Florida POS Systems Blog

Point of Sale News and Information

While wish lists are as old as the North Pole’s top executive, their popularity continues to endure. Gift givers rely on them to make the task of finding just the right items more exact. And recipients love them because they are more likely to receive the items they’ve been dreaming of. And they’re a win-win-win for retailers as well, reducing the dreaded post-holiday onslaught of returns.

But what are retailers wishing for their stores this holiday season? We talk to a lot of them, so here are five “sugar plums” dancing in their heads.

Wish #1: Bring shoppers into the store.

Since shoppers spend 90 percent more time visiting a bricks-and-mortar store than they do on a vendor’s website, and the average in-store purchase is higher than online, retailers want to lure more foot traffic this holiday season. Plus, an in-store experience offers the best opportunity to leverage face-to-face engagement and stellar service to wow shoppers and garner their loyalty.

Wish Granted: Unique in-store experiences attract shoppers like children drawn to the aroma of cookies in the oven. Creating a variety of experiences for specific shopper segments with respect to lifestyle and demographics can help retailers not only bring shoppers to the store but effectively manage volume. Another strategy is creating limited time, in-store only promotions early in the season with back-end rewards for revisiting the store in time for holiday gift giving. According to last year’s IBM survey of consumers’ top criteria for choosing where to shop, free in-store pickup is a huge advantage for beckoning shoppers to the store. Shipping costs influenced 83 percent of respondents not to complete an online purchase.

Wish #2: Keep checkout queues short and moving.

The last thing retailers want to do is aggravate in-store shoppers whose baskets are brimming with merchandise by making them wait in long queues. Yet retail reports indicate that getting stuck in a checkout line is one of the biggest frustrations. For time-starved consumers, it’s a huge motivator for shopping online.

Wish Granted: The obvious solution is to schedule ample help to staff additional registers during peak days and times and special events and promotions. However, this can be a challenge due to a shortage of workforce resources. Placing mobile POS devices in the hands of every associate can keep checkout lines moving steadily and wait times to a minimum during unforeseen periods of high-volume traffic. Another solution is unmanned kiosks that shoppers can use to bypass lines altogether.

Wish #3: Have the products shoppers want in stock.

It seems like every year a dearth of the most popular gift items turns congenial shoppers into wrestlers, making for somewhat amusing, and at times disturbing, news. Nothing sends shoppers out the door (and online to Amazon) faster than “out of stock.” In fact, at least two-thirds of in-store shoppers who experience stock-outs take their business elsewhere or do not buy at all. Inventory management is about as challenging as guiding a sleigh full of toys on a foggy night.

Wish Granted: With visibility into a real-time inventory management system that tracks movement across the entire supply chain, store associates can offer shoppers convenient alternatives to walking out the door due to stock-outs. Stores become virtual distribution centers as associates orchestrate product delivery or arrange for store pickup at other locations. For 80 percent of surveyed consumers, it was important to be able to view in-store product availability before making a trip to the store. An automated system also helps prevent out of stocks, generating replenishment when certain thresholds are reached.

Wish #4: Make staff more efficient and effective.

Finding holiday help seems to be more and more difficult as the Boomer workforce continues to melt. And adding temporary staff means extra costs that eat into holiday profits. It’s easy to think that those extra bodies are the only way to offer nice service that prevents shoppers from becoming naughty. Making staff more efficient is a more cost-effective solution than taking on additional personnel.

Wish Granted: Mobile devices enable current staff to assist customers in a variety of ways, anywhere in the store—providing concierge-level assistance for shoppers in the dressing room, helping shoppers locate products in the aisles, or rescuing them from long wait times in checkout queues. Bonus: in-store use of mobile devices more easily attracts tech-savvy Millennials to augment the holiday workforce.

Wish #5: Reduce post-holiday returns madness.

The joy of successful holiday sales is tempered by the anticipation of the in-store pandemonium sure to follow. In a perfect word, if retailers have maintained optimum inventory and have motivated shoppers to purchase gifts in the physical store, it stands to reason that better in-person buying decisions will lead to fewer returns. However, many will visit the store with unwanted gifts purchased online. Standers in long, snaking lines simply want their transactions over and done. It’s all about providing great service to keep those customers coming back to the store.

Wish Granted: Mobile devices that enable more associates to process returns quickly will boost good will and help convert store visitors into loyal customers. Plus, trained associates have an opportunity to engage in a discussion about what products they’re looking for and where to find them in the store.

 

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Hotels, resorts, cruise lines and other hospitality venues are adapting digital signage to replace printed signs and notices within their establishments. The benefits are many, but most notably the ability to instantly change messages and the cost savings from printed placards. Staff time savings, guest convenience, promotions of internal amenities such as restaurants and lounges, and the cachet of IT within their establishments are also incentives to move toward digital signage, not only as information but also a point of sale (POS) incentive.

