Being a small fish in a big pond is never easy.
For SMBs in particular, staying competitive in their respective markets, while also trying not to be totally eclipsed by bigger merchants, takes a lot of work.
Five years ago, Stockholm-based iZettle launched with the desire to help, starting with payments and data and an mPOS solution geared to the offline microbusinesses that many, at the time called “Europe’s Square.”
Over the course of those five years, iZettle has expanded its offerings to also help small and micro merchants manage their offline businesses better and stay relevant in a constantly evolving retail and payments space.
With a reported 1,000 new businesses being introduced to iZettle’s service every day, and an annual processing volume of €3 billion, today the company is servicing both the very green and more mature merchants that are looking to attain the omnichannel vision.
“Four or five years ago everything [in the mPOS space] was centered around payments, providing acceptance and empowering SMBs,” iZettle co-founder and CEO Jacob de Geer explained.
But the ongoing FinTech and bank disruption, de Geer explained, has opened the door for iZettle to provide a variety of financial services to small businesses on its existing platform.
“Now what fascinates me is really that this whole concept has moved from being payments-only into something that is much bigger,” he added.
DELIVERING MORE TO SMBs
Today, in celebration of the company’s 5th birthday, iZettle is launching a host of new features and capabilities designed to help bridge the widening gap between the online and offline worlds for SMBs, building on solutions like Advance that extends credit to qualifying iZettle merchants.
It will launch a new pricing model: 1 percent per transaction – the only cost that iZettle merchants pay.
Its new Customer data collection tool will help small business owners establish, build and deepen relationships with their customers. The capability enables SMBs to collect customer email addresses at the end of a sale and later configure into crafted campaigns to those consumers to help foster engagement.
De Geer remarked that it’s one thing for these small brick-and-mortar businesses to sell things and get paid using a digital form of payment. But it’s finding customers that’s the pain point. Their struggle is just getting a legitimate email address in order to make the contact in the first place, not to mention knowing who just presented their card to pay for something and how to get in touch with them again.
“That's the first step for us in terms of coming to market with a stronger loyalty offering for SMBs, to actually get a direct access to their customers and to be able to talk to them in a more informed and specific way,” he noted.
ESTABLISHING THE mPOS VIRTUOUS CIRCLE
In recent years, de Geer noted that iZettle’s customer base has expanded to include larger, more established businesses that are moving away from other platforms. He said the higher demand bigger merchants that want to use the solution is a great thing, but it also brings on additional pressure.
"From a software perspective, it’s determining where we need to add more features to be able to accommodate their needs but also when moving up the value chain, you often need to adjust your pricing to get those merchants, otherwise they will look for better pricing from traditional players," de Geer said.
Though iZettle has already expanded into 12 global markets, de Geer said that, for now, the focus will remain on the company’s products and solutions rather than making another geographical expansion.
He admits that “a lot of markets look good on paper,” but the bandwidth and effort required to actually move into those markets is extremely demanding.
What continues to grow is the profile of iZettle’s SMB customer, and their own businesses. De Geer says that its SMBs grow at a rate of 15 percent a year – nearly 5 times the EU average – because iZettle can offer them the tools and technologies they need to keep their businesses growing and their customers engaged.
As their SMB customers grow, de Geer pointed out, there have been more possibilities and opportunities for iZettle to grow too – by cross-selling and promoting a wide range of services to a segment of merchants that is sorely underserved. This “virtuous circle” has seen iZettle’s growth accelerate as it accommodates the needs of the SMBs it serves and they continue to grow.
THE GREAT mPOS CONSOLIDATION
In a challenging market that doesn’t keep still for long, many mPOS players are consolidating in order to just survive.
“This business is a volume-based business that is capital intensive, and you need to find each and every customer and that costs money,” de Geer explained. “On top of that, you have hardware which creates even more capital pressures.”
In the very capital-intensive mPOS space – where offline continues to be a “very different creature” compared to online – de Geer said that we will continue to see consolidations as well as players going under due to a general lack of funds.
“I still think that some of the older internet companies, the likes of Google, PayPal, Facebook, etc., at some point, will start looking for acquisitions in this part of payments as well," he added.