The world’s biggest mobile phone event, Mobile World Congress, is underway this week in a surprisingly snowy Barcelona and there have been some interesting things on show for retailers.
Despite its size, there emphasis is still very much on mobile tech and the whole thing is a bit self-congratulatory – all the while most people are struggling to get 4G and make phone calls.
But what has been in it for retailers?
Pizza Hut diners will save time
Pizza Hut was at the show announcing that it will roll out Mastercard’s Qkr! with Masterpass into its UK restaurants from March 19th. Diners at Pizza Hut restaurants across the UK will be able to pay through their mobile without having to ask a waiter for the bill, saving them 12 minutes on average.
The app uses Masterpass, a global online payment service that speeds up the checkout process without requiring consumers to enter their financial and shipping information at every new shop or business.
Keith Frimley, IT Director at Pizza Hut Restaurants said: “Rolling out Qkr is a fantastic opportunity for us to continue the innovation journey we are on as a brand. Over the last six years we have invested over £60m in transforming our restaurants and menu, and this allows us to continue to improve the service and experience we offer our guests as well as embracing technology, which has become so central to modern culture.”
Mastercard uses Facebook Messenger to help small businesses go digital
Mastercard also announced that it will use Facebook Messenger to provide technology to small businesses in Africa and Asia to drive affordable acceptance of electronic and mobile payments. Access to digital payments will help these businesses expand to new markets, and unlock financial services and products that enables them to grow their livelihoods.
This Messenger experience will launch in Nigeria, where Mastercard will pilot a new Masterpass QR bot to help business owners move beyond cash transactions to accepting QR payments. Ecobank and Zenith Bank will support this inaugural programme. The pilot in Nigeria is the beginning of a larger plan by the two companies to include more businesses into the digital economy.
According to research done by The Fletcher School and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, of the $301 billion of funds flows from consumers to businesses in Nigeria, 98 percent is still based on cash.
“Every business owner is looking for ways to increase sales and draw new customers into their stores. By offering QR-based digital payments, smaller retailers can achieve these goals and create greater customer stickiness with little to no investment beyond the phone they already have,” said Jorn Lambert, executive vice president, Digital Channels and Regions, Mastercard. “Masterpass QR opens up new commerce channels for these merchants and enables them to create auditable transaction records. These advances open doors to other financial tools and products such as loans to drive added business growth.”
Amazon Go-type solution for stores of all sizes
Tech company AiFi announced the launch of an Amazon Go-type solution for stores of all sizes. From small mom-and-pop shops to huge 50,000 square foot-plus mega retailers, AiFi’s innovative AI technology, sensor and camera networks and seamless system integration don’t require major retrofitting or expense.
"Consumers and businesses alike want to be efficient and with a checkout-free store, consumers have an incredible shopping experience. Because our technology is massively scalable, tens of thousands of stores worldwide can become a ‘grab and go’ type of retailer," said Steve Gu, CEO, AiFi. "The shopping experience now demonstrated and widely promoted by Amazon is just the tiniest taste of what the AiFi technology will do for retailers -- with shops that range from tiny to huge. Our pilot will roll out in one very large store, orders of magnitude bigger than the Amazon Go store, at the end of this year, with many more large stores to follow so thousands of consumers will experience the delight of no longer standing in long and tedious checkout lines."
Selling from message
Technology company Ingenico was at Mobile World Congress 2018 rolling out a number of cool things, but one that piqued our interest was the ability to let retailers sell directly from messaging apps. According to the company, OTT messaging apps are where consumers are – especially the younger ones – and to target them, retailers need to be there too. However, the usual way of doing it – sending a message to them and hoping they’ll click a link isn’t working – so the company is offering the ability to sell from the message.
Friction to sales comes from taking people out of the experience they are in and trying to get them to engage on the retailers terms, says the company. This increasingly doesn’t work.
Ingenico can now plug into the messaging apps and the retailers CRM and other systems and facilitate sales from the message.
It lauched at the show and there are rumoured to be two major retailers poised to go live. Watch this space.
Sticking with Ingenico, it has launched Axium at the show, its next-generation point-of-sale platform designed with acquirers’ clients in mind. It gives access to a complete cloud ecosystem for commerce, which builds on the open Android and Ingenico’s Telium Tetra operating systems to converge business and payment.
Value has extended beyond payment acceptance and ECR devices, and now lies in bringing business solutions to merchants. This is what Axium, Ingenico’s convergence platform, achieves for all stakeholders in the commerce ecosystem. Ingenico partners with ECR vendors to provide the most comprehensive offer on the small merchant market, which includes: store, employee and stock management; checkout, loyalty, accounting services. Ingenico combines them with remote terminal support and reporting, already available on its Telium Tetra platform.
“With Axium, our open Android platform offering the convergence of all merchant services. Our innovations presented at MWC illustrate our commitment to building an ecosystem in which acquirers can deliver more value to merchants,” said Patrice Le Marre, Executive Vice President, Banks & Acquirers Business Unit, Ingenico Group.
Rambus boosts loyalty
Rambus, a security specialist, was at the show showing just how branched out it now is. And one of the more interesting things it has launched out here in Barcelona is a really cool unified payments-cum-loyalty play, which allows retailers to build self scanning apps that shoppers use to scan as they go and then a secure payment process that not only let’s them play, but also lets them redeem loyalty points against that purchase.
The system is set up to look and feel like a game – a small button lets the user choose the price-to-loyalty points ration they want to pay with and, click, it happens.
The tech also allows retailers to know when a loyal shopper enters the shop and can ping them points or offers there and then.
To my mind this is the sort of thing that shops are desperately in need of and this tech makes it possible.
So that is just a taste of some of the retail flavoured things we saw out in Barcelona. In some ways it paints a great picture of what is to come, in others I leave as I always do wishing and hoping that all that I have seen will come to pass one day.
IMAGE Kārlis Dambrāns at