Intelligence

1. Stay on top of customer demands

With enhanced Business Intelligence and smarter understanding of transaction-level data, merchants can improve their visibility of product cycles. This is essential for reducing waste, streamlining business operations and reducing costs. Enabling smarter business intelligence is a great way to boost profitability without impacting service quality or user choice.

In today’s world advanced machine learning and modern tech is emerging to make understanding customer demands in near real-time easier. This revolution in Business Intelligence means that management and optimization of data will become second nature; it will be simple, just plug-in and play.

It will have a profound effect on strategic business decisions and for the end user.

2. Why should businesses boost promotion and cross-selling

Product-level insight enables businesses to improve market basket analysis and unlock previously unseen cross-selling opportunities. It is also more straightforward to analyse the impact of promotions and loyalty incentives more effectively. The results will predict and influence future behavior.

3. What can merchants do to exploit near real-time data to keep ahead of competitors

With near real-time data on products and stock units, businesses can also flag important trends as they happen. It suddenly becomes a lot easier to initiate a fast response to optimise an opportunity. Overall predictive services will be more accurate, and the business can operate initiatives like dynamic pricing strategies more effectively.

4. Build Business Intelligence feedback loops to support product development

Transaction-powered Business Intelligence that’s full of stock-keeping unit data gives businesses better visibility of factors like product performance, trends, and insights. With this kind of understanding, businesses can manage and market product offerings based on greater insights. They can also develop new products, create new product bundles and ultimately generate sharp uplifts in revenue. But surprisingly 87% of companies do not have business intelligence capabilities and tools.

5. Capture unexpected events and prevent fraud

Near real-time transactional data doesn’t just help businesses establish patterns for ‘typical’ behavior or product demand cycles. It also helps spot unexpected events, making it much easier to identify fraudulent activity. Equally, this capability can be used to catch and react quickly to a sudden spike in demand.

6. Learn how to explore fresh outlooks with third-party data

Finally, you can also synchronize your transactional data with other third-party data to achieve richer and contextualized analysis. Businesses can overlay transactional data with a third-party weather app to find out if the weather is triggering sales behaviors. Ultimately, you can use this kind of analysis to predict demand, drive seasonal promotion campaigns, and achieve a new level of profitability and efficiency.

To talk about how Business Intelligence can be used for your enterprise, or to discover more about Next Level Commerce™ click here.  

Business Intelligence Solution with transactional data report

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Posted May 21, 2020 by FreedomPay

How to Protect Your Customers with Touchless Commerce

As global consumers are changing their daily behaviors to adhere to social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, businesses, too, are being forced to reimagine operations and change how they reach and sell to their customer base. This unprecedented crisis has created major changes in the way we buy and sell goods, and for many merchants and customers, this means technology innovation is now a priority.

Businesses, especially fine dining and quick service restaurants have shifted gears quickly to ensure they are meeting the needs of their valued customers. Many restaurants are now taking advantage of Touchless Commerce, offering mobile ordering and pickup options to eliminate contact but also streamline delivery and service times.

To make the process even more frictionless, restaurants are implementing, and recommending, the use of contactless payments when placing a pickup or delivery order. Portable payment terminals can accept payment curbside safely and securely, allowing customers to complete payment by accessing digital wallets on their smart phones or tap their contactless card.

Mobile and eCommerce transactions enable the same swiftness and ease, with a customized, uninterrupted checkout flow that can be made quick and seamless by enabling digital wallets. Undoubtedly, contactless, mobile, and eCommerce payments provide vast benefits to the customer including convenience, flexibility, and top-notch security.

In just a matter of weeks, the effects of COVID-19 have forced businesses and restaurants to re-evaluate in-house operations and digitally transform to meet their customer’s needs. With the buying and selling of goods and services happening predominantly online to promote social distancing practices, we have quickly become a marketplace powered by eCommerce. But what are the long-term social implications of these practices? Will online purchasing and mobile payments become our new standard of shopping and dining? How will businesses respond to the explosion of online living?

As we pivot to a highly tech-focused consumer world, the push to order and pay online or through mobile has become engrained in our daily activity. It is anticipated that in a post- COVID-19 world businesses will continue to supplement their daily operations with fast and frictionless payment technology. The opportunities in promoting a consumer-centric experience driven by technology are untapped and this is just the beginning!

Read the original article here.

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Posted January 30, 2020 by FreedomPay

What Does the Future Hold for Self-Service Kiosks?

Kiosks can be used in more places and do much more than ever before – from fast food ordering in restaurants (e.g. McDonald’s) to integrated transport and entertainment ticketing.

