Cashless Stadiums – Where we are in 2018
Steve McArdle, Business Development Director at Verteda, discusses the growing advances towards cashless stadiums and highlights the role the venues themselves must play in making this the ‘norm’.
Cashless isn’t going away – despite the industry talking about it for a number of years now, we’re still not at a point where the majority of retailers and stadiums have embraced cashless payment systems. In fact, we are nowhere near the halfway point.
There’s been a definite swing towards cashless stadiums in 2018, and cashless retail in general, over the course of the past year. We are seeing more and more high-street stores saying they are moving to a completely ‘cashless’ experience, and the prevalence of easy-to-access card payment devices and apps means that customers are expecting to use their debit or credit card in more situations, whether that’s at a restaurant, a stadium or even on a market stall. Cashless is quickly becoming the norm.
However, in general, stadia are not keeping up with the same rate of cashless innovation adoption as the retail sector. In retail, over 50% of transactions are completed by card 1 , however, in the stadia sector, many stadiums’ card transaction percentage is at around the 20% – 30% level.
One of the reasons for this is that the act of going to a football match is one of tradition for many people. Think about the average football fan’s entire visit to a stadium. They probably use a card to pay for their petrol on the way to the stadium, perhaps bought something from the club merchandise shop with their card, but then drew out cash to pay for drinks and food once they were at the stadium. But why the change to cash once they reach the stadium? Why do we see these transactions differently?
Changing the way we view ‘cash’ at venues and events
Moving to cashless in the stadium sector requires a cultural change, and it’s up to stadiums to drive this change forward and be confident in pushing cashless payment solutions and facilities to help make this move quicker for their fans.
Verteda have worked with some stadiums where we took the level of card usage within the stadium’s retail units from less than 10% to 85% after implementing our solutions. The key to success was about getting the message out to fans before they came to the match about how there would be more opportunities to use their card at the venue instead of cash, and that they should expect to see lots of ‘card-only’ lanes and till points. Once people were made aware before the day, they could come prepared with their cards instead of cash.
And the benefits for the stadia are numerous.
The benefits of a cashless stadium
We’ve seen lots of reports where the average customer spend per visit to a stadium event can increase by as much as 25% when using a card payment instead of cash.
Additionally, the time to serve each customer is reduced – and if you think there is a very short window of time within a match when customers are wanting to be served, increasing the number of customers served in a 15-minute window can have a huge impact on the revenue numbers at the end of the day, and also improves the experience for fans who aren’t having to wait in long queues.
There’s also a labour cost saving, as we’ve seen venues save up to 2 hours per day per staff member if they aren’t having to set up a cash float at the beginning of the day, and aren’t having to count the cash at the end of the day due to everything being digitised and ready to go as soon as the till is turned on, with all transactions reconciled automatically.
A big part of the move to cashless transactions across stadiums is tackling the issue of fraud and theft amongst employees. Unfortunately, the sector has to contend with the fact that there is a degree of theft that occurs, especially amongst a more transient workforce.
By moving to cashless payments, the opportunity to steal from the POS terminal is highly reduced, and if there are any strange payment anomalies, then it’s much easier to see that as a digital transaction compared to trying to track where physical cash has gone.
Get to know your customer
Cashless transactions also enable the stadium to enter into a long-term digital relationship with their purchasers, gaining a better understanding of where and what fans are purchasing to deliver more personalised offers and improve their service delivery. By harnessing analytics to offer insights about what payment data is telling stadiums, operators can use transaction information to improve the customer experience, spot patterns and uncover the true ‘value of the customer’.
Some of the stadiums we are working with are now using loyalty cards, which can be pre-loaded with funds, so that if you don’t want to take your debit card to the stadiums, or perhaps you’re taking your son and daughter to a match and want to give them a spending limit for the day, you can use a pre-paid card, which then acts as a loyalty programme also. This helps with tracking spend and delivering offers to fans, such as being entered into raffles for merchandise if spend is above a certain level. It’s also a way for stadiums to give back to their most loyal customers, in return for the data they collect.
Verteda’s extensive experience in the stadia and hospitality sector means we can work with our clients to constantly push the boundaries of innovation across payment solutions, finding easier ways for customers to purchase, and more efficient and dynamic payment options for retailers to offer out to fans. Our innovations across app development to enable fans to order from their seat through to loyalty cards that bring together a single customer view of the fan are helping our stadium clients to realise huge leaps forward in terms of moving to more efficient non-cash payment methods. We’re also working with organisations to offer customers the opportunity to identify themselves and pay with just their finger!
Taking cashless forward
Stadiums are continuing to innovate by looking at self-service tills at arenas and venues which are cashless for purchasing merchandise, tickets and even ordering food and beverages. We’re used to using self-service checkouts at airports and supermarkets – so why not at the stadium?
And apps, such as Qjacker from Verteda, which enable you to order and pay from your phone so you never have to leave your seat, help with migrating customers away from using cash. Using apps to pay instead of cash is becoming the norm, and stadiums will start to see the app-pay effect impacting on their cash-card ratios. For example, in 2018, it’s expected that 23.4 million people will use an app to pay for Starbucks purchases, up from 20.7 million in 2017 2. Stadiums can leverage this trend and develop more comprehensive loyalty programmes in the process – delivering benefits for both stadium operations and fans.
Find out more about what Verteda are doing with cashless payment initiatives by visiting: http://www.verteda.com/solutions/payment-solutions and for further information on Verteda’s order-by-app service, go to: http://www.verteda.com/solutions/qjacker
About Steve McArdle
Steve McArdle is Business Development Director at Verteda, a leading technology partner to the sports and hospitality sectors.
Verteda are one of the many industry leaders – including 3D Digital, AVIXA, Elevate Sports Ventures, Levy Restaurants, Camatic Seating, IHS, IronHide Seating Solutions, Smart Buffet Ware and Fund Raiser Sports – that will be taking part in Europe’s first Premium Seat event, ALSD International, being held in Central London this October, 11-12.
For further information on ALSD International, go to: www.ALSDInternational.com or view the latest speaker lineup and conference sessions by clicking on the PDF below…
ALSD Int. Program 2018_July_Europe-2