Mood Media is one company that has expanded to the hospitality sector, adding content from TripAdvisor’s® website to its digital signage solutions. Dubbed MVision Travel, the digital signage application serves as a “virtual concierge” for guests at major hotel brands. The real-time feed of TripAdvisor content into guest rooms includes recommendations, graphics and ratings for local attractions.

Cruise ship digital signage can serve as support “staff” through touch screens and monitors. Helping players find casinos, providing prices and appointment settings for spa and salon services, accessing information about formal events and recreational schedules and more, digital signs can also serve crucial functions such as displaying passenger safety information and protocols.

For example, Four Winds Interactive iDS® software solution is used on the Oasis of the Seas by Royal Caribbean. The company’s website notes that the size, number, and placement of digital signs and touch screens throughout the ship is crucial, but the software platform and applications are just as important, if not more so. This software will determine what content can be shown on these displays and how easy the system is to manage. One critical decision that executives face is whether to purchase a software license for a single ship or for the entire fleet when implementing cruise line digital signage. By purchasing a company-wide license, the cost per ship and per sign goes down, and the opportunities to create consistent cruise line branding increase substantially. The economic benefits of a fleet-wide license can also serve as the perfect excuse to invest in a fleet-wide overhaul of guest services and amenities.

A White Paper from Keywest Technology cites six areas that digital signage in hotels can cost-effectively increase revenues and enhance the guest experience. They include in-room channels; door cards; reader boards; advertising signage; mapping; and hybrid, interactive displays such as kiosks. Amenities offered on the property or information on hours of operation for an in-house restaurant, checkout times or safety procedures can also be displayed.

The White Paper notes that real-time advertising messages geared toward the demographics of an anticipated audience may be the chief advantage of digital signage in advertising applications over static, printed signs. The practice, called “day-parting,” empowers managers to promote

in-house restaurants based on breakfast, lunch or dinner specials of the day on the same sign at the time of day when people are most interested in a given meal. Later, that sign can be used to promote the hotel lounge and special entertainment. Keeping the guest on the premises and spending money in-house is the goal. Additionally, advertising from selected outside businesses, such as upscale retail or local attractions, can also easily be added.

 

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How The Point Of Sale (POS) Industry Works

If you are researching point of sale (POS) solutions for your business, or just want to understand more about the POS industry, here is a brief summary of how the point of sale industry works.

Point of sale solutions are about as diverse as the businesses they serve.  This stands to reason since businesses vary in size, scope, location, products, services, management styles, customer base, and many other factors.  Point of sale systems include a synthesis of both hardware and software, and coming up with the right blend for a particular business model is no simple matter.  Those in the POS industry know this, and so there is naturally an attempt to create avenues for helping businesses make good decisions and find the support they need.  It is helpful to know how this works.

Generally, the POS industry follows a supply chain model like this:

POS_industry_supply_chain

POS Hardware Manufacturers and Software Developers

APGPodium-Blkm-SSfrontPoint of sale manufactures create hardware, such as all-in-one POS terminals, barcode scanners, keyboards, cash drawers, pole displays, and receipt printers.  Frequently manufacturers will specialize on certain POS hardware items, such as APG Cash Drawer and MMF POS for cash drawers, or Epson for receipt printers.

POS software developers focus on creating software that provides POS functionality such as sales transactions, MMF_ADVC2MetalLockItUpTrayOnTopinventory control, reporting capabilities, managing customer data, and much more.  It is common for developers to customize their POS software for various industries, such as retail, grocery, liquor stores, salons, and others, since these business types can have very different needs.  Some software developers choose to work directly with businesses to create cost-effective and customized solutions, doing without the distributor/VAR chain.  Some developers focus on providing online POS solutions based on cloud technology, so that the point of sale software can be used more independently of hardware restrictions, and accessed from a POS station, computer, laptop, or smartphone.

POS Distributors

POS distributors act as liaisons between manufacturers and VARs.  Large distributors such as BlueStar and ScanSource are poised to find and work with the best manufacturers of POS hardware from across the globe, many of whom offer innovative and cost-effective technology but are not set up to work directly with VARs or businesses efficiently.  By working with manufacturers, the distributors help to reduce costs and improve products with product testing and product support.

POS distributors also are able to integrate POS hardware with various POS software options, allowing VARs to offer reasonable options for businesses of all levels.  Distributors will often include terminal setup so that VARs can offer plug and play installation for their clients, saving both the reseller and the business the headaches of installation.

The distributor’s relationships with POS software developers provide the benefit of customer leads for POS VARs.  Other benefits that distributors offer to resellers include training for products, technology, and business, sales support and advertising assistance, and trade shows for education, exposure, and networking.  They can also provide technical support, such as testing software compatibility with POS terminals, as well access to an extensive inventory.

