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  1. From Cash to Card

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    credit_cards

    Times are changing. The popular chant ‘Cash is King’ may now be being drowned out by the beep or squeak of a Card Machine, wallets are getting thinner. But not because people have less money…

    It has emerged that the majority of transactions now are cashless. Since the first debit cards arrived into the market in the early 1970’s, cash began its descent in popularity. The convenience and security of debit and credit cards make them a popular choice. A BBC report emerged today that cash transactions have become the minority and cashless transactions have risen, the divide stands at 48% to 52%. The figures are staggering, especially considering the relative age of digital money in comparison to coinage. In 1990, debit cards were used in about 300 million transactions and in 2009, prepaid and debit cards were used in 37.6 billion transactions. A trend of growth that will not subside; it is predicted that cash transactions will decrease by a further 30% over the coming decade.

    It should be noted however that cash transactions remain the majority in certain sectors. Nightclubs and newsagents are still dominated by cash transactions.

    For further reading, visit the links below:

    Market Place
    Market Place


  2. Key IVR

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    Key Interactive Voice Response systems (Key IVR), from a business point of view, are effective and reliable. The technology for these systems is ever evolving and ever developing. Companies can use them as an automated payment service or simply to refer them to the correct line to reach the relevant team. They’re not just the recipients of the call, they can be programmed to dial up customers automatically and process the needs of the conversation.

    Are You Being Served?

    An estimation from Gartner projects shows that, “By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human”. What does that tell us? It’s informing us that, love it or hate it, IVR is growing and becoming more sophisticated all the time. Within 5 years the vast majority of interactions with a business, from a consumer or customer perspective, will be managed telephonically. Of course it is inescapable that many people want to speak to an actual person about their miscellaneous troubles and there are always going to be scenarios that an automotive IVR system isn’t prepared for; so it’s important to have a human down the line for communication too. In fact the average IVR system supplies that option 4th selection in. Starting at the beginning, the infographic below displays an IVR’s average referral time to a human speaker.

    piechart

    It seems the majority subside after option three to speak to a human. Does this show a natural preference to speak to people as opposed to machines? Not necessarily because automation isn’t always necessarily the voice of a robot. In fact many companies choose to enlist professional actors in studios to perform the voice function of their automated equipment. 74% of people prefer listening to the voice of a women apparently because people want to hear a voice that sounds to care.

    What Do We want?

    IVR has something of a divide. It is suggested that 66 percent of people believe that self-service is generally more convenient. This preference is even higher—82 percent—amongst Gen Y (babies born in the 80’s to early 90’s) consumers. However despite this statistic that states people prefer self-service, IVR can still get a negative reception, “an overwhelming 70% of respondents ranked this as the top factor affecting their satisfaction level”. So where is the problem? Is the problem that IVR is undesirable or poorly implemented? On one hand we have people telling us they prefer to do things by themselves, contrarily we have people informing us that they prefer to not interact with other people when performing things such as, checking their bank balance.

    people

    Doing it well.

    The truth is the implementation of the IVR is the issue. Many companies don’t facilitate it correctly. You find they don’t subside to a person easily enough. Or oppositely they can’t perform basic functions, like checking your mobile phone bill. Speculatively it seems that IVR, like an organ, is a powerful instrument, if in the hands of people who know what they want from it. IVR direction should come from the customer’s needs and not what the business thinks the customer’s needs are, this is why many businesses record customer telephone conversations. What they learn there, they can teach their systems and adapt accordingly. Poor implementation of IVR is not without consequence, it is estimated that 81 percent of those who had a hard time solving their problems reported an intention to spread negative word-of-mouth.

    In favour of IVR are the practicalities that are oh so attractive and what these systems can realise for your business. They have the power to cut down on fees. You have one payment to set up the IVR in the beginning, then maintenance. They can do the job of many employees and they do so without the temperament or erroneous nature of the human. Not to mention an IVR is never out of office and probably isn’t going to ask you to call back at a later date, unless they were referring you to a person in the first place.

    For further information, please visit the links below:

    Software Advice

    Smart Customer Service

    Spoken


  3. New Acquirers

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    The unique position of Cardstream is owed to its adaptability, made possible because we are an independent payment gateway; this unique position, in turn, is owed to our reputable merchant acquirers, which – I am pleased to report – is a rapidly growing list! We boast no less than 18 acquiring partners to contact and choose a merchant account from. For any hopeful merchants out there, any one of those could provide the most suitable merchant account for your business and we’ve recently added some new acquirers into our repertoire!

