Cash Use Waning – I don’t carry cash at all, and it seems I’m not alone. A recent report from Visa indicates that the average American carries less than $20 in their wallet. While we have to take that report with a grain of salt given the sponsor, my anecdotal experience of late is that cash use is decreasing. Here in Canada, we recently released new $10 and $5 notes. Other than in my work with retailers, I’ve yet to spend or receive either as change as of yet. Increasingly in fast service food lines I see usage of NFC via PayPass and Paywave. At Starbucks the mobile payment system is incredibly common with over 4 million transactions per week back in April. Tim Hortons recently released updates to their app to allow barcode scanning and NFC payment depending on the device.
From my perspective, electronic payments are looking increasingly convenient over cash for retailers and consumers alike. Less handling of bits of paper and metal and more convenience for both sides. It’s easier for transacting anywhere at any time, and it saves retailers time having to balance and move bits of paper around after hours. Not to mention the fact that it’s harder to skim electronic payments out of a register than a few bits of paper.
While cash seems doomed to decreasing (though not zero) usage, this does not mean that the credit card companies and current payments processors are the only path forward into the future. While Bitcoin is a shaky proposition with its fluctuations, more and more places of business accept it, developers are trying to figure out how to leverage it, and it represents a different way of considering non-cash tendering. Whether it’s a path forward or not, retailers should ensure they keep their systems open to capture any new payment interaction possible and not limit themselves to traditional payment infrastructure.
Target Subscriptions – Target is pushing back on the Amazon juggernaut with Target Subscriptions for new parents to subscribe to constantly replaced consumable items like diapers. This is a great example of a retailer trying something new in a targeted area to test the waters. I think subscriptions represent a real convenience to time starved consumers and a consistent measurable cash flow for retailers. An incredible array of items in various segments are bought on an ongoing basis – razor blades, toothpaste, diapers, yard waste bags, cosmetics, food staples and more. It retailers aren’t considering ways of integrating a subscription service into their businesses, they are missing a sought after commodity – stable revenues through the year. Getting this right by product and mix, and working out delivery could be difficult, but if the combination can be unlocked, the results could be worth it.
Stantt – Stantt is an outfit that is looking to change the status quo on sizing in the men’s shirt business. Instead of providing 4 different sizes of shirts (S, M, L, XL) , Stantt has compiled 3D scanned dataset from a set of men to establish data driven sizing to enable a better fit for a mens shirt. Based on providing 3 data elements, one of 50 sizes will be recommended automatically to ensure correct taper, shoulder, sleeves, and waist. Stantt recently received funding on kickstarter, and hopefully will begin churning out shirts sometime soon.
Whether Stantt succeeds or not, this could be a way of working out the ongoing problems that retailers encounter with online sales and fit. A huge part of the success of online sales is fit – the cost of returns and shipping is enough to kill the profitability of a sale. Any edge to reduce those returns could be a big benefit. The solution also ensures that men avoid the fitting room so many of us avoid. Build to order could also help in the cost of inventory if the process can be made to scale and work quickly enough. It’s a fascinating concept, and worth watching to validate its success.