Devices are now more robust and resilient and, as a result, are popping up in more locations. Kiosks are now being developed as hyper-efficient, with low energy requirements and instant sleep/wake up modes, some even offer solar-powered options that allow them to operate off-grid.

Kiosks come in all shapes and size too, with a whole raft of integrated features and functionality including touch screens, full-color displays, multimedia, voice activation and more. The one common capability they share, however, is that they can accept payment whether it be by card, contactless, and even by mobile.

Technology is reimagining unattended payments

Kiosks will have to work harder to deliver what modern retailers need (new revenue opportunity) and what consumers want (even more convenience). Luckily the technology needed to facilitate this is already here.

We now have internet-enabled kiosks, supported by managed platforms and run from integrated connected gateways, using cloud-based services. These are opening new opportunities and functionality for kiosks. Here’s a taster of what’s in store:

• Tokenization will play a star role

Kiosk owners need ways of letting customers feel in control of their experience but still being able to ‘connect’ with them. Increasingly, tokens will be used to customize the consumer’s journey and encourage uplift in sales by pushing real-time promotions and loyalty incentives.

• Kiosks will power cross-brand/location marketing

By using payment gateways to pick up tokens, retailers will be able to follow consumers outside their own channels and across multiple-brand journeys, creating ‘bundled’ experiences. For instance, a car park ticketing machine could alert nearby retailers and restaurants when a visitor arrives so that they can send an automated email, text or proximity alert for local offers and promotions to their mobile phone.

• Connected platforms will deliver hybrid virtual/physical services

Self-service installations will increasingly be used to straddle digital and physical worlds and provide hybrid services. Internet connectivity and touch screens allow users to browse inventory as well as order, pay, and redeem available rewards. Add-on devices and AI could be used to enhance the consumer’s experience, for instance, virtual mirrors for fashion and cosmetics.

• Smart kiosks will respond to real-time shopping patterns

Connected installations mean that data, software, and updates can be delivered to kiosks remotely, enabling retailers to be more in control and responsive to customer needs. With insights from kiosk-generated real-time reports, retailers can customize services remotely by switching functionality on and off and adding new features to reflect local trends, seasonal patterns, special events, etc.

• New self-serve ecosystems will embrace third party content and apps

There’s a real opportunity for kiosks to deliver multi-brand services making them important new revenue streams for their owners. Third-party content and advertising can already be enabled by platforms such as FreedomPay’s DecisionPoint Network (DPN). With new commerce platforms, providing separate environments for coding, testing and experimenting with external apps, we could soon see kiosks enriched with customer-facing services – e.g. concierge, curators, maps and travel guides.

Thanks to new platforms and technologies, it’s clear that kiosks now have the potential to become an integral part of the omnichannel sales experience and an important gateway to the new collaborative digital service ecosystem of the future.

 

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Posted January 24, 2020 by FreedomPay

Navigating the Payment Gateway Ecosystem

We live in an open world – open for choice, collaboration, and opportunity. Being open involves connecting and networking in new ways and in the context of the retail environment, that means building and growing new ecosystems.

While most are familiar with the ecosystems that already exist between retailers, acquirers, and banks, a new set of digital and cloud-based ecosystems continue to emerge that delivers a plethora of next-generation, value-added services straight to the point of sale (POS) or online checkout. At the heart of this is the commerce and payment gateways that act as central hubs, linking the various data flows and platforms within expanding retail ecosystems.

It’s time to rethink gateways.

The concept of the commerce gateway as a doorway to an exciting ‘plug and play’ service playground is still new to many retailers. To help them navigate their way through the complexity, we’ve put together a quick guide to help them understand the changing role of the payment gateway in facilitating these new ecosystems:

 

  • Expanding portfolio of APIs and Toolkits

Gateways now offer powerful APIs that allow merchants to connect with thousands of third party scripts and shopping carts while also aiding the development of new applications through toolkits and plug-ins, developer portals and sandpits. With these added APIs, retailers can create their own subscription services, on-demand marketplaces, or even crowdfunding platforms using a range of development languages, including Ruby, Python, PHP, and Java. Some gateways will also support hundreds of currencies and offer features such as mobile payments, subscription billing, and one-click checkout.

 

  • Fast to market plug-and-play marketplaces

Payment gateways are increasingly offering access to their own pre-built app marketplaces – packed with third party offerings that can be used to enrich retailers’ checkouts – from loyalty gamification and e-charity donations to bill splitting and currency conversion. These can dramatically reduce the time to market of launching new POS services, allowing merchants to browse, choose and deploy apps instantly, or remove them, as consumer and market needs dictate. In this way, they can try-out, evaluate and opt for the best service apps for their audiences without committing to long-term lock-in.

