Five Things (plus a bonus tip) Retailers Need to Know This Holiday Season

It's official. The holiday season is upon us.  Many nationwide retailers such as drug stores and grocery stores have already converted their event card sections to holiday wrapping and greeting card boxes.  Holiday music is being piped through streaming media systems.  Holiday items are shipping and displays are being constructed by the merchandising team.

Winter Sale Image

As retailers prepare for what we hope will be a prosperous season, here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Don't go cashless.
Certain types of niche retailers, generally in urban areas, have begun to experiment with a cashless point-of-sales, thereby limiting payments methods to cards or ditigal wallets.  And it's an urban legend to think cashless is a good idea.  Establishments such as Sweetgreen, Argo Tea and others that espouse a "cashless society" are going against the grain or the majority of Americans. Approximately 61 percent of U.S. consumers get upset when establishments don't accept cash, regardless of payments preferences, according to the findings of our 2017 Health of Cash Study.  Plus, 89 percent like having the ability to pay with a variety of payment methods.

Going cashless may also end up being illegal in some large markets.  A Chicago alderman submitted an ordinance last month that would ban businesses that don’t accept cash.  He has been joined by a second alderman.  They consider the “no cash” policy to be a "fair and equal access.

2. Make cash accessible.
Consumers are going to be extra busy during the shopping season and when a store can help the consumer make their shopping go faster – such as by having an in-store ATM - everybody wins. Convenience stores and drug stores in particular are realizing even more benefits of having an ATM, according to a study sponsored by Cardtronics and conducted earlier this year by Scansion, an independent market research company. When an ATM is present, the average spend in a drug store doubles from $17.76 to $36.65.

An in-store ATM can also provide additional revenue for the store.  In 2016, ATMs generated an average $860 a month - more than $10,320 annually - at convenience store firms of 11-50 locations, according to a survey by the National Asssociation of Convenience Stores.  The same survey revealed that convenience store firms considered best at executing in-store offers and attracing foot traffice garnered monthly ATM revenue of $982, or $11,784 annually.  Many retailers also arrange items in eye-catching displays near their machine, which generates sales.

3. Support Emerging and Established Payment Methods.
This advice comes from a September 2017 report by payment processing firm Paysafe, which found that contrary to popular belief, established payment methods such as cash and checks are still widely used.  For example, Paysafe found that 50 percent of U.S. consumers had written a check in the past month, compared with 31 percent who used a mobile wallet and 14 percent who had used a cryptocurrency. Similarly, 40 percent of Canadian consumers wrote a check in the past month and only 16 percent used a mobile wallet, while the proportions for the UK were 30 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

Other findings showed that US consumers carry an average of $50 in their wallet at any given time. “This suggests that cash remains a familiar and reliable payment option for many people, despite the convenience offered by newer alternatives such as contactless cards and mobile payments,” said a article about the Paysafe study.

4. Ensure the safety and security of transaction data.
Holiday shopping money should be safe, secure and especially private. It’s hard to hide a surprise gift when it shows up as a transaction in the Amex statement.  And when it comes to safety, security and privacy, consumers find cash to be the leading payment choice, our 2017 Health of Cash Study found.

Retailers large and small need to be extra diligent regarding the protection of all data. In an open letter to the Wall Street Journal and Politico, the National Retail Federation said that while retail accounts for only 5 percent of data breaches, “data thefts committed against retailers receive the most attention because retail stores are names consumers know and places where they shop every day. Retailers care about cybersecurity because they are committed to combating this criminal threat to their customers and the industry.” An independent store’s livelihood depends on a lot of customer trust, regardless of the type of payment method that customer prefers.

5. The independent brick-and-mortar retailer can compete with its online mega counterparts.
Independent and niche retailers such as florists and artisanal bakers in the UK are experiencing a surge in business due to the use of technology, according to data from payment processor Worldpay.   In a study published in August 2017, small and independent stores saw year-on-year growth of up to 8 percent, a trend attributed to allowing customers to browse and purchase online as well as in-store.  On the other hand, their in store-shopping only peers saw revenues shrink in the same period.

By offering the best of both worlds – from in-store sampling or trying on, to browsing online or via an app and then in-store pick up – retailers of all sizes can maximize their sales and build consumer loyalty.

Bonus Tip:  Promote Withdraw Cash Wednesday
Withdraw Cash Wednesday LogoMake sure your customers know they have a choice in how they pay for purchases in your establishment, and let them know what the benefits can be to them for using cash.  On November 22 and December 20, ATM manufacturers, deployers, financial institutions, and payments processors will be marking Withdraw Cash Wednesday, of which Cardtronics and Allpoint Network are major sponsors.  Click here to learn more about how retailers can participate in Withdraw Cash Wednesday.

Tom Pierce
Chief Marketing Officer 

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