Distributors also provide a credit facility, when VARs require it, to allow sales involving large amounts of equipment to be easily transacted.

POS Value-Added Resellers (VARs)

POS VARs are specialists who work directly with business owners to find the right blend of hardware and software for their business, adding value to the products with their expertise and ongoing support.  VARs may work independently or with a POS Distributor for added support and expertise.   VARs will handle installations, coordinating or supervising cable and electrical installations.  They will also provide on-site training for the staff.   Many VARs bring decades of POS experience with equipment of all shapes and sizes to bear for the benefit of the store owner.

POS End-Users

The end-users of POS systems are businesses large and small in retail, service and other industries.   Businesses using point of sale solutions range from small single-store outfits to online companies, to national or international corporations.  Point of sale solutions can hold tremendous benefits for apparel or hospitality applications, automotive shops, drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, e-commerce sites, single store or multi-store operations, and more.  A properly suited POS system can save time and money, greatly increase efficiency and improve customer service and satisfaction.

The effective installation of a point of sale system involves a ten billion dollar plus industry with numerous players adding value at every stage.  End-users of a POS system, and certainly their customers, may not see or appreciate the tens of thousands of people involved, but they are there, in the background, helping to make it happen.  The local reseller may be a two person or fifty-two person operation, but they are ultimately backed by companies from modestly sized software developers to multi-billion dollar distributors and layers of expert industry personnel, all working to ensure a smooth and seamless POS installation.

All-In-One Company

Harbortouch Elite POS was designed from the ground up with custom hardware and industry-specific software exclusively from Harbortouch. Our FREE point of sale system program eliminates the enormous up-front costs over other expensive choices. With credit card processing built in you have one phone number to call for everything. Leaving nothing out, Harbortouch offers complete coverage from 24/7 award-winning technical support to free hardware replacement for the life of your system. Harbortouch has you covered the entire time you own the system.

 

 

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 While due to be in place last October, EMV has been slowly materializing.  All of the various participants ARE making progress, according to experts.  For example,  MasterCard is now reporting that 80% of its outstanding cards have chips.  But how is the merchant doing, why are we doing chip and signature, and what is in store for the future?
The Point of Sale News spoke with several industry leaders for an update.   Kind enough to share their thoughts were Scott Blum, Vice President of Total Merchant Services; Andrey Tikhonov, Senior Director, Payment Technology, Certified TG-3 Auditor, for Infinite Peripherals; and Henry Helgeson, CEO of Cayan.
Q(Point of Sale News): What does the near future hold for EMV adoption and implementation?
A: Blum: We believe that EMV adoption will continue to grow at a slower yet steady pace in the SMB space than adoption last year.  Many SMBs converted at the deadline, and those that waited have converted on a slower, albeit steady pace.  We believe this adoption trend will continue in the next 6 months.
A: Tikhonov: ISV and vendors will continue on the EMV implementation path. Many previously took a shortcut and implemented limited scope software applications that reduced the software capability to Visa and MasterCard contact chip only, bypassing the less common American Express and Discover card brands and reducing the NFC payment schemes acceptance. Now, many of these vendors must go back to the queue to add support for AE and Discover, as well as re-enabling the NFC schemes. It will take more than 6 months to clear up the queue.
Q: (POSN) Is chip and pin going to emerge or are we destined to have chip and signature forever?  infinite peripherals mPOS
A:Tikhonov: Although initial implementation of EMV was practically 100% chip-and-signature, card brands will begin the process over the next several years of migration to Chip-and-PIN as a more secure card acceptance scheme. The chip-and-signature originally was selected by the card brands as the least invasive option for merchants and customers in the initial implementation of EMV in the U.S. market. The chip-and-signature only addresses one aspect of card-present fraud – counterfeit cards but does not address a stolen card issue. Therefore, chip-and-PIN is enforcing a stronger cardholder validation method, and over time will become a prevalent option for cardholder verification.
A: Blum: EMV is one of the most effective methods for reducing skimming and counterfeit credit card fraud.  The addition of the PIN mitigates losses from lost or stolen card fraud.  In the US, skimming and counterfeit fraud is over 2X the loss from lost or stolen cards, and therefore it makes sense to focus on that first.  Chip and Signature solves that issue, so in the short term, it may be the most cost-effective approach.  In addition, other forms of authentication similar to the PIN are developing, which may make the investment in PIN-less attractive over time.
Q: (POSN) Merchants are saying that there are more charge-backs.  Are you seeing that and if so, why?  
A. Tikhonov: Yes, there is a trend of increased volume of charge-backs — mostly transactions originating with magnetic stripe use in non-EMV-ready merchant environments. This can be attributed to:  1). Issuers are taking advantage of unprepared/non-EMV merchants to satisfy consumer charge-back requests in favor of consumers, justifying the judgment by the new liability shift; 2). Educated consumers may be taking advantage of unprepared/non-EMV merchants by falsely claiming that charges are fraudulent, knowing that in a magnetic stripe environment, they are likely to benefit from a charge-back being honored in their favor.
A. Blum: We are seeing an increase in chargebacks for merchants as a result of the new EMV rules.  This is not a result of any changes in computer programs.
Q: (POSN) What other trends or issues do you see? 
A: Blum: Our initial view is that the introduction of EMV will actually result in an increase in NFC and mobile payment adoption.  This is because the time required for a customer to complete an EMV transaction can take up to three times the time required for an NFC transaction.  As EMV becomes the standard, more merchants and customers will opt to use their phones and watches for convenience and speed.  The card associations are working to increase the speed of EMV  transactions to make this faster, which we believe we happen over the next several years.  At the Electronic Transaction Association’s TRANSACT 16 event, Visa announced the launch of Quick Chip for EMV, a technology enhancement that optimizes EMV chip card processing and check out times.  We will see how that technology plays out, but in the meantime, EMV should help NFC adoption.
A: Tikhonov:  The complexity of EMV implementation will drive the consolidation of ISV market. Due to the significant time, money and expertise required for EMV, only the strongest ISVs will survive the pressure and cost of the integration process.
    Recently a team from NCR exposed a potential flaw in the chipped credit card, much to the consternation of some vendors.   Henry Helgeson, CEO of Cayan weighed in:  “As if EMV speed issues weren’t already a challenge for retailers, now they face the additional concerns brought up by NCR’s report and the assumptions it makes. In reality, it’s not quite as sensational as depicted. What’s really going on here is that many issuing banks are still working through their fraud algorithms. Essentially, when the EMV flag is missing on a card, the issuing bank should be able see that the track data was incorrect and decline the transaction. When this doesn’t happen, there is a risk of merchants getting chargebacks resulting in this type of fraud. Encryption is important, yes, but what’s more pressing is for the issuers to update their fraud algorithms so that merchants aren’t the ones paying the price.”
So, almost a year after introduction in the United States, and ten years after the introduction of chip and pin in Europe and Canada, progress comes at a modest pace – with one step backwards for every two steps forward.  Will it be enough to stay ahead of the hackers?   That battle is likely to continue for the foreseeable future and merchants should be diligent in applying state of the art technology for the safety of their own businesses and for the security of the cardholder’s information.   
Article by Craig L Aberle
More articles about Payment Processing issues, many of which are exclusive to The Point of Sale News, can be found here: Payment Processing News
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What EMV Tokenization 2.0 Means For The Payments Industry

