Markus Eichinger, EVP Group Strategy at Wirecard: Now accepting credit cards and email addresses: why personal data has become currency
December 2019 by Marc Jacob
Retail experiences are constantly changing, with shoppers using an ever-growing list of methods to find, buy and collect products. From paying with cash to biometric authentication, consumers have never had so much choice in how to complete purchases. But a recent study from Wirecard has revealed that not only do physical stores still have a big part to play in the retail landscape, there are also multiple ways to complete transactions – with cashless payments being increasingly prominent.
However, it isn’t just hard-earned money that people are prepared to part with to ensure they can afford goods. Personal data – such as email addresses and telephone numbers – also now help shoppers get closer to purchasing products. In fact, we’re at the dawn of a new global currency. Wirecard research has also discovered that more than three-quarters of consumers would be willing to hand over their personal information to both physical (79%) and online (76%) stores in exchange for discounts.
Although sensitive, sharing personal information benefits both parties as it empowers merchants to learn more about their customers and how best to serve them, while giving consumers valued money off. A 10% discount code, for instance, is deemed by many retailers to be a very worthwhile investment to gain access to customer data.
Passwords mean prizes
Offering in-store and online discounts through sign up forms is one of the most common ways retailers attempt to capture consumer data. In doing so, personal information becomes not only a means to communicate with a retailer – it becomes its own currency. In modern retail, data carries tremendous value as being able to target consumers with personalised offers has the potential to boost click-throughs by 139%.
Furthermore, more than two-thirds (70%) of consumers say they actually still prefer making purchases in retail outlets, compared to 32% who do the majority of their shopping on mobile sites and apps. With this in mind, it is essential that all merchants are able to merge the convenience of online retail at home with the draw of physical stores. By doing so, data capturing does not only become more straight forward but the data itself can be leveraged much more effectively to communicate with customers.
Registration forms, for instance, can be rolled out both physically and digitally, with many merchants now also opting to send receipts or invoices via email. Once forms are completed – in-store or online – vouchers are passed on to consumers and merchants are handed personal information. This approach makes the entire shopping experience easier for consumers, and with that convenience comes trust. Having been recognised and rewarded for passing over personal information, shoppers are much more inclined to do so again.
Savings and security
Along with helping customers save money on purchases, personal information plays an important role in protecting payments. It not only works as currency, but also as access to payment options, which are constantly growing. Shoppers are becoming savvier about how they safeguard their money, regardless of where or how they buy goods, so personal information and authentication is intrinsic to keeping funds secure.
Times are changing with both consumers and payment providers preparing for biometric solutions. Three in every five consumers (60%) now say they would be interested in using biometric data to make online purchases and like a lot in modern retail, the only way to keep improving is to keep up with shoppers’ demands.
This desire for biometrics is linked to payment security and this is even more important in an era in which digital payments have become dominant in the purchasing process. Over 90% of consumers use cashless payment methods, both online and in-store. While contactless payment options grow in popularity – 37% of shoppers place them in their top three preferred cashless payment methods – authenticated smaller in-store transactions are still a choice rather than a necessity. All in-store purchases can be authenticated via personal data, such as PIN codes or smartphone biometrics, rather than relying on contactless cards.
Meanwhile, online purchases are often reliant on personal information that needs to be remembered, like passwords and codes. The good news for shoppers and merchants is that there is a variety of secure payments methods available, as nearly all cashless payments can be authenticated. Responsibility lies on both sides, with an onus on consumers to keep their authentication details private and retailers to meet shoppers’ payment needs.
Freedom of choice
Modern shoppers are not only bargain hunting; they also want to complete purchases conveniently. From attaining discount vouchers to paying securely, consumers are becoming more accustomed to sharing their personal information in retail environments. Data can also be used through a wide range of channels, and this is important for the majority of shoppers who either research the products they want to purchase in-store before buying online afterwards (88%) or vice versa (93%).
Today, the combination of digital and in-store retail offers consumers more choice over where, when and how they buy – with most now seeking a unified commerce experience. Despite the growth of e-commerce, physical stores still remain relevant, but how merchants interact with customers has changed and become essential to establishing retail success.
Retailers and brands that recognise the demand for choice and engage with consumers wherever, whenever and however they want to shop will be the ones to benefit from this new currency of personal data. It is an exciting time for both merchants and shoppers, with only more sophisticated, secure and convenient retail experiences yet to come.