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Why data-commerce is the next strategic win

Chris Kronenthal, President & CTO at FreedomPay

The challenges experienced over the last 12 months are creating new opportunities for tech-investment as hospitality organisations re-evaluate what’s really important. Underpinning this is the recognition that better use of data-commerce is now vital to maintain operations, respond to rapid change, and support growth.

Even prior to the COVID pandemic, hospitality leaders were hungry for richer, real-time data to help them identify customer trends and anticipate needs. During 2020, on-going digital investments helped many businesses pivot fast and respond to the constraints of lockdown on their businesses and supply chains.

As restrictions ease, hospitality brands are having to balance more demanding practices with a need to maintain profit, as well as working even harder to win customers back into their physical outlets, venues, and facilities.

In 2021, being able to harness the power of data to pinpoint trends, optimise loyalty, personalise offers and ensure efficient real-time analysis and inventory control is more important than ever.

Ability to harness transaction data is a key differentiator.

With the advent of tokenisation, it is now possible to use real-time transactional data to track, analyse and map customer trends in multiple channels and across the hospitality ecosystem - without compromising data or security.

With more consumers than ever abandoning cash and switching to e-payments including contactless and mobile payments, the ability to really see and predict what’s happening, why and when, is now a reality that is helping hospitality businesses to be more competitive and profitable.

And this has not gone unnoticed. A recent report commissioned by FreedomPay and J.P. Morgan reveals that 44% of retail and hospitality leaders perceive data value has become more important in the past 12 months. At the same time, it shows that 38% are now looking to combine data sources. This means that smashing data silos and encouraging better sharing and flow of information from front to back-end operations is now central to investment strategies.

There are still challenges to be overcome.

Yet one in four (25%) feel that their current use of customer data is not effective and the same number face major issues just getting the most out of existing systems. Huge data lags in legacy platforms, and fragmented and disparate systems with patchwork processes and silos are holding them back and making it difficult to train and support employees on new technology.

A big issue for many is how to use digital downstream i.e. capturing data in digital channels and using it to support brick-and-mortar customer touchpoints. Despite most businesses claiming to be multi-channel, the reality is that many physical and virtual platforms are not yet fully integrated and valuable data is trapped in silos, preventing operational transparency and a 360-degree view of customers and their journeys.

Innovation is opening up new POS opportunities.

Although hospitality services have been enhanced by digital services and mobile apps – especially for reservations, bookings, remote and at table ordering - most organisations are still dependent on point of sale/interaction devices to collect data and create new customer-facing experiences.

For larger hospitality organisations payments have to adapt and integrate quickly with a multitude of end-points that are part of a multi-channel footprint. Payment platforms may also have to work in a unified way across different portfolio brands. The challenge is how to integrate customer needs and digital solutions, within their POS estates.

Some hotels, entertainment and event groups and leisure complexes have addressed this using innovative ‘book, buy and pay’ solutions such as mobile apps, QR codes, contactless or pre-loaded value wristbands. These can offer a safer, faster more convenient way for guests to access and pay for activities, where speed is important or in locations where they don’t want to risk taking their card - pools, spas, rides, festivals, conferences, shows, etc.

Having access to real time data democratises decision making and aids personalisation.

Having a unified and connected data commerce platform is about more than payments innovation, it also enables centralised functions to be more holistic and P&L centres and franchises to have more control by allowing transaction data to be linked to everything from marketing to stock and inventory planning.

Additionally, it provides new ways to bring customer loyalty into every interaction and loading it with more targeted and personalised incentives that can be accessed in every channel for ‘follow-me’ rewards.

It also allows sharing with third parties so that ecosystems can flourish. As industries have to unite to drive post-COVID demand and accelerate recovery, we will see more friendly coopetition as brands exploit synergies to build better end-to-end experiences and loyalty loops for the consumer. Those that are already sold into the benefits of data commerce will be best placed to win a slice of the opportunities that arise.

Discover more about FreedomPay’s global commerce platform here.

All data in this article is taken from the FreedomPay & J.P. Morgan survey report: PREPARING FOR THE RETURN OF DEMAND How America’s Retail & Hospitality Elite Tackle Disruption with New Commerce Investment. Download the report here.


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