Smarter experiences for both merchants and shoppers

13 October 2021

The evolution of shopping has always moved in one direction: towards greater convenience. Gradually, merchants have developed new methods of delivering additional value to their customers, hoping to grow brand loyalty and drive more sales. These forms of added value – concepts like loyalty programmes, digital receipts or customized recommendations – are increasingly being judged by customers on their convenience and overall user experience. The Link spoke to Dev Subrata, Founder and CEO of tech company and SCC member Fidel API, about how to upgrade concepts like loyalty programmes and the future of the shopping experience.

“Consumers today have endless options and want immediate satisfaction. That means it’s more important than ever for brands to prioritise the customer experience and create deeper, more personalised and responsive engagements to generate initial interest and hold a customer’s attention,” says Dev Subrata, Founder and CEO of Fidel API.

Traditionally, users have had to carry loyalty cards or agree to their inboxes being flooded with newsletters and offers to receive rewards. Digital receipts are often encumbered with physical sign-up processes at checkout. Merchants have had no simple means of merging their online and offline customer views, resulting in disjointed pictures of their customer base. “These sorts of issues make for a far less convincing experience. They don’t win over customers – rather they add friction and cost excessive time and resources to build. Simply, achieving the right level of convenience and customisation in a digital retail experience hinges on one thing; accurate, consistent access to transaction data.“

Standing out from the crowd
Multiple studies conducted on the psychology of shopping show the power of personalisation to cultivate engaged customers. For example, a study by Epsilon indicated that 80% of consumers are more likely to make purchases when brands offer personalised experiences. “Customers today are inundated with more and more brand messages, making it more important than ever to stand out in such a crowded environment,” explains Dev.
“By putting the data collected by the loyalty programmes to use in real-time, engagements can be personalised or tailored to someone’s individual behaviours, offering a much better user experience.“

With a connection to transaction data, a merchant could, for example, link previous purchases to one made in-store and deliver a specific offer to a customer, in real-time. Not only does this engage a customer during a payment event, but it’s far more likely to grow affinity to the brand and encourage repeat purchases. No barcode scanning, no loose loyalty cards, no additional steps.

All in one place
As a customer, one thing you’ll likely carry with you when shopping is your payment card. With API technology – best described as a connectivity layer, handling the complexity of a specific process – Fidel APIs are able to facilitate the one-time enrolment of a specific card to a merchant’s programme and match it to any payment made with that merchant post-enrolment. This makes it possible to spot a transaction at the tap of a card. Over on the merchant side, all spend can be attributed accurately to a card, whether online or in-store, producing a single customer view.
“We offer a suite of financial infrastructure APIs that allow developers to register experiences at the same moment as the payment card is swiped, dipped, tapped, or typed. Our tools are transforming how merchants and users interact, by powering loyalty and rewards programmes and revolutionising processes from reimbursements to expense management.”

In other words, Fidel creates a digital connection between the merchant and the credit card, working with companies like Google Pay and British Airways on one side, and card networks – Visa, Mastercard and American Express – on the other.

Dev believes that the services made possible by this technology will not only lead to a better customer experience, but also to increased sales. According to Dev himself, the most efficient way to recruit a customer to any retail programme is to make it easy. If the enrolment threshold is too high, customers typically lose interest quickly. The customer might feel that the programme benefits are not worth the hassle. By providing the ability to engage a user during a payment event, with no extra steps, a range of new additional value-adds can be passed onto customers by merchants. It’s Dev’s hope that as engagement increases, so will the quantity of data that can be used to continue building a smarter, sleeker and more holistic experiences for both merchants and customers.

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