The Rapid Pace of Change in Payments: Q&A with Ubamarket

Payment solutions have come a long way from cash and chip-and-pin, and high-profile technology, such as Amazon Go, is making it one of the most watched areas of retail. In this interview, RetailTechNews speaks to Will Broome (pictured below), CEO & founder, Ubamarket, who are bringing this sort of technology to the UK, to understand why change is required when it comes to payments.

RetailTechNews: How does Ubamarket work?

Will Broome: Ubamarket provides retailers with their own white label ‘scan and go’ in-store system, which requires no hardware. The in-store app also guides shoppers to their items, enables them to scan as they shop, provides automatic loyalty, and has an in-app payment system.

By helping remove friction from the shopping experience, retailers will reduce costs, see more frequent store visits from shoppers, greater offer uptake, and larger basket sizes.

What was the inspiration behind setting the company up?

Ubamarket initially came from the desire to remove friction from the in-store customer experience. Five years ago, I would navigate supermarkets via shopping lists in text messages and thought “wouldn’t it be cool if this list magically rearranged itself into the correct order?” and that’s where the journey began! We then embarked upon years of research and development, including bespoke national surveys into shopping habits. National research published in the Ubamarket Retail Trends Report 2018 shows that 71% of us dislike shopping for groceries online but that 66% are frustrated by the in-store shopping experience.

Will Broome, CEO & founder, Ubamarket

Our in-store technology programme is all about enhancing the existing in-store experience, which we have continued to work hard to develop over the past couple of years. Our strategy is to help customers with every aspect of their journey, creating a completely personalised experience, every time – from the moment they create their shopping list right through to checking out, helping to facilitate a fast, efficient, cost effective, easy, and enjoyable journey around participating stores.

What has been your biggest challenge?

During our first year of testing we encountered all sorts of challenges, some expected and some decidedly unexpected. Some of the biggest have been related to the customer experience, which has to be simple and flawless, despite the huge complexities of the app behind the scenes. The Ubamarket solution does absolutely everything via three simple buttons: list, scan, and checkout. Everything else is automatic and there are no dead ends! If you write a list and then change your mind during your shop, that’s absolutely fine and the app will support it automatically. Offers are taken into account automatically, as is loyalty, so the shopper no longer needs to think about anything but shopping, safe in the knowledge that they’ll never miss or forget an offer and that their basket will incorporate the best combination of offers, every time.

In addition to this, making sure that absolutely everything scans, every time was key. To achieve this, we built our own proprietary scanning technology – customers don’t need to tap to scan, as it all happens automatically. The app also recognises every type of barcode logic, from variable weight to greetings card codes, and everything else besides.

The final challenge is initial user uptake, especially in stores where the demographic is a little older. Interestingly, we find that once a customer has used the app there’s more than a 90% chance they’ll use it again. We have a simple user uptake strategy and the necessary collateral to enable retailers to adopt it and start reaping the benefits of the app from the outset.

What are the biggest challenges facing the omnichannel retail sector right now?

Traditionally, there has been a clear divide between in-store and online retail and, until now, they have remained almost entirely separate entities, with ‘click and collect’ being the only tangible link. As a result, for years the in-store experience, from a technical perspective, has been universally neglected in favour of retailers investing in websites and online shopping services. Research clearly shows that consumers like the immediate convenience of in-store shopping, particularly in the grocery sector. The biggest challenge for omnichannel now is to quickly deliver the advantages of online retail to the shop floor, which is something that even the largest online retailers are keen to perfect – Amazon Go being the most high-profile example. The key is to remove all the annoying aspects of in-store – namely queueing, forgetting what you came in for, not being able to locate products, forgetting your loyalty card, losing your receipts, not knowing what the best offer combos are, and losing track of spend. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all for a truly seamless omnichannel experience is that, whatever solution is chosen, it needs to solve everything – or it might as well solve nothing!

What can we expect to see from Ubamarket over the next 12 months?

The key to the ongoing success of Ubamarket is a continuous development programme so that we stay at the very forefront of technology. We are already underway with the fourth phase of development which includes voice recognition, ‘allergy alerts’™, and several other new features. One of the many advantages retailers gain from working with Ubamarket is that they’ll always benefit from a crowd-based, cumulative approach of user feedback and will, therefore, have access to boundary-pushing next-gen features, safe in the knowledge that they’ll always remain one step ahead of the market in line with what customers actually want.