 

Technical body EMVCo launched version two of its EMV® Payment Tokenisation Specification – Technical Framework in September. The market has evolved rapidly since v1.0 was launched in 2014 to address the needs of digital payments including eCommerce, and minimize the fraud risk associated with an exposure of primary account numbers (PAN) – so v2.0 has been eagerly anticipated by the ecosystem.mobile payment

Here are a few things that stood out for me among the key updates and revisions.

Continuous development

As with all technology, the innovation curve is too steep for standardization to keep pace. This update, therefore, brings the framework in line with many of the developments that have happened over the past couple of years. It also addresses a range of feedback from live implementations of the technology to smooth the path for widespread deployment.

For example, EMVCo released an interim note in 2016 on its EMV Payment Account Reference (PAR) which enables merchants, acquirers and payment processors to link together a cardholder’s EMV payment token and PAN transactions. Version 2.0 of the tokenization specification clarifies this at a standards level and sets the rules for BIN controllers (such as an ISO IIN Card Issuer) to implement PAR for their BINs.

Greater clarity

One particularly positive development is the inclusion of a common set of definitions and terminology in the framework. This may sound simple, but it gives the ecosystem a way to communicate effectively and avoid confusion and delays. Players can now easily understand both the similarities and differences in supporting and implementing tokenization with each of the international and domestic payment schemes.

Elsewhere, EMVCo has clarified the roles, responsibilities and minimum requirements for entities establishing a token program. This will ensure the effective generation, issuance and full lifecycle management of payment tokens as markets develop. The document also outlines a range of new and existing token requestor types to clearly define who can request tokens and their associated notable characteristics.

This increased clarity not only enables greater collaboration and stability, it sets the stage for even more rapid evolution and brings confidence in tokenization as a fraud prevention technology.

New tokenization use cases

Since the launch of the original framework, the use cases for payment tokenization have expanded significantly to allow for multiple types of cardholder- and merchant-initiated transactions. The new framework, therefore, addresses new use cases for eCommerce, including:

– eCommerce using a mobile/digital wallet – consumers can perform a tokenized transaction on an eCommerce site or in-app using their mobile/digital wallet.

 Shared payment token – a Token Requestor can share the same payment token between multiple Token Users (e.g. merchants).

