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Retail’s omnichannel future is revolutionising all order-to-cash processes

Apple’s recent World-Wide Developers Conference at the beginning of June contained many announcements about new features for Apple’s operating systems and Apps, etc. There were many other announcements about other features and technologies that Apple will use in the future. Analysts are just beginning to put these together to get a picture of how Apple sees the future of retailing in the High Street and on-line.

Omnichannel retailing

Omnichannel customers use whatever channel - shop, Internet shopping, mobile ordering and purchasing - is most convenient at the time AND they expect to be able to start a purchase on one channel, e.g. in a shop, and complete it on another, e.g. mobile, seamlessly swapping between channels. Already the top global retailers have transformed their in-store, mobile and e-commerce channels, as well as supply chains, merchandising and marketing for omnichannel customers. 

Surveys in USA consumers show that already:

  • 79% of smartphone owners use their device to shop
  • 60% check prices while they are in the shops and purchase items from online retailers if they find a better price elsewhere
  • 57% expect brick-&-mortar retailers to offer them discount coupons via smartphone.

           (Source: Aprimo, Showrooming).

Apple’s plans

Jonny Evans, an independent journalist/blogger and author of Computerworld's AppleHolic blog, has put together the many Apple announcements at WWDC and previously, to form a picture of the future of retailing that Apple is planning, see. They are not alone in these sort of plans, several other technology suppliers have similar plans. The future of retailing is becoming clearer. The new versions of the Apple’s operating systems - Mac OS10 Yosemite and iOS8 - will be available in September/October.

Evan’s highlighted how Apple’s iOS 8 (for the iPhone and the iPad) operating system will provide the following features:

  • users will be able to scan your credit card using Safari (Apple’s Internet browser) in order to pay
  • the location-sensing features mean apps from retailers that you choose to carry on iPone/iPad device will be able to send you Notifications when you're near a high street store to give offers to entice users into the store
  • Passbook App to store retailers’ digital discount coupons
  • the in-building mapping service (Apple’s is called iBeacon) installed inside retailer’s stores will be able to give special offers as customers wander around the store, see example of how this technology works

The new versions of Apple Mac operating systems - OS10 Yosemite and iOS8 - will have two vital new features which will complete the omnichannel experience: Continuity and Handover. This new functionality employs a series of technologies to allow users to begin a task on one device, like an iPhone, continue it on another, like a Mac, and then finish it on the original device or even on a third or fourth device like an iPad or another Mac.

Another important ingredient is that Apple, with their database of 800+ million active payment cards, are expected to offer a new mobile payments service, using their fingerprint recognition technology, in the next 12 months. (Probabaly only Google and, possibly, Facebook will be able to do this as well.)

Retailer payment systems strategy

Most retailers will have to move to some form of omnichannel delivery of their products and service. The only issue is how and when to collect payment, however, it is already clear that the use of cash will decline. Already, the British Retail Consortium has raised concerns about the increase cost of collecting payment by cards (they estimate cash costs 1.29p/transaction compared to 40.93p for credit cards). Apple’s payment system will not be cheap, they never are. App developers are charged some 30% of their revenue to place an App on the store. Charges for the new Apple payment system won’t be at that level, but they will be ad valorum (%) based and at the top end of what the market is used to.

CTMfile take: Omnichannel retailing is coming fast and will mean that retailers will have to accept more transactions by non-cash payment methods. Retailers and, indeed all businesses will need to work out what is the cheapest method of payment collection and how to encourage payment by this method. Otherwise, just accepting what Apple plans to charge will be unnecessarily expensive.

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