    Just what is a merchant acquirer?

    A merchant account is where the money transitions into following a transaction from a customer. The funds go through us (Cardstream) and straight to your merchant account,. This process can take up to 3-5 working days. The person that facilitates this mandatory account is the party industrially referred to as a ‘Merchant Acquirer’ and it’s their job to ensure the smooth running of your account and facilitate otherwise unavailable debit or credit card payments.

    Where do Cardstream fit in with these acquirers?

    We have a relationship with them that can allow some flexibility with prices, also we find that having another party (ourselves) thrown into the mix allows for someone else to be a reference point should either party experience displeasure with the other. When in contact with an acquirer, it certainly helps to have that little bit of free advice and support that Cardstream offer. Below is a list of our current
    acquirers:

    • Allied Wallet – New!
    • Allied Irish Bank
    • American Express
    • Bank of Scotland
    • Barclaycard
    • Borgun – New!
    • Clydesdale Bank & Yorkshire Bank
    • Credorax
    • The co-operative bank
    • Elavon
    • First Data
    • Global Payments (HSBC)
    • Payvision– New!
    • Postbank – New!
    • Cashflows (Voice Commerce Group)
    • Wirecard – New!
    • Worldpay (Streamline)

    If you have a merchant account with any of these acquirers and want to make the move to Cardstream then transferring to Cardstream is easy! We send you across an application form, you fill it in and we get you set up.

    Simple.

    You don’t even need to change merchant acquirer, Cardstream will work with your current acquirer, saving you a lot of time and hassle.

    More information can be discovered about the acquirers on the following URL:

    Click Here

    And of course, as always, the Cardstream team are always happy to talk to you via phone or email if you need to know more, so feel free to call us on 0845 00 99 575 or e-mail us at solutions(at)cardstream(dot)com.


  4. The Importance of Being Responsive

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    Convenience is the ultimate business niche, to say ‘we can tailor to your personal needs’ is what everyone wants to hear; so when we login to a website to buy our beloved mothers a gift or two for Mothering Sunday: we want to ensure that we can see the jewellery, chocolates or flowers clearly. We also want to make sure there’s no awkward pinching and scrolling so we can see the price, product and review on our portable devices without too much hassle. We call an adaptable website capable doing this responsive.

    True Story

    So I have my smartphone, my tablet and my laptop. I’m out and about, I want to buy some roses. I don’t want to use my laptop and my tablet is cumbersome. I want to use my smartphone. But! The website is not compatible with mobiles, the screen doesn’t fit and the interface is frustrating; to cut a long story short, I’m going to a different website and this business lost my custom.

    A worrying statistic for non-compatible websites say that customers are five times more likely to neglect an attempted transaction they’re trying if the site isn’t responsive to mobile devices and are 79% are more likely to attempt a different site from the search engine’s results. One site reports an ideal mobile responsive site (according to customers) has the following aspects: the page loads in 5 seconds or less; large and colourful buttons; limited scrolling and pinching; speedy access to the ‘contact us’ section; quick ability to phone customer service and the ability to locate staff member’s social media profiles.

    This is how we do it.

    Cardstream’s Payment Gateway is completely responsive, the screenshot we have here is the exact same webpage one would visit on any other device, and it merely re-formats itself according to the size of the devices screen and displays the interface in the most accommodating manner possible. The possible problem with producing (for example) a mobile website
    and a desktop website, is you have double the amount of maintenance to perform and great care must be taken to ensure consistency and symmetry between the two website’s information. Responsive websites are a great way to keep things tidy, consistent (which reflects well on the business) and flexible in application; with your transactions, if you don’t use it- you could lose it!responsive phone

    Click to view a bigger image

    As always, for further reading, please visit these links:

    http://www.webstarsltd.com/blog/why-responsive-web-design-is-important
    https://blog.kissmetrics.com/mobile-mania/
    http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2208496/72-of-consumers-want-mobilefriendly-sites-google-research


  5. The Future of mCommerce

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    mobile

    Finding the right goods for your home, garden or even place of work can be daunting these days with the wide variety of products available to consumers and walking from shop to shop can be tiring, but with the increasing popularity of mCommerce, shopping for your brand new sofa, lawn ornament or desk lamp is as easy as ever.

    What is mCommerce?

