Epay regional director EMEA Jason Thompson talks us through the future of digital products on the High Street.
Why are products like digital points cards becoming such a popular product for retailers to stock?
The shift from physical boxed product to digital is well under way with Point of Sale Activation (POSA) and ESD products providing multi channel solutions. Whilst slightly different in execution, both have the same benefits to the channel.
Just in time delivery and activation prevents the need for advance purchase, eliminates in-store shrinkage though theft and allows the partners to greatly increase their category selection to include slower selling products.
With consumers across EMEA conversant with digital code redemption there is simply little or no downside to transitioning from the more costly and less environmentally friendly physical product. Why would a retailer not participate in an established category that consumers already see today and has several financial benefits, too?
Digital remains a divisive topic amongst consumers but products such as pre-paid cards are gaining traction. Why are they proving popular?
Historically, this type of content was only accessible through proprietary channels such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. Game and GameStop led the way with innovative solutions utilizing POR (Pin on Receipt) offering the consumer new ways of purchasing content.
With the successes we have seen through the specialist retailers and expansion into convenience stores, mass merchants will further benefit the consumer allowing more accessibility. The consumer mantra of buy what you want, when and how you want wins through and demonstrates that consumers what multi channel access to digital products.
Introducing digital retail initiatives such as points cards and POR might be a realistic task for leading retailers like GAME and Gamestop. But what about smaller video games stores and independents? Are UK retailers really prepared to offer these services?
Yes, to a great degree this is in place and we see more and more products and services being added to the catalogue. But if you look at the independent space there is still more to do and the digital providers have a responsibility to deliver solutions that can reach the majority of the channel and serve the consumer need.
So how difficult is it for these smaller stores to become involved with digital?
The move to digital retail is quick, simple and easy for retailers. There is a range of multi-channel POS options available from us that facilitate seamless transactions, such as a physical handheld terminal, integration in to existing EPOS till systems and WebPOS, which allows for online transactions.
POS is installed with no interruption to trading and allows retailers to sell POSA and gain the benefits straight away. ESD is a little more complex dependent on the retailer's technology but again nothing that cannot be solved easily.
Given the convenience digital provides, why should a consumer go for a pre-paid card over a digital download or email code?
Many consumers are still not comfortable with sharing and storing personal details online.
POSA cards and PIN on receipt products offer the consumer the comfort of knowing their personal details are safe. The products can be purchased in-store using a range of payment methods and the product or value is then redeemed online removing the need to enter personal bank details. They allow the consumers to make a product purchase in a physical environment and ultimately, it brings online shoppers back in to store and creates relevance for the traditional channels.
We also see a behaviour where consumers use the purchase in-store as a method of budget control for other members of the family at home or away and simply will not associate a credit card to the account.
Do you a vision a future in game retail where the products available are strictly pre-paid cards and digital downloads?
I think it is hard to see a day when everything is digital but I still ask myself, why not? Speed to market, cost and consumer interaction is all improved so simply why would we not go 100 per cent digital?
As we drive solutions into the independent specialist and convenience channels there is a significant chance this will happen.