Thursday, March 20, 2008

Consumers ready to embrace new technologies

According to a new report by Visa Europe, the emphasis placed by European consumers on choice, convenience and flexibility in the shopping experience presents an interesting opportunity for retailers to capitalize on the power of technology and innovation.

Compiled from extensive consumer research carried out by Visa Europe in Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and the UK in 2006 and 2007, the Visa Europe Consumer Insights Report shows that European consumers expect shopping to be stress-free and not add to the strain of their often hectic daily lives. Not only do they face increasing demands on their time, the stress of modern living result in many people finding it difficult to manage their money.

Given these pressures, consumers now value everyday, small pleasures above all else and choose retailers who recognize and respond to their developing needs. Shorter queues, multi-channel retailing, polite customer service as well as being able to offer a range of payment options now make up basic consumer expectations of the shopping experience.

Principal findings from the Visa Europe Consumer Insights Report for retailers include:

--Offering a full range of payment systems gives consumers choice – whilst cash may be the preferred payment option in some parts of Europe, cards are increasingly the European consumer’s choice and consumers are now annoyed by card phobic retailers as cash payments are often more time consuming and may reduce the ability to maintain control of expenditure

--Chip and PIN has been an important development which has brought benefits to retailers and consumers alike. Retailers can expect a host of new and exciting advancements only possible because of chip and PIN. These include contactless payments, prepaid cards, multi-application cards, in-store instant issuance and mobile payments.

--A multi-channel approach is key – retailers need to consider the benefits of all types of retail format - online, bricks and mortar and self-service kiosks and invest in the appropriate payment technology to ensure consumers can transact safely in every type of situation. This includes embracing security initiatives like ‘dynamic passcode authentication’ and accepting contactless payments.

The Consumer Insights Report 2 2008 follows on from Visa’s first Consumer Insights Report: ‘Understanding Consumers Everyday’ released in the UK in June 2006. It is based on a selection of research projects undertaken by Visa in 2006 and 2007.

Key consumer trends identified in the report include:

--We love to shop: 69% of consumers in Poland and 75% of people in Greece love to shop

--We love the occasional treat: 69% of Germans who say they are “very happy” and their lives “couldn’t be better” treat themselves at least once a week

--Everyday small pleasures really count: 73% of Italians said a smile brightened their day

--Not enough time: In Poland consumers say they are often unable to spend their time doing things that really makes them happy

--Speed and convenience count: Around 50% of Germans say queuing is the most annoying part of shopping

--Online and around the clock: 78% of UK consumers said they loved internet shopping because it allowed them to shop 24/7

--Security matters: 71% of UK consumers say they are more likely to shop online if they felt it to be safe; 70% of Germans say they are most likely to shop online with a retailer they recognize from the high street

--Money management: 70% of Italian consumers are “worried” when they spend their money; £83 billion ‘disappears’ from UK wallets each year

--Payment options: 40% of Germans prefer to pay with their card and would use it more often if it were possible to do so in more shops; 60% of UK adults now choose cards as their preferred payment method

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

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