How Location Impacts Sales and Payment Methods

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As technology evolves along with consumers’ shopping patterns, we are seeing concurrent changes in the ways people prefer to pay for the goods and services they buy. In order to remain profitable, it is in the best interest of entrepreneurs to remain knowledgeable about current trends.

Voice Payments

Major players, including Amazon and Google, have taken consumers by storm with their virtual assistants. It is becoming ever more common to check the time or weather, make a call, or schedule a shared ride via Amazon Echo or Google Assistant. As people become increasingly comfortable with this technology, they are tending to branch out. As a result, many are now doing their banking and shopping via voice commands as well.

In addition, consumers are embracing the so-called “internet of things” (IoT). This refers to all of the various pieces of technology in a person’s daily life that are controlled via the internet on the consumer’s home network. In recent years, broadband internet connections have become both cheaper and more prevalent. Technology costs have dropped while more and more devices are being designed to connect to Wi-Fi. Thermostats, home security, and music systems are just the beginning of the potential this technology possesses. By some estimates, as many as 26 billion devices will be connected to the IoT. That offers a great deal of potential for eager entrepreneurs and inventors.

Finally, savvy online retailers who understand that ecommerce is a round-the-clock proposition are incorporating Chatbots into their business structure. With the “help” of these automated assistants, customers’ questions can be answered or, at the very least, triaged to a human being who can address them in a timely manner. In many cases, Chatbots can remove the obstacles that are keeping a buyer from consummating their purchase. They can also suggest related products, setting the stage for additional sales in the future.

Mobile Payments

Now that smartphones seem to be in the hands of virtually every man, woman, and child, it behooves smart business owners to become as mobile-friendly as possible. That means optimizing their websites to play nicely with phones and tablets as well as harnessing the unique features that these devices bring.

By their very nature, phones travel with their owners. Businesses can profit from this by using location-based marketing strategies. When a loyal customer comes within a certain radius of a retail store,  for instance, they can be presented with an enticement that will bring them in and set the stage for a purchase. Furthermore, mobile technology lends itself to loyalty programs. No longer do customers need to contend with a pocket filled with miscellaneous certificates and cards when everything can be stored in their digital wallet. Considering that mobile payments are expected to skyrocket over six-fold in the next few years, it makes sense for businesses to remain on the cutting competitive edge by instituting loyalty and discount programs as soon as possible.
Hand-held technology is also revolutionizing the ways that consumers find the products they want. With just a few taps, they can search for what they want based on location or price. For business owners, this makes it even more important to market to their strengths. Brick-and-mortar stores that must incorporate overhead costs into their prices can compensate by playing to their strengths. If they cannot offer the lowest price point, they can focus instead on touting their premium customer service and attention to ongoing interpersonal relationships and product maintenance.

Mobile Wallets

All of the major digital companies, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Android, have jumped on the mobile wallet bandwagon – and for good reason. By taking just a few minutes to input their credit and gift card information into the apps on their mobile phones, consumers can leave their cash and plastic cards at home. That’s because more and more retailers are accepting NFC or contactless payments . Because they are both convenient and secure, this is a trend that is destined to expand in the coming years.

Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrency

Although Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have existed for several years now, customers were initially slow to accept them. However, these payment methods have moved from the realm of rich technocrats into the general population now that it is possible to easily convert them into standard currency. Thanks to physical devices such as Flip, this process can even take place at the cash registers of brick-and-mortar retailers. As a result, forward-looking ecommerce entrepreneurs have begun to accept Bitcoin and other similar currencies on their websites. Now that both consumers and retailers are more at ease with the security and stability of these innovative payments that bypass the strictures of commercial banks, they are able to offer them as a reliable payment alternative.

Biometric Authentication

Although there are billions of people in this world, each person possesses biological and behavioral characteristics that make them unique and identifiable. With this fact in mind, biometrics are being refined as a way to verify identities for all types of reasons.

Fingerprints have long been used to solve crimes, but biometrics don’t stop there. Today’s biometric authentication can not only examine fingerprints but also retinas, ears, faces, gait, odor, voices, and signatures. In all of these cases, the goal is to protect the security of the consumer and the transaction. Although identity theft and fraud will never be totally eliminated from the commercial landscape, strategies such as biometric authentication can drastically reduce the financial and emotional damage these crimes do to merchants and consumers alike.