Posted July 01, 2021 by FreedomPay

Forget Competitors, It’s Customers Who Hold the Aces

The report showed that in the past 12 months, almost half (44%) of America’s leading retail and hospitality merchants switched their efforts directly to better understanding the customer.

Merchants are changing their tech-investment conversation from ‘staying ahead of the dominant competitor’ to ‘staying up to speed with the rapidly shifting needs of customers and staff.’ But according to a new report from J.P. Morgan and FreedomPay, this has left one in five (19%) facing dilemmas about their immediate service priorities.

The 2020 pandemic took almost every business in every sector by surprise – both for its ferocity and speed at which the virus spread. For retail and hospitality businesses, it created a backdrop of shattered forecasts, crippling logistics and stymied sales.

While ecommerce and curbside services boomed, merchants who rely on physical channels and services struggled to retain customer relationships, as throughput, face-to-face interactions and sales fell. Their focus flipped from staying one step ahead of the competition, playing ‘catch-up’ and ‘me-too’ with innovation, to rebuilding their customer base and accelerating demand.

The pandemic is reshaping loyalty
Brand allegiance is no longer a given and must evolve in line with new behaviors, attitudes, and ethical considerations. The reduction in customer engagement, sales volume and value during the pandemic is making brands rethink habitual and outdated approaches to loyalty.

Retail and hospitality organizations are looking for new ways to bring customer loyalty into every interaction. Not simply asking customers to sign up to a static loyalty or referral program but loading it with more targeted and personalized incentives and doing whatever it takes to ensure both short and long-term customer retention.

The use of encryption and tokens to aid compliance is providing them with the tools to recognize and track individual customer journeys and enable loyalty value to be transportable across brands, locations, channels and even between other synergistic retail and hospitality partners.

Customer engagement, interaction and transaction must evolve.
Customer-centric organizations will have to renew their focus on digitalization, mobilization and greater unification and sharing. At the heart of this will be real-time, data-driven commerce.

Not only will this drive faster and more convenient payments, and increasingly compelling loyalty and easier-to-redeem rewards, but it also provides the rich data needed to predict trends, target customers, optimize pricing and customer service to elevate sales revenue and growth.

With pent-up demand poised to kick-start growth, it’s clear that those businesses which focus their tech investment on customers will hold the winning hand.

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