These additions can bring the fraud prevention of dynamic tokens to scenarios like recurring one-click-ordering and in-app payments.

Is this progress?

In a word, absolutely! While there is nothing necessarily revolutionary here, this update is both catching up with innovation and enabling it to continue happening in a sustainable, stable and secure way. We, as a developing ecosystem, now have a more complete reference manual to work from, which makes life easier for entities to clearly define their requirements when issuing an RFP, for example, and for technology providers to better understand what the market needs.

What next?

Work is ongoing. We are moving towards an end-game where all payments (and even all data!) are tokenized, so we need to get to a place where static tokens (like PANs) are no longer used and dynamic tokens are universal.

In our role as an EMVCo Technical Associate, we look forward to continuing to support the future extension and clarification of the framework to enable further common understanding of the roles, concepts and use cases between all parties in the ecosystem.

*EMV® is a registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries and an unregistered trademark elsewhere. The EMV trademark is owned by EMVCo.

 

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Common Mobile Payments Myths All Business Owners Need To Know

While we all know how popular credit and debit card payments are and have been for years now, these days more consumers expect to be able to pay using their mobile device, instead of a typical point-of-sale system. Transactions made on smartphones or other types of small, Internet-enabled devices have been growing significantly, and demand doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon. In fact, according to recent statistics, the worldwide mobile payment revenue is expected to hit more than $1 trillion in 2019.

Based on this, it’s easy to see that the cost of not accepting mobile payments in your venture can include many lost sales, not to mention losses when it comes to repeat business and referrals — after all, customers desire convenience, and if they can’t find the payment method they want when dealing with your firm, they’re likely to shop elsewhere in future. They’ll also only recommend to their contacts those businesses they find to suit their needs completely. If you haven’t started making mobile payments available to your clients yet, it’s, therefore, time to remedy this situation.

It is also possible you’ve heard some of the many common myths about mobile payments which are floating around, and think incorporating mobile just isn’t for you. To ensure you’re up on all the facts, read on for the truth behind some of the prevailing myths surrounding mobile payments.

Too Difficult to Incorporate Into Your Business

If you’re like most other entrepreneurs, you’re no doubt crazy busy every week and feel like you never have enough time to get all your jobs done or even make a dent in their number. As such, you might have been avoiding setting up a mobile payment system because you think it will take too much time and be too difficult to set up.

This just isn’t the case though, because most popular mobile payment systems can be put in place in just a few minutes. Like other applications available these days, mobile payment apps are created to be intuitive to use and simple and user-friendly for even people who have limited experience in dealing with this type of tech.

For most mobile systems, to set them up all you have to do is get yourself a merchant account with the provider you have chosen (just like you would with other types of payment systems), and then download the company’s app. If needed, you might also have to plug a credit-card swiper into the audio jack of your smartphone or tablet. Most often these days, though, mobile systems can use NFC and/or Bluetooth tech to read a customer’s card. Credit card information can also sometimes be manually keyed in if required.

                                                                      Not Securepayment myths 2

For a large number of business owners, the myth that mobile payments are less secure than other payment options is the thing that stops them from setting up such a system. When you think about it, you can see that mobile transactions are very similar to traditional POS or e-commerce payments, because no data needs to be stored in the device itself.

All your customer’s sensitive details are transmitted digitally instead, so even if you did happen to lose one of your devices or have a company smartphone or tablet stolen, no personal or financial client information can be accessed by prying eyes.

Like with any other type of payment system you might use, it’s still a good idea to seek out a provider that’s reputable, well-established and takes security very seriously. Look for a firm that adheres strictly to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance standards, and that has a top security record.

Not Worth the Hassle

Another pervading myth that stops some entrepreneurs from going down the mobile payment route is that these types of systems are “not worth the hassle.” Business owners can mistakenly believe they won’t be able to put through enough transactions on their mobile payment app to make the time and effort they think is involved worthwhile. This is just not true though.

As noted above, time is not a factor to worry about with mobile payment systems, and they’re very straightforward to use, too. What’s more, though, is the fact that your business will be able to enjoy many benefits from offering mobile payments to your customers. You can make clients happy because they can pay using their preferred method, plus you can reach people where and when you want.

Instead of having to be tied down to a physical cash register or another location-dependent point-of-sale system, you can complete transactions on the go and at alternative places like tradeshows, client homes or offices, festivals, and conferences. The resulting sales and exposure you can get from this should be well worth it.

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Last Friday’s bombshell news seems to have taken many by surprise.   We received dozens of emails about it.   Surely it’s a good move for amazin’ Amazon, and probably a good (graceful) wind-down strategy for the beleaguered John Mackey of Whole Foods, who’s been hounded by shareholders and stakeholders (employees and customers) for years.

