Each Friday, Points North gives a senior media figure a platform to air their views on a topical or relevant issue.
This week it’s Hedley Aylott, co-founder and CEO of Summit. After the recent launch of Apple Pay, he argues that a consistent brand experience in-store and online is now more important than ever.
Mobile payment isn’t a spectacularly new concept. Retailers and restaurants have offered consumers the option to pay via an app for a while and contactless payment is an option already available at many shops and eateries.
However, there was a media storm when Apple Pay was launched in the UK on July 14th. This is one of the reasons brands and banks have jumped on board with the scheme; Apple’s marketing machine is powerful and its brand is extremely attractive.
When you look more closely at how retailers accommodate the technology, it makes even more sense. The process is roughly the same as contactless credit or debit card transactions so it doesn’t carry a swathe of investment with it.
For customers, it offers yet another strand to their path to purchase, making it easier to buy. For brands and retailers, it offers an intelligent marriage of the online and offline customer experience.
Consumers, who own an iPhone 6s or an Apple Watch will be able to pay for services like Uber and Ocado in apps through Apple Pay, which allows users to select card and authorises payment through a fingerprint scan. They will also go through the same process when they’re at the till.
Before now these were two very different experiences: face-to-face, you would present your card and PIN, and online, you typed in your credit card details. But now they are one and the same.
This means that having a consistent brand experience in-store and online is more important than ever. Argos, for example, is a true changemaker in this area. The retailer, which last week posted a record breaking £1bn in UK mobile sales, ensures digital and physical experiences are connected throughout the customer journey. 90% of purchases touch a store at some stage, and in-store purchases connect customers to the digital experience with tablets throughout the store.
This online and offline mix extends across its retail management – its hub and spoke distribution network sees a larger store acting as a mini-distribution centre to five nearby stores, as well as to a customer’s home following an online order.
Apple Pay is a catalyst for change across the retail industry. The customer journey is evolving rapidly, and retailers need to ensure that they keep up.
In order to do so, they must look inwards, at those channel silos that have been developed over decades – and remove them. Companies need to restructure around the customer, with a single view of the customer and stock across all channels. Those that don’t will be left behind.
Hedley Aylott is co-founder and CEO of Summit