How local stores need support in the wake of high street bank closures
As card payments and online banking continue to rise, Britain’s high street banks are facing closure. Research suggests that two local branches have shut shop every day for the past three years. And, with RBS recently announcing the closure of 162 physical branches, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. For local towns and high streets, this poses a problem, as it becomes increasingly difficult for consumers and merchants to access and manage cash.
Traditionally, many small businesses would only deal exclusively in cash, a whopping three million* in the UK alone. Owing to rental prices on payment terminals, facilitating card payments can often be too expensive to maintain when operating on small margins. Yet not having access to a local bank, means these retailers are not only missing out on possible revenues streams but they now need to also travel to a different town during business hours to pay in takings. Leading to additional expenses, missed interest and other threats such as theft if cash is left on the premises.
As large retailers lead the charge, offering more payment options and increased technology within stores, it’s not just bank closures putting pressures on local, high street stores. Today’s consumer is used to a seamless, integrated shopping experience, whether in-store or online.
In July this year, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that with cash no-longer being the most popular payment method, card payments accounted for 54% of retail transactions and almost 75% of total sales in the UK. In addition, demonstrating our desire for fast convenience, contactless payments were up 121.9% in April 2018, compared to the same period the previous year.
Now a more connected and contactless nation, reliance on payment terminal uptime is paramount. It’s not enough to simply accept card payments onsite anymore, with research suggesting that non-functioning payment devices leave one-in-three customers unable to complete a purchase. Even with more payment options in place, retailers must ensure they are working in order to enhance the customer experience.
Bank closures and changing customer expectations will undoubtedly result in a shake-up of the payment industry and retail environments, but how can independent merchants be supported during the transition?
For starters, as facilitating card payments becomes the only convenient option, technology providers will need to ensure that devices, and the supporting software, is affordable, dependable and user-friendly. Two-thirds of consumers report experiencing failing card machines on at least one occasion. For small organisations, this could easily result in lost customers and business. And if card is the only option, it’s even more important that devices are functioning.
With any new installation, device maintenance must be considered to minimise faulty technology, negative shopper experiences and lost sales. For small businesses, the support of the payment industry in increasing uptime isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. ByBox’s Switch service aims to mitigate the knock-on effects of retail device downtime, on the consumer, merchants and the payments industry. The service, which uses a network of App and Bluetooth controlled lockers in strategic locations, ensures same-day fixes via pre-positioned parts.
Britain’s high streets are changing. Stores, whether large or small, are under increased pressure to modernise in-store offerings. Customer demand and closing banks are resulting in independent retailers needing to keep pace with large, big-name chains.
In order for any store to succeed in this competitive, connected environment, they must adopt new technology with confidence in the reliability of such devices. Working with a provider that offers same-day fixes and ensures device uptime can help stores adapt to an increasingly cashless society while offering an enhanced customer experience.