    Coined by Kevin Duffey in 1997, mCommerce is the idea of delivering eCommerce into a consumer’s hand wherever they are via a wireless connection. Whilst the idea was discussed almost 10 years ago, new technologies such as 4G and wi-fi hotspots are making the idea a reality. It’s estimated that by 2018, 50% of eCommerce transactions will actually be mCommerce.

    There’s An App For That

    With over 1 million apps available for Apple’s ‘App Store’ alone and with android not falling far behind, there’s a wealth of stores and products available to consumers’ fingertips. With 93% of all British people now claiming to own a mobile phone and with 57% of American mobile phone users, it’s easy to see how the trend of mCommerce is growing in popularity. Downloading or ordering the latest book, song or film is as simple as pressing a button.

    Surprisingly, Japan was one of the early adopters of mCommerce managing 10 billion products ordered on a mobile in 2009 compared to America’s 1.9 billion. Since then, however, America has embraced the idea with Apple reporting that the average Christmas gift ordered on an iPhone in 2014 was $97.28.

    mCommerce is predicted to become a $325 billion industry across the world by 2015, so making sure that your products can be accessed by a mobile phone, either through your website or via a free app, is becoming increasingly important. With the possibility of lost or stolen phones, it’s equally as important to ensure that your store can process payments safely and securely.

    For sources and further reading, please visit the links below:

    https://www.internetretailer.com/2014/03/10/mobile-commerce-will-be-nearly-half-e-commerce-2018

    http://www.retentionscience.com/2015-prediction-as-screen-sizes-grow-so-will-mobile-commerce/

    https://econsultancy.com/blog/5435-mobile-commerce-to-grow-to-119bn-by-2015-report/

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/battle-lines-drawn-for-the-retail-mcommerce-war-in-2015-287630611.html


  6. Predicted Statistics 2015

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    2015

    The hardest part of any year is arguably fraught with anxiety mostly at the beginning, so with some New Year’s cheer, foresight and positivity we can tackle it. With foresight in mind; E-Commerce seems to be as trendy and developmental as ever. A stunning figure of $24 trillion in Global retails sales (that’s $24 with 12 zeroes on the end for emphasis) is predicted to be hit in 2015. With last year’s prediction being $22 trillion according to our recent 2014 blog, that’s an increment of $2 trillion for the year, 10% in fact.

    In Britain and the UK, E-Commerce as a trading industry creates a profit margin of £700 million every single week and although we can’t soon hope to eclipse the High Street in terms of production and product output, it seems advertising has become more ubiquitous online as the UK is forecast to become the first country to spend more on online advertising than advertising anywhere else.

    In terms of growth, E-Commerce has a steady increase of 30% a year, every year, making it the largest growing part of the retail industry itself, according to a study taken by the Democratization of E-Commerce Report, which enlisted the research of over 55,000 clients. It appears the countdown to New Year, is indeed a count up to E-Commerce success.

    For further reading, visit the links below:

    Retail Sales Set To Reach 24 Trillion 2015

    The UK Is Obsessed With E-Commerce

    E-Commerce Will Hit 2 Trillion In Sales In 2015


  7. John Lewis’ Winter Statistics

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    Further to our Black Friday blog in December, which showed Black Friday breaking records year-on-year, retail giant, John Lewis, have reported record sales in the lead up to Christmas.

    John Lewis has reported their Black Friday week brought the company “its biggest trading week on record, with sales up 22%” on 2013. The sales during Black Friday outpaced the week of trading in the run-up to Christmas showing the changing trend in how UK shoppers purchase their holiday gifts. The statistics show that UK shoppers are now more likely to purchase their Christmas presents during the week of Black Friday rather than the week or two before Christmas Day.

    Furthermore, John Lewis’ statistics show that during the five week shopping period, “total like-for-like sales rose 4.8% to £777m, with shop sales flat, but online purchases up 19%.” which shows the growth of eCommerce sales once again for a further year. Interestingly John Lewis reported that “Click-and-collect represented 56% of online sales” overtaking home delivery, showing the increasing trend of shoppers browsing/purchasing their products online before coming into the physical store. However Andy Street, John Lewis’ managing director also stresses the importance of a physical store:

    Despite the big jump in online shopping, Mr Street said establishing a physical shop presence was key to winning internet customers, because they frequently browsed products before ordering online.”

