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E-commerce—not just payments but a bigger picture

Watch Bruce Billson and Rich Wormald discuss how the traditional ‘transaction’ focus of e-commerce has evolved to an ‘intelligence’ gathering process.
BRUCE BILLSON: Rich Wormald, Mastercard’s Division President for Australasia, thank you for joining us today. Rich, you’ve shared with me the kind of data analytics that are available through Mastercard and how they can provide great insights for SME decision making. Can you share with me and the audience what it is that you actually can learn by looking at payment related data and information?
RICAHRD WORMALD: What many small businesses don’t realise is that payments data that they capture through the course of their normal business, we see that in real time, all around the world, billions of transactions every hour. And that actually gives us a really good insight into what consumers are doing today, what kind of behaviours and trends are emerging that might help small businesses tomorrow. And so by taking that data and then putting it together with some digital marketing tools, is a great way for small businesses to start improving the performance of their business.
BRUCE BILLSON: E-commerce has a payment dimension that lets us know when a transaction is concluded. What insights can we gain from e-commerce payment information that gives us insights about when customers are active and how we can best engage with them?
RICAHRD WORMALD: So if you start with some really basic problems in small business, such as what hours to open my shop, what kind of ranging to have in store, what kind of channels to go to market on? You can answer many of these questions just using the payments data. And so the way we use it, we look at a store and we look at the surrounding stores. And we’ll start to see when sales pick up and drop off. And that can be really insightful to determine should you open an hour earlier, should you open an hour later, what would the benefits be of opening on Sundays? And that’s just in terms of the basic labour model for the store.
And then when you think about, well, who’s coming into the store, we could then start to look at am I attracting new customers? Are they coming from my competitors? Or are they new to the area? And also whether I’m losing customers then that might influence, then, my choice of marketing investment, my pricing strategy, my labour strategy. And all of that comes from looking at the payments data.
BRUCE BILLSON: How does an SME tap into this information, whether by MasterCard or some other payment or card platform, and to obtain information that’s usable by their SME to help shape their business and improve their prospects of future success?
RICAHRD WORMALD: Yep. So two ways. First, through the bank that offers you your payment terminal. Many of the banks actually have analytics services that use the payments data and turn it into simple reporting.
BRUCE BILLSON: So ask the question about your bank about what might be available for them.
RICAHRD WORMALD: Yeah. That’s right. Second place is come to us directly. So we offer services like our Retail Location Insights Platform, which offers small business a simple way to understand their performance relative to their competitors in the market, and then provide simple recommendations in a contextual way using artificial intelligence to then recommend where they should start to improve.
BRUCE BILLSON: So a bit of a like for like business comparison, and then some insights about opportunities to improve prospects for success.
RICAHRD WORMALD: That’s right. So we categorise businesses into similar types. So if you’re running a coffee shop, we’d be comparing to similar businesses in the local area. We’d be able to see the basket size, the number of transactions, and whether those are new customers coming in or existing customers leaving. And that insight, in a very simple way, can help you understand what to do next in your business.
BRUCE BILLSON: What do you see as the future of the payments platforms and technologies? And what opportunities do you see an SME might reach for that they can apply within their business to support their success?
RICAHRD WORMALD: It’s a really exciting time in payments. So there are two things I can see coming relatively quickly. The first is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning onto the data sets to provide recommendations in plain English for small businesses. So it’s bringing the power that currently big businesses have with large analytics teams down into the accessibility of a small business. So that’s one area that I think will be really, really interesting. The second is actually the growth of e-commerce. And we’re seeing many very small businesses able to compete with larger business by developing their own e-commerce site and then using digital marketing to go and attract new customers.
And in that space, we’re actually building a new digital marketing platform using the payments data. So a small business can configure an offer. They might target to new customers. That offer can be presented through customers’ banking applications. And then they can redeem the offer using their existing payment card. So it’s a way of turning the payments data that the business captures into a new marketing channel to allow them to grow their business.
BRUCE BILLSON: An exciting time for SMEs, the whole payments place, digital engagement. We’re really grateful, Rich, you could spend some time with us today. And good luck with those challenges and being a great ally for small business.
RICAHRD WORMALD: Pleasure to be here.
The traditional ‘transaction’ focus of e-commerce has evolved from a show-select-pay-deliver platform to an ‘intelligence’ gathering process.
For many years, businesses with a primarily retail focus have been urged to showcase their range of wares, competitive prices and delivery responsiveness by way of a vibrant and fresh e-commerce platform.
While this primary motivation for e-commerce engagement remains, a powerful secondary purpose has emerged. How prospective customers move through an e-commerce site can tell a business a lot about what’s on-trend and in-demand – informing stock selection and presentation.
A decision to buy can also tell a business a lot about customer preferences and how best to align a business’s activities with this customer behaviour to optimise prospects for success.
If a significant number of customers are searching for and buying at a particular time and having considered a particular range of options, a digitally engaged SME can make sure its opening hours, social media outreach and discounts and special offers are timed and tuned to when and how customers are most receptive.

Your task

Discuss the transaction intelligence identified by Rich Wormald in the video in terms of what insights would be most useful for your SME.
Share what you might do within your business to make use of this intelligence.
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