 

  • Secure access and sharing

Modern commerce platforms can separate out payment transactions from service platforms, to ensure that sensitive payment data is never compromised within the ecosystem. Equally important is their ability to deliver multiple user support and logins so that service teams and other business functions (including accounts and compliance) can access reports and specifically authorized features. It goes without saying that these also ensure a visible audit trail that links specific actions to authorized users. In addition, gateways can also provide custom security settings as well as anti-fraud capabilities to ensure that the transaction path is secure at all times, protecting against fines, fees, and chargebacks.

 

  • Tracking complex customer journeys

To aid targeting, personalization and more effective loyalty incentives, offers and promotions, it makes sense to be able to track customers and their journeys across retail ecosystems – between brands, channels, and locations. The gateway can aid this using tokenization, to ‘follow’ the customer through various journeys by allowing payment methods to be linked to transaction activity. Through data anonymization, information such as what, when, where, and how purchases and interactions were made can be shared across functions and brands within the ecosystem, without compromising sensitive cardholder or payment data.

 

  • Relationships must be reengineered, too

From Alibaba and Amazon, the development of the retail marketplace as an aggregated website is reshaping the global definition of the retailer and the sales ecosystem. Brands are now squeezing their way in between retailers and their customers, particularly in new e-marketplaces inclusive of review sites and comparison sites, payment providers, loyalty apps, returns companies, influencers, and social media.

 

Retailers can’t afford to wait for the customer to be ready to purchase their product, they need to get closer to them before they decide to buy. Owning or running a commerce gateway allows retailers to build their own ecosystems that put customers’ desires and needs first by enabling them to find new ways to interact (content marketing, geolocation and push services) and to personalize experiences.

Check out our blogs on DPN, tokenization and business intelligence for more ideas on how to fast-track to success!

 

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Posted January 15, 2020 by FreedomPay

Giving Gen Z and Millennials More at the Point of Sale

Consumers in the U.S are growing increasingly frustrated at the slow progress that has been made in addressing the acceleration of technology at the point of sale. Whether it be unclear or inconsistent messaging (e.g., contactless), disjointed back-end systems, rapidly evolving and expanding payment options, or a continued lack of properly implemented payment security solutions – consumers do not appreciate, and will not remain loyal to, ‘the friction.’  A void quickly being filled by the Amazon(s) of the world, who can provide a complete end-to-end ecosystem of capabilities with a frictionless consumer experience, this poses an existential commercial problem for other businesses.

No matter the size of merchant, the challenge to serve the tech savvy consumer is becoming increasing complex.  Demand for more innovative user experiences, seamlessly integrated back-end systems, and easier and faster ways to pay for goods and services is a daily challenge, continually increasing the level of system disparity and fragmentation.  This means that the biggest issue facing merchants is how they upgrade and sync complex legacy payment tech systems to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.  In other words, businesses must futureproof their payment technology to enable growth.

FreedomPay is leading the debate on this new world of data driven customer-centric commerce and for the hundreds of companies who work with us, it’s about overcoming the payment data and digital infrastructure challenges. Those who’ve tackled this successfully know they will deliver growth in 2020 and beyond.

That said, thousands of businesses still need help with their payment options, legacy technology and internal data. This new research uncovers and quantifies the significant impact technology is having at the point of sale both for the merchant and the customer and the disparate behaviors when buying goods and services.

Our research has found that security remains a key concern when considering new technology payments and methods. And yet, there is no doubt that the adoption of new technology, if implemented correctly, will reduce risk and compliance issues.

The use of contactless and mobile wallets in North America will accelerate. Just look at what’s happening in other parts of the world such as Europe and so, we believe the time is now right for change. Businesses will thrive when they focus on the customer and deliver a truly holistic approach to payments.

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Posted November 20, 2019 by FreedomPay

The Rapid & Changing World of Commerce Platforms as a Service

The world of commerce platforms now expands beyond transactional payments—information is king! Host Tyler Kern and Barry Stearn, director of partner success for Europe’s division of FreedomPay, discussed emerging payment trends, and how this fast-evolving landscape is becoming more complex.

“Payments has become really an information business,” said Stearn. “Yes, there is a transactional exchange, there is a packet of data that passes from the merchant through to the processor for authorization…but built in that consumer journey, look at all the elements that exist around that process.”

Stearn went on to explain how the back end-data engine can help businesses, e.g. the service industry, capitalize on the many customer interactions at those establishments.