    In terms of the types of products sold this year, John Lewis reported that electrical and home technology were most popular with a 6.8% year-on-year rise for the Christmas period. Homeware rose 2.3% on 2013 and fashion and beauty were up 7.8%, which was helped by “very strong” online trading.

    With the increasing trend of online sales year-on-year, it’s even more important for businesses to guarantee that their eCommerce platform is robust and secure including the use of website statistics, a well designed website and a secure payment gateway ensuring the business and customers’ transactions are safe.

    Source


  8. Retail Sales 2014

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    ecommerce-786x305

    2014’s been a great year for retail with sales expecting to hit $22 trillion.

    Market research company, eMarketers predict that this figure will increase by 5.5 percent and ‘is projected to hit $28.3 trillion’. This figure includes a breakdown across 22 countries. Ecommerce is growing year on year in popularity,

    When it comes to retail products and services purchased on the Internet, e-commerce will account for 5.9 percent of the total retail market worldwide in 2014, or $1.316 trillion. By 2018, that share will increase significantly to 8.8 percent, yet retail e-commerce will still account for just a fraction of in-store purchases even as it nears $2.5 trillion by the end of our forecast.”

    The two countries leading the way in eCommerce sales are China and the US with a combined total of 55 percent of internet retail sales. While they are currently close, China is expected to grow in the next 5 years and become the global leader in eCommerce sales.

    While eCommerce is certainly growing in popularity every year, brick-and-mortar stores are still the majority choice by consumers.

    Approximately 63 percent of the U.S. population will make a digital purchase this year, yet only 6.5 percent of U.S. retail sales are expected to come from Internet transactions, increasing to 8.9 percent by 2018. In other words, a majority of U.S. consumers are making purchases online, but more than $10 out of every $11 are still spent in stores.”

    Leading the way for eCommerce sales is the UK with 11.6 percent of total retail sales being eCommerce, which is 3% higher than China’s. This shows the popularity of digital and eCommerce sales in the UK compared to the rest of the world.

    Source


  9. Black Friday Stats

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    hang-tags-234566_1280

    This year’s Black Friday is now over, but how did it do?

    Amazon UK reported busiest day on record this year. The website had orders of over 5.5 million, with 64 items being sold per second. This beats last year’s record of 4 million items sold for the UK e-retailer and shows the growing popularity of Black Friday in the UK.

    “Ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year-on-year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations.

    “The public’s appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar.”

    John Lewis also saw an increase in website traffic this year compared to last with a 307% rise compared to 2013. They reported that the most popular items sold that day were iPad minis and food processors. Other retailers, such as PC World had website traffic ‘increasing five fold from last year’. Many retailers, such as Curry’s, had to place queues on their websites because their servers were overloaded with waits of over 30 minutes long. Other websites that struggled with server demand were TescoDirect, Argos and John Lewis.

    As well as online, many physical retailers also sold a large amount of goods. Asda sold 8000 televisions in an hour and over a thousand BMXs by 9am.

    Black Friday’s getting bigger every year in the UK, showing the increasing popularity of pre-Christmas sales.

    SOURCE


  10. Mastercard and Visa Plan To Drop Passwords in Online Payments

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    Safe banking

    Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve entered all your payment details, gone to pay and then been asked for a password you can’t remember? Well good news, Mastercard and Visa announced last week that they plan to drop the need for customers to remember passwords and make the experience more secure and less frustrating.

     

    So how do they plan on doing this?

     

    3D Secure 2.0, Fingerprints and One-Time Passwords

    Initially, streamlining the experience involves Mastercard and Visa co-creating a new authentication standard which ‘will be the largest wholesale upgrade to online payment security’ known currently as 3D Secure 2.0. This upgrade will not only benefit consumers, but also merchants and banks by involving fewer password prompts and invisible authentication.

    digital_fingerpint1

    Analysts predict that by 2018, mobile devices will make up 30% of all online payments. With this growing trend, the companies also plan on incoporating these devices into their new standard by using cardholder data to make the process of paying more streamlined. In the event that consumers’ payment request needs authenticating, they will be able to identify themselves with one-time passwords or even their own fingerprints removing the need to remember or store a password.

    “All of us want a payment experience that is safe as well as simple, not one or the other,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard. “We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember. We have too many passwords to remember and this creates extra problems for consumers and businesses.”

     

    These upgrades are expected to begin rolling out as soon as 2015 and will gradually replace the current 3D Secure consumers see today.

    SOURCE