This acquisition is not a surprise

This IS history repeating itself. Sears Roebuck – which began as a mail-order company offering an enormous level of inventory and options (maybe the equivalent of today’s Internet company) did the same thing a century ago. It came on like a steamroller – redefining what retailing was all about and many businesses could not compete with Sears.

(Trivia – Sears didn’t open their first retail store until 1925 (source – Sears Archives) – that is less than 100 years ago– 92 years ago to be exact.        

Then came WalMart – barreling down the retail highway and doing to Sears and Kmart in kind. And wiping out a plethora of micro-sized businesses on Main Street in America. The anti-Walmart articles of the last few decades have cried bitterly about the decline of the small town Main Street at the hands of the evil Walmart – but the population voted with their pocketbook.

(Trivia – Walmart didn’t open a store outside of Arkansas until 1968 – that is 49 years ago.)

Now it’s Amazon taking market share from retailers by offering good value, quick service, a vast inventory (exponentially beyond the old Sears and Roebuck catalog) and pioneering technical efficiencies in a new world environment.

It’s the same creative destruction embraced by the wallets of hundreds of millions of consumers in the past, even as it leaves our consciences a little uneasy.  Amazon doesn’t own the future of retailing, however, any more than Sears or Walmart did in their times – but it sure feels like it today.

Ironically, the $13.7 billion dollar announcement had the effect of wiping out nearly a collective $40 billion dollars of its competitors market value – Kroger ‘s stock price dropped over 9% that day.  And yet, subsequent to the announcement the price of Whole Foods stock is popping up above the purchase offer price, suggesting that other prospective buyers may emerge and make an offer for WF stock.

So, what do industry executives think about it?

“This changes the game completely for so many grocery retailers and has put Amazon in a perfect position to push the boundaries of the grocery segment. We will quite likely see them continue to push to sell more than just groceries as well as continue to trial more store innovations. One of the most obvious obstacles for Amazon going after the brick-and-mortar grocery market in 2016 was the lack of physical store shelves, which is so critical in grocery. This has changed overnight for Amazon. The purchase of Whole Foods will make the online grocery space even more competitive, which is why it will be so important for grocery retailers to have consistent online and in-store pricing. For grocery retailers to even think about competing with this new juggernaut, the industry must have the ability to control and drive in-store pricing and promotions with speed, agility, and consistency.” –Paul Milner, Marketing Director, DisplayData

Over 70% of US Households making $112k a year have an Amazon Prime account. There is a very high correlation of these shoppers being the shoppers that go to Whole Foods.  There is mounting evidence that wealthier consumers are no longer choosing luxury items like cars and boats to show status, but rather leveraging healthier food choices and education options as class markers.   Kelly Sayre IHL Services

“The concept of a friction-free shopping experience, that dissolves the lines between brick and mortar locations and the digital world, is a winner – Amazon recognizes this and is moving to execute that fantastic vision. Buying the 400+ Whole Foods Market locations may just be their new starting point.  With this, the battle lines are being drawn quickly.  Some will run for the exits, while others will freeze with fear and doubt. Think of the old saying, “When you’re being chased by a bear, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun the guy running next to you.”  With that in mind, look out for those local and regional retailers who are prepared to take a stand by moving quickly to dramatically up their technology game.” – Pete Catoe, Founder and CEO, ECRS

“Amazon’s news to acquire Whole Foods may seem shocking, but they are continuing on a mission to provide seamless customer experiences. We know Amazon has been investing in the grocery space for some time, starting with Prime Now and then moving into AmazonFresh…. This deal gives Amazon the seal of approval for the quality products that Whole Foods has earned over decades. … Additionally, this acquisition will make Amazon a huge omnichannel juggernaut in one swift move, taking them 15 physical stores to well over 400 overnight.” – Jennifer Sherman, SVP of Product & Strategy, Kibo

 “Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods goes way beyond just grocery. This is a major wake-up call for all of retail. What this means for retailers, in general, is that they need to get their omnichannel strategies in play – FAST. A retailer’s best option is to invest in order management, highlight that they offer click and collect services, and provide the best service possible on that in-store drop in.” – Charles Dimov, director of marketing, OrderDynamics

“Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods addresses its two greatest weaknesses – a lack of physical stores and a strong grocery play – while potentially creating even greater advantages for its greatest strengths – endless aisles and customer data. Bringing hundreds of physical locations under its control will allow Amazon to understand consumers at a much deeper level, enabling them to personalize the experience, both online and in store, to an unprecedented degree.” – David Buckingham, CEO, Ecrebo

“Whole Foods has over 430 stores globally; meaning Amazon has acquired more than 430 new properties to use as distribution centers. Retailers already concerned about Amazon’s strength in digital commerce now need to contend with the reality: Amazon is coming after brick and mortar, too. I talk with retailers every day who are in denial of Amazon’s impact on their business. But Amazon understands that retail and distribution have changed forever. It’s no longer about buying and reselling products, but about creating incredibly valuable ecosystems. ” – Adrien Nussenbaum, U.S. CEO and co-founder, Mirakl

