The Phygital Future

Exploring how a brand like Mastercard has evolved within a changing retail environment

At PSFK’s Future of Retail 2019 Conference, Piers Fawkes (CEO and founder of PSFK) interviewed Cheryl Guerin (Mastercard’s EVP of North America Marketing & Communications) to discuss how to develop a physical and digital retail experience for consumers.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the interview.

The Phygital Space

Consumers are interchangeably using digital and physical throughout the day. For example, they may buy something in store and then order ahead to get their morning coffee. Retailers are learning to respond to consumers’ demands. Over the holiday season, retailers coordinated their digital inventory to keep track of what was happening in the physical store. In this way, they are working to become fully omnichannel.

Mastercard has found another way to play with the phygital space through its Priceless Cities program. It allows them to partner with retailers to create unique and memorable experiences for their cardholders. For example, one can pay $100 online to take an in-person private cooking class with a chef. In doing so, Mastercard is able to help people move through physical and digital spaces seamlessly.

Evolution of Technology in Retail

With the evolution of technology, consumers are now living in a world where they can have more immersive experiences. Augmented reality helps drive greater retail engagement and virtual reality, in the form of voice assistance, can help the consumer in their day to day. Approximately 32% of voice assistant technology is being used in people’s homes. The adoption rate for VR is astounding and needs to be taken seriously by marketers looking to connect with the consumer.

Mastercard is working with Next Retail Concepts to develop an immersive online experience. The idea is to allow consumers to digitally browse racks as if they are in a physical store rather than click through pages of product. They can browse this upscale environment and even pay as they shop.

Improving the Payment Experience

As technology evolves, Mastercard is looking for ways to improve the payment experience. For instance, in the physical space, there will be more contactless cards being distributed in the U.S. allowing for users to just tap and go. In the digital space, they will be rolling out SRC, standard remote commerce, that will allow users to have a more seamless online experience without having to remember passwords and other credentials.

While simplifying the experience, Mastercard maintains security as a top priority. In 2017, they launched Selfie Pay, which uses uses biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition to ensure the cardholder’s identity. For example, when making a large payment online, instead of getting declined, the user can snap a picture of themselves to get approved. In this way, the consumer feels safe making payments in a digital space.

Mastercard sees themselves as a technology company versus a financial services company. Their goal is to understand consumers and better their card products to give the user the best experience at a retail level. They have identified ways to evolve their brand to adapt to the dynamic retail landscape and will continue to grow to match these needs.

*Source: PSFK

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