“At FreedomPay, we have the ability not only to capture information at the point of sale around what that loyal customer is buying, we can also build out an analytical token of said consumer profile,” Stearn said.

This securely stored environment allows the client to better understand who their loyal customer is, and to properly market offers and promotions that make sense.

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Posted November 13, 2019 by Bernard Clary

Recapturing Hospitality’s Magic Moments

There’s a magical moment in every really good hospitality experience where a customer thinks “these guys really get me”. The winning formula for anyone involved in the customer experience is that instant connection that not only seals the deal or purchase but leads to unquestionable loyalty.

The personal experience

Everyone appreciates the personal touch. Whether it’s a local barista remembering your regular order, a restaurant that knows you by name and your favorite table, or a hotel concierge that opens the door on arrival.

Replicating these small, highly personal moments, takes more than a responsive website, a cool app or an e-loyalty program. It takes a deep understanding of the individuals experience and their likes and dislikes.

In the face-to-face world this involves a two-way dialogue, personal interaction and engaging conversations. In the digital world, this is harder to achieve.

Combatting disconnect
The so called ‘uberization’ of the hospitality business (via remote, automated systems, mobile and web services) is perhaps in danger of reducing some customer interaction to ‘dumb’ transactions that take hotels, F&B, entertainment  and travel operators even further away from delivering the unique experiences they need to compete effectively.

But all is not lost. By integrating a data-driven smart commerce platform to include secure switching, real-time data, tokenization, and marketing opportunities  solutions, hospitality companies of all sizes can recapture those highly personal and magical moments.

How to deliver the personalized service

A data-commerce platform can generate and store transactional ‘tokens’. These can be used to identify and follow the customer on their sales journeys, tracking their spending and allowing insights to be collected and reused by functions including CRM and logistics.  Basically, acting as an identity broker to track consumers across different technology assets.

This gives businesses a 3600 view of the customer across channels, locations and brands. It allows them to share that visibility, in order to connect-the-dots internally, so they can achieve the ultimate goal – turning transactions into relationships.

The customer journey

So, how does all of this translate into a better valued experience for the customer?  In the simplest of terms, with a data-commerce deployment model, customers could expect to hear “yes” much more often: “Like to pay by mobile? No problem!”, “Prefer to be charged in a local currency? “Of course!”, “Want to use your loyalty points to upgrade and pay in our restaurant? Sure!”.

As well as offering greater payment choice across all channels, a data-connected platform can transform value and loyalty programs by allowing rewards to be effortlessly collected and redeemed across any sales or service point (and those of partners) with ease. Even without a card or membership number.

And that’s only the beginning…

Want to capture the magic for yourself?

Download a copy of FreedomPay’s latest report “Hospitality 2020+The Reasons Why We Talk About Data-Driven Commerce” and discover more.

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Posted November 11, 2019 by Bernard Clary

Understanding Tokenization

More than a buzzword, ‘Tokenization’ has gone mainstream, protecting merchants against the perpetual threat of omni-channel payment fraud and delivering the seamless, personalized experiences modern consumers love.  Indeed, for anyone wanting to enrich their customer sales journeys, tokenization is now a must.

That said many businesses, particularly smaller merchants and those in hospitality and travel have still to take the plunge. If you’re still undecided, here’s a quick snapshot to explain what tokenization does and how it can help you.

What is tokenization?

Essentially, tokenization protects bank account and credit card numbers by replacing the buyer’s primary account number (PAN) with a randomly generated alphanumeric code or a ‘token’.  This is linked to the payment method but has no exploitable meaning or ‘value’ for criminals as it cannot be reverse engineered to access the payment details.

How are tokens used?
Tokens are kept in a secure ‘virtual vault’ and can be transmitted across wireless networks and shared without risk to the original payment data. They can also be processed at the point of sale without any personal bank details being revealed. It lets you keep any sensitive data separate from your business systems, while allowing any transactions connected to the card or payment method to be tracked across various locations and channels.

What benefits does it offer merchants?

As well as adding an additional layer of security, tokenization helps streamline processes that involve follow-on transactions or repeat purchases by allowing your systems to ‘recognize’ the customer e.g. for e-receipts, one-click purchasing or to autofill payment pages. It also allows you to build a profile of their spending patterns and to provide insights for CRM and marketing to deliver more targeted loyalty programs, promotions and rewards.

Does it impact PCI?

Tokenization is often used in conjunction with PCI compliant point-to-point encryption, to minimize PCI scope, effort and cost for retailers. If no sensitive card data touches their system, it minimizes their risk.