This news has the whole grocery industry waking up today with a realization that the playing field just changed dramatically. I doubt other Retail sectors that compete with Amazon understand the impact of how now having the large treasure trove of data on customer’s grocery, health and well-being buying is going to enable Amazon to be an even more ruthless competitor in every retail sector whether it is shoes, baby products, apparel, electronics, or any of the other 400 million + products it sells.– John Squire, CEO, DynamicAction

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Companies like Google and Tesla are engaged in an arms race to control the future of AI. Not only is this new frontier the engine that will drive their respective companies, it’s changing the face of almost every industry—including the payments ecosystem.AI 1

In the years since I co-founded eMerchantBroker we’ve seen this nascent technology start to affect all parts of the payments chain. Huge investments are being made in developing the different aspects of AI to optimize how we do everything from exchange payments to detect fraud to support our customers.

The next few years will see an acceleration in developments that will alter how payment companies large and small operate their businesses. Some will be left behind. Others, those at the leading edge of the wave, will separate themselves from their competitors and emerge as industry leaders.

This is especially true in the high-risk merchant processing side of the industry, where the potential for fraud and high levels of chargebacks is rampant. Those high-risk merchants who take advantage of the growing suite of AI driven tools to reduce risk while providing a better customer experience are the ones who will thrive.

Here’s why.

Investment in AI is growing every year

According to a CB Insights annual AI funding report, funding in AI start-ups increased from just under $600 million in 2012 to $5.021 billion in 2016. This tremendous growth is spurred by the promise for radical change that AI brings to most industries—including the payments industry. It has the potential to streamline the payment chain, reduce fraud, improve customer service and optimize risk assessment—all key success criteria for companies in the high-risk merchant space.

What is AI?

AI can be generally described as the ability of a machine to exhibit human-like intelligence—to make decisions like a person, only faster, and after considering a much greater volume of data. It is commonly used in smartphones, reservation systems, medical diagnosis and, of course, finance. It makes possible greater efficiencies, faster processing, and almost complete accuracy.

Types of AI

Today’s Artificial Intelligence research centers on several key technologies. For the high-risk merchant processing industry, the most important include: Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Verbal and Vision Recognition, and AI bots.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning (sometimes called Adaptive Learning) is crucial to the high-risk processing industry’s ability to detect and respond to fraud. Generally speaking, Machine Learning describes a process by which a software model is constructed and vast volumes of data are compared against it. Learning algorithms enable the model to evolve in response to changes in the incoming data.

For example, financial services companies develop Machine Learning models with rules that outline typical fraudulent activity. The software can review data as it comes in and flag patterns that match the fraud model—indicating the transactions should be investigated. As more and more transactions and patterns are examined, the model can develop itself based on learning algorithms.

Such Machine Learning models can also help high-risk payment companies optimize product offerings, detect money laundering schemes, and perform online risk management.

One example of how machine learning can help the high-risk merchant industry combat fraud is Simility’s introduction of a new AI-based fraud prevention platform. The company’s Adaptive 3-D Secure software uses Machine Learning to create rule-based models that can evaluate each transaction in real-time. The AI looks at device fingerprinting, behavioral analytics, proxy filtering, and geolocation to identify high-risk transactions. And, because of that AI model, Simility is able to ask for secure authentication only for truly high-risk transactions where fraud could be present. This makes the payment process easier for customers while offering chargeback protection for merchants.A1 2

Vision Recognition (VR)

Vision recognition technology is a breed of AI that allows the software to identify objects. In the high-risk payments industry this is particularly applicable to fingerprint or facial recognition as second level authentication methods. The technology enables customers to easily make mobile payments and provides security from fraud at the point of sale. Apple Pay uses this type of AI to secure POS payments by requiring fingerprint ID for each iPhone or iPad transaction. Flint and Square use the technology to allow merchants to accept payments on their mobile—using the phone’s camera and VR capabilities to confirm that the card information being processed is legit. In the high-risk processing world, VR is important because it’s authentication capabilities reduce chargeback rates for companies targeted by fraudsters.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is already in widespread use in a number of industries. It is an AI technology that allows a machine to understand spoken commands or questions. Among the most well-known applications using NLP are Apple’s Siri and Google Translate. In the high-risk processing space, NLP is being used to reduce customer service costs by taking customer questions without human interaction. As well, NLP is being used by Apple to allow iPhone users to initiate payments using voice commands. This reduces customer friction and makes the sales process easier.

How are AI bots impacting the high-risk payments industry?

