A Thing
The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 28, 2015 • Issue 15:12:02

The very point of sale:
Tools of the tradeoff

By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC

Minute by minute, day by day, the decisions we make chart the course of our lives. Decisions are the engines that power careers, relationships and projects. Most involve choosing between two or more options. Some, like selecting an entrée from a restaurant menu, are relatively routine. Others, such as choosing a prospective life partner, involve higher emotional stakes.

Motivational books are filled with examples of people who make smart choices, paragons of virtue who never check their email in the morning and smoothly navigate personal issues and workplace challenges. Studies of top performing people have identified common traits, such as the ability to prioritize, achieve work-life balance and leverage personal talents. These qualities are critically important in the always-on, always-connected world, analysts say.

"The new world of work presents us with a continuous series of knots that need to be untangled," wrote Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-mail In the Morning and Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work. "Each time you are faced with too much to do and not enough time, it's easy to feel paralyzed with indecision."

From cradle to chief executive consumer

Many people are unaware of the ramifications of their day-to-day decisions. They learn as babies how to get what they want when they want it; many never lose that gift. IBM coined the phrase 'Chief Executive Consumer' to describe today's savvy shoppers who leverage mobile technologies and social media to get their best deals online and in stores.

"[T]hose individuals expect more from the brands they do business with, not just service, but hyper-personalized service," IBM wrote in Welcome to the Era of the Chief Executive Consumer. "Forward-thinking marketers are connecting the universe of transactional, social, service and search data to build new levels of customer visibility and understanding, and are then making more precise decisions about whom to reach."

Trading privacy for offers

Modern conveniences frequently come with hidden fees. Does a Chief Executive Consumer ever consider the real price of an opt-in retail offer or the role that data brokers play in the mobile payments universe? Every time a shopper opts in to a mobile offer, checks in to a favorite club via geolocation or uses a search engine to look up a product, those bits of data are compiled into a dimensional profile of individual and tribal consumer behavior.

"Google has a single, unified, highly detailed picture of you and everything you do across its Googleverse," wrote Marc Goodman, author of Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It. Goodman, a career law enforcement and technology professional, maintains that Google can leverage its rich hoards of consumer data to command top dollar from advertisers. "If it wasn't abundantly clear previously, you are not Google's customer; you are its product," he wrote. "That's why you don't get a bill."

Trading convenience for security

Considering the prevalence of various forms of data security fraud, waiting a few more seconds to complete a chip card transaction would seem a small price to pay for enhanced cardholder security. Not according to a recent survey by Harbortouch Payments LLC. Survey respondents objected to nominally longer transaction times associated with smart cards.

Harbortouch Chief Executive Officer Jared Isaacman stated, "On average, it takes between seven to 10 seconds to pay using a chip card versus two to three seconds to pay using a traditional swipe credit card. A majority of the 5,000 consumers polled valued speed over convenience at retail checkout, with 44 percent open to exploring in-line checkout options to reduce wait times at stores.

Informed customers

The adage, "When you get to a fork in the road, take it," might apply to many consumers. They don't overthink things. Whether their decisions are based on research, gut feel or a combination of both, they make choices and move on.

Others become less decisive as they mature. When confronted with a problem, they solicit outside advice, weigh potential consequences and agonize over what to do. When they finally take action, they almost immediately feel a sense of regret and try to reverse their decision. Merchant level salespeople (MLSs) call this buyer's remorse syndrome. We all experience buyer's remorse on occasion when we realize that we chose too hastily, without reviewing all the facts.

In today's fast-paced business environment, many merchants and consumers would argue that they don't have time to fully educate themselves on their options when it comes to using and accepting electronic payment transactions. They rely on other people's opinions, people they trust who will cut to the chase and tell them which option to choose. But what if their trusted advisers are also taking shortcuts? Where does it end?

Trusted advisers

Collective behavior frequently mirrors individual human behavior, as societies and groups attempt to interpret legal statutes and craft meaningful legislation. As the United States enters an election year, millions of individuals are reviewing candidates, trying to separate individual competencies and accomplishments from campaign rhetoric.

Voters are seeing a remarkable diversity of approaches to governance in the months leading up to the nominations. Some will vote along party lines; others will study each candidate's point of view and how it aligns with their own priorities and interests.

Small business owners generally don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish mission-critical objectives, much less vet presidential candidates or choose the best credit card processing systems. They delegate tasks to people they trust, people who they believe are most qualified to advise them on different aspects of managing a business.

In a perfect world, these merchants would choose MLSs to help them make informed decisions about what processing systems would be best for their businesses. If they consider speed and low price to be the most important criteria, they're obviously unaware of the myriad ways in which emerging payment technologies can enrich retail and hospitality environments and create new revenue streams. The MLS's challenge is to demonstrate why payment card security is more important than speed and why quality is more important than price.

end of article

Dale S. Laszig, Staff Writer at The Green Sheet and Managing Director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content provider. She can be reached at dale@dsldirectllc.com and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

Prev Next
A Thing