What happens at the POS?
The consumer presents their payment card to the POS device or enters their card number manually on a webstore. The credit card number passes to a token vault (usually a third-party gateway) which generates a token. The token is passed back to the merchant’s system which associates the token with the customer. The merchant can store the token to use in follow-on transactions, such as future sales, voids or returns. All of this takes place instantly and is invisible to the customer.

Are their different types of token?

There are two types:  Single and multiple use. Single use tokens are used purely for data security to safeguard a single transaction and are not stored or linked to further transactions.  Multi-use tokens, on the other hand, can be stored and associated permanently with the customer’s payment method and can be retrieved whenever a customer presents it. For multiple locations, one token vault should be used for each destination as incorrect mapping can lead to cross-token issues.

What do you need to tokenize?
For tokenization to work, a payment gateway is needed to store sensitive data and to generate the random token.

Does it cost?
In most instances there’s no additional charge for the actual token but some gateways may charge a minimal fee to process it and for token storage. All in all, it’s a very small price to pay considering the benefits gained from fraud reduction and experience optimization.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the what and how, at the end of the day the real benefit of tokenization is that its invisible to the user, removes value for fraudsters, and reduces risk while unlocking opportunity for the retailer.

If you’re really serious about taking your retail business to the Next Level, then you need to embrace tokenization – not just for security and compliance but as an important part of your customer-facing strategy. Understanding how it works is just the first step of the journey.

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Posted November 11, 2019 by Bernard Clary

Delays And More Delays – What’s Happening With SCA?

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is a key part of the European PSD2 standard and is hotly anticipated to be one of the most important legislations affecting the financial and retail sectors.

Although scheduled for 14 September 2019, its implementation in the UK has been delayed by 18 months to give businesses more time to meet the new requirements. According to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK businesses now have until March 2021 to comply.

But reactions to the hold-ups have been mixed. With fraud rates on the rise, some players are frustrated at the delays to consumer security. Others are expressing relief that they now have more time to iron out potential technical issues before they go live.

Are businesses ready for SCA?

Under SCA, online transactions where both the business’s payment provider and the cardholder’s bank are located within the European Economic Area (EEA), at least two of the three following methods are required:

  • Knowledge: something only the user knows, such as a password.
  • Possession: something only the user possesses, such as a token or mobile phone.
  • Inherence: something the user is, such as a biometric element (e.g. fingerprint recognition).

It mainly impacts card payments made over the internet as customer present EMV transactions are already 2-factor authenticated – with a chipped card (possession) and with a PIN (knowledge).   There are also some SCA exemptions e.g. for transactions below €30, reoccurring subscriptions, whitelisting and corporate payments.

Although they’ve had nearly two years to prepare since the initial announcement, UK retailers have been kept busy dealing with other regulatory standards including GDPR, PCI and PSD2 – not to mention the distractions caused by uncertainty around Brexit. Without the SCA extension, many businesses would simply not have enough resource or investment available for the systems and processes required to facilitate multifactor authentication.

How does the market feel about SCA progress?

Given the rising incidence of fraud, many in the industry want to see enhanced, secure digital experiences fast-tracked. At the same time, some are feeling overwhelmed at the complexity and its impact on the customer experience.

To help accelerate SCA and reduce potential friction, lots of retailers are looking at mobile and biometric based authentication as a possible route to compliance. UK retailers will be able to use the delay as ‘breathing space’ to explore new authentication approaches more fully, to implement any technical fixes and minimize disruption – particularly in online transactions.

However, it’s vital that they are ready for the next deadline to fulfil the security promise of PSD2 and to prevent consumers from being disappointed.

Will SCA add drag to frictionless payments?

There is a fear that too much complexity at the checkout will drive sales conversion down.  Merchants are working with the industry and their providers to minimize SCA’s impact on the UX.   There may be some extra security steps for the consumers, but most will welcome this if it means they are better protected. It will also make them more confident particularly when making higher ticket spends online.

We believe that the focus in the next few months will be facilitating secure experience while ensuring the customer has a frictionless user journey, creating faster, better and more ‘seamless’ SCA technology. Having digital core processes and gateways is crucial to helping merchants adapt effectively and accelerate new innovations.

There is always the danger that, in super-fast one-click digital economies, SCA will turn some consumers off. The secret to overcoming this could be using the consumers own technology and familiar processes to ease the experience. Many are very comfortable with smartphone biometrics, for example, and regularly use their phones as part of the authentication process for banking, loyalty and retail apps. Done properly, SCA should become as intuitive to future shoppers as  chip and PIN is for many today.

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