AI bots are kind of a hybrid piece of software. They are apps that present the appearance of being human—in that they can understand and answer customer questions for instance—while being completely automated. They combine NLP and Machine Learning code to present effective interfaces that can handle thousands of interactions at the same time, rather than the one at a time limitations of human customer service reps.

AI bots used in chat software, messaging apps and virtual assistants are changing the face of the high-risk payments industry. They enable better and cheaper customer service, and streamline the payments process.

They allow customers to make direct payments without leaving their preferred social media platform. For instance, PayPal can integrate with Facebook Messenger, Siri and Slack—meaning you can actually initiate a payment to a co-worker just by typing in a command in Slack. And, from Messenger or Slack, it’s possible for people to use bots like Hipmunk to find, book and pay for hotels, flights, and car rentals.

AI bots also make it possible to make payments via text messaging. The Mypoolin app has a mobile payments bot that lets you text an instruction to transfer money from your bank account to a phone number—enabling you to easily make payments to people in your contacts list.

Financial services firms are using AI bots to create awesome client experiences. The bots allow customers to easily monitor their spending, check account balances, make better financial decisions and pay off debt. Mastercard is developing an AI bot called Mastercard KAI that lets consumers make payments, manage finances and shop from Facebook Messenger.

In the high-risk space, AI bots are a boon because they can replace human service reps in handling customer questions and complaints. They speed up the service process and create significant savings.

Wrap Up

The high-risk merchant processing industry is evolving. Adoption of AI solutions for improving the customer experience and reducing fraud and chargebacks is improving efficiency and profit margins. Those merchants and payments companies who are quick to adopt the latest AI solutions are more likely to succeed in the new, automated business environment. Those high-risk businesses who ignore the changes reshaping the industry run the risk of being left behind by their more nimble competitors. In an environment where competition is increasing and margins are tightening AI provides high-risk companies new opportunity to evolve and grow.

 

Electronic payments expert, Blair Thomas, co-founded eMerchantBroker in 2010. His passions include writing/producing music, and travel. eMerchantBroker is America’s No. 1 credit card processing company, serving both traditional and high-risk merchants.

 

 

 

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The TLS Changeover: Why You Should Start Preparing

Source: Business Solutions 

3 Signs Your EDC Takes Data Security Seriously

The next big deadline in payment processing is on the way, but surprisingly not many people in the industry are talking about it. In June 2018, the TLS changeover deadline is coming. It might seem far away, but it’s going to require a lot of work to get your merchants prepared, and it’s best to get started soon. Because if they’re not ready in time, it’ll cost them.

The Basics

On July 1, 2018, an encryption method called TLS 1.0 will no longer be approved by the Payment Card Industry. Merchants must update to a newer version of TLS by June 30, 2018, or they can no longer process card payments.

What is TLS?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is an encryption protocol approved by the Payment Card Industry (PCI).

Its details are complex, but what’s important for merchants to understand is that it keeps customer data safe through encryption and ensures no third parties can eavesdrop or tamper with messages when servers and clients communicate. It’s involved in every step of the payment chain. POS systems, processors, acquirers—every step from the merchant to the credit card companies and back.

The Reasons Behind the Decision

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) declared that TLS 1.0 is too far out-of-date and no longer keeps data safe enough—the concern is that hackers have developed too many ways to exploit this standard. Merchants must upgrade to a new version, either TLS 1.1 or TLS 1.2, by the June 30, 2018 deadline.

What happens if a merchant doesn’t update?

If a merchant doesn’t update by June 30, 2018, they will no longer be able to process card transactions as of July 1, 2018. If they wait until that date and their processing stops, it will be difficult for them to quickly determine why, exactly, it happened—they will have to call everyone involved in their payments, starting with their POS company and processor, to determine which piece they hadn’t updated. All of this while a merchant is losing sales by not processing credit cards.

Some experts have estimated that the US economy could stand to face $20 billion in lost transactions if merchants don’t start to update in time.

Why You Need to Start Helping Your Merchants Soon

While it’s more than a year away, prior history with large payment tech changes indicates that merchants need a lot of advance warnings—so you should start work soon. Most notably, the chip card switchover and the SHA update created difficulty for everyone involved in the industry, from merchants to processors to VARs.

The TLS update process isn’t a totally simple one, but getting started early will mean you don’t have to deal with much bigger stress down the road. All the different companies involved in a merchants’ payment and checkout experience may need to be consulted. Because if merchants don’t update, they’re at risk of losing a huge amount of revenue.

What are your options to resolve this update?

You can pay several thousand to upgrade your current system. Could take months but keep in mind the deadline is June 30th, 2018. Florida POS Systems would recommend a Harbortouch Point of Sale System. With no up-front costs, free programming, free installation & training with award winning 24/7 technical support. To see our full line of POS Systems and other payment solutions click here.

 

Take it from Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue, a new partner with Harbortouch creating the world’s first Smart POS System.

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