The PYMNTS team caught up with experts in the payments field to ask them their views on industry trends, predictions for the coming year and what their ideal payments system looks like.
Sheryl Mckenzie, VP of Marketing for Product And Capabilities for Alliance Data Retail Services, spoke with us about trends across the retail ecosystem, what consumers are looking out of their shopping — and payment — experience, and how today's trends in retail are changing what's going to be seen in the industry next year.
PYMNTS: WHAT ARE THE BIG TRENDS YOU’RE SEEING IN PAYMENTS IN 2015?
SM: I think one of the biggest trends is how [retailers] can get their arms better around knowing who their customer is, regardless of the channel they are on. They do a great job of that if the customer is online. In-store, it's a little bit more difficult to do. I think you'll see more than one view of customer focus.
... As much as 18 months ago you didn't see as much interest in apps. You didn't see as much interest in in-store payments via mobile device. After the advent of Apple Pay, the industry has woken up. Retailers have now glommed on to it, and they are really focused on "how do I continue to own the customer and provide them with that type of mobile experience that deepens the loyalty, but is easy and convenient as well?" I think that is more than here to stay. It will take a few years yet for the adoption to really hit peak in my opinion, but that's one of the things that's going to continue to stay with us.
PYMNTS: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN THE SPACE THAT RETAILERS/CONSUMERS ARE STILL SEEING?
SM: I think that you have an ecosystem and the golden egg or silver bullet is when you are able to connect the customer to loyalty, to the ability to pay and keep it in the hands of the retailers. So some of the challenges are, of course, that Apple Pay isn't accepted everywhere. That's one challenge. But for the customer, they just want it to be as simple as possible. They don't necessarily want to leave a retailer's space to go somewhere else to do the payment. I think when you see retailers put apps out there that are about their brand and their offering and their value, it's going to their most loyal customers. So convenience is most certainly a great thing that Apple brought to the marketplace, but it hasn't connected the entire ecosystem just yet.
PYMNTS: WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR PAYMENTS FOR NEXT YEAR?
SM: I think that the big thing that you're going to continue to see is about how do you connect to the customer and how do you keep them engaged. ... I think what you're going to see in 2016 is greater and greater connectivity to who the customer is. We like to call it the "moments that matter" — getting to them in the moment when they are going to make that decision that matters. I think you are going to see a lot of that in 2016.