The ‘shopping experience’ on the high street has changed immensely in the last couple of decades and with this change has come challenges for retailers. Vincent Reboul, managing director of Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, speaks exclusively to WatchPro about these challenges.
WatchPro: How much do you think retail has changed in the last 10 years?
Vincent Reboul: The world of retail has changed enormously over the last 10 years. The whole experience is now much more interactive than ever before.
Digital and in-store customer experience are blurring. Shoppers are more knowledgeable now, doing their own research before buying. This means that the need to go to a store for advice is reduced, and therefore the need to make retailers’ deals and products visible is increased.
This shift has meant that the very definition of a ‘great retail experience’ is also completely different.
The desired end result remains the same – the customer wants to complete the process knowing that they’ve gotten the best product and the best deal for them. But, rather than shoppers wanting the full and undivided attention of a salesperson to help them get there, they’re now much more comfortable looking after themselves. The role of the retailer is now to ensure that the same flawless experience is possible in a self-service format, such as with in-store kiosks or transactional websites.
When it comes to getting the best deal, there’s also a growing trend of customers wanting to utilise point-of-sale finance more and more – both online and in stores. Figures show that online spending is increasing around 10% per year in the UK and so is point-of-sale finance. In my view, there’s still a large number of retailers who haven’t really taken advantage of point-of-sale finance to help them with their business.
WP: What new challenges do retailers face in light of these changes?
VR: The more hands-off approach presents a huge challenge for retailers, as they need to provide the same great experience with less control. They need to find smarter ways to make their products and deals known to existing and potential customers.
Not only do they have to compete with the rest of the market when it comes to improving their customer experience, but they also need to have the resource to quickly and efficiently deal with any issues that may arise, which doesn’t come cheap or easy.
Another key challenge for some retailers is around the perceived barriers to offering POS finance and understanding the difference it can actually make to your business.
Large retailers understand it already and have being incorporating POS finance into their omni-channel models for some time now, however with smaller businesses – whether they’re offline, online or both – the barrier is more around awareness of how they can leverage all the features and capabilities of POS finance.
WP: How does Hitachi Capital Finance help retailers improve their offering to customers?
VR: With the ever-growing competition and customer behaviours changing, it’s more important than ever for retailers to ensure they’re giving their customers what they need, when they need it and making it easy and fast. That way they can build a lasting relationship based on trust.
Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance plays an important part in this ecosystem by helping retailers to build a strong customer relationship by offering POS finance solutions that are quick, easy and affordable, regardless of channel.
Our research* shows that retailers who leverage payment technology to offer point of sale finance, both in store and online, see improved revenue and long-term brand value.
In fact, over 80% of consumers said the offer of finance heavily influenced their decision to buy from that specific retailer. And retailers who don’t offer finance risk losing nearly 44% of customers.
Over a quarter (26%) said they would not purchase at all or would buy from another retailer, and only 33% said they would have bought the same day via cash or card instead.
Offering POS finance can also help you increase your volume of business, with 53% of consumers admitting that they spent more due to the offer of finance – 67% for the jewellery industry.
WP: How easy is it to integrate Hitachi Capital Finance’s products both online and in store?
VR: Our finance solutions couldn’t be easier to get up and running across all channels. Our technology makes it quick and simple, whether you’re looking for an out of the box solution or something more tailored to suit your business needs.
We know that some businesses will have a very busy road map in terms of integration which may pose a challenge. Our leading–edge technology enables us to on-board new retailers easily, integrating with your existing infrastructures seamlessly, making finance applications quicker and easier than ever before.
Our whole consumer finance business is based in a single office in Leeds, meaning all the support you’ll need – from underwriting to IT – is on hand. We believe in ‘true’ relationships with retailers, with a dedicated Strategic Relationship Manager, issues are solved and improvements are made as and when you need them. We also provide a comprehensive suite of Management Information and data for retailers to learn about their customers and business performance.
WP: What does the next 10 years hold for retail (both online and on the high street) and how will Hitachi Capital Finance adapt to keep its services and products relevant?
VR: The next 10 years will see continued focus on omni-channel and in particular the online and mobile channels. Another likely trend is contextual commerce where customers will be able to purchase directly from social platforms, emails, texts, chats, without going to the retailers site.
Tomorrow’s consumers won’t care about how they’re interacting with a retailer. They’ll want the same great experience regardless, and they’ll want to be able to jump from one channel to the next at will with the retailer knowing just the right amount of information about them – not too little, not too much.
Our solutions make this seamless experience easy – from online to in-store, and even over the phone or in a customer’s home. Whatever your way of working, we can help.