Pay with card to your hearts content
Owned by Sue Cummims, Heartfelt Inspirations stocks all of the bridal accessories and gifts you would need for every occasion. Helping her daughter plan her wedding back in 2012 was when the idea to start selling bridal merchandise first occurred to Sue.
“My daughter lives in Adelaide, so we were video calling and she was showing me a range of items she had bought for her wedding,” Said Sue. “I was shocked at the price of some of it and knew I could easily sell it cheaper!”
With that, Sue set up an eBay account and starting selling bridal and wedding merchandise, heading to and from a supplier in Melbourne daily to purchase stock and post out to people. Two and a half years later, Sue was making a small fortune on the side of her daytime job of being a welfare worker. After receiving a tax rebate, Sue realised she had enough money to open her own store. In April 2015, Sue began trading from her new premises in Kilsyth, Victoria.
“Over the first three or four days, we didn’t have many customers coming into the store and it wasn’t long until I realised the area we had opened in had a large population in the older demographic. I started to worry the wedding shop wouldn’t survive and rethought my strategy, evolving Heartfelt Inspirations’ offering to have a variety of gifts,” said Sue.
“We now stock gifts for any occasion you can think of, from christenings, birthdays and anniversaries. With there being a newsagents, florist and $2 dollar store nearby also selling gifts, we knew we had to offer something different for customers. We now even stock merchandise that can be personalised.”
Since opening her store, Sue has never enforced a minimum spend on customers who wish to pay by card. With up to 56% of customers choosing to visit a different store if met with payment restrictions*, this was a sensible choice by Sue, especially with competitive stores nearby.
“Times are hard and if somebody wants to spend just $5, I’m not going to turn them away for wanting to pay by card because it’s still a sale. I get a lot of elderly people in the store and I’d feel awful making them walk all the way over to the bank to withdraw cash.
“A lot of people do not carry cash on them nowadays and it’s a lot safer to be that way. It annoys me myself when I am a paying customer and I am met with a card restriction when I get to the checkout.
“I get a mix of customers paying by card and cash, but I think a greater convenience comes with paying by card. A lot of customers do ask if they may pay by card and if there’s a minimum spend, to which I tell them there’s not and they seem appreciative of that.”
*2017 survey commissioned by Mastercard
The Big Bun Bakery
Rolling out a Zero Minimum
Chasing the sunshine and subtropical climate, Ann and Tay Mehmet packed up their belongings and left Victoria for Bribie Island, just north of Brisbane back in 1993. Both having worked in bakeries previously, the idea of opening their own was something that had occupied their minds for some time. Before they knew it, The Big Bun Bakery was up and running and they and haven’t looked back since.
“My husband and I run our bakery with our son, Altan. We pride ourselves on being a family run business and bake everything on the premises. We offer many different products and services to our customers, from the freshest bread to custom made birthday cakes, and everything in-between. We also have great selection of sweet patisserie items,” said Ann.
“In the 25 years since opening, we have expanded the business to stock more than baked goods, serving light meals, freshly brewed coffee and sandwiches and rolls from our salad bar, offering our customers a dine-in or takeaway service. Not to forget, we also have our award winning pies!”
Ann and her family used to charge 50 cents to customers who opted to spend by card on purchases below $10 until two years ago when they decided to adopt a Zero Dollar minimum.
“At first we didn’t consider having a minimum spend a huge inconvenience to our customers, but we’d sometimes receive a few raised eyebrows and sighs, particularly on smaller purchases. As a business owner within a small community, the value of any purchase big or small is important, and both should be met with the same service experience,” said Ann.
“In turn, we felt the cost of an electronic transaction should not be the burden of the customer nor the reward for choosing to shop with us, so we decided to save everybody the headache and introduce a Zero Dollar minimum. Any charges we incur for card payments are quite easily covered by a few transactions from people that might easily go elsewhere.”
With up to 56% of customers choosing to visit another store or business* that doesn’t restrict card payments, businesses could be losing a significant amount of revenue which easily outweighs the fees of card transactions. Ann is not wrong in thinking that these charges are more than covered by a few transactions from customers that could potentially visit another business instead.
“Being a bakery we receive a lot of small transactions, such as people running in just to grab a pack of rolls or a pie. Customers still do ask if there is a minimum spend on card, but it’s much nicer to tell them we have a Zero Dollar minimum,” said Ann.
As Australia moves further into the cashless era with payment enabled devices such as mobile phones, watches and payment rings, businesses need to think ahead and ensure they are offering customers flexibility with how they pay, or risk losing revenue and being left behind.
A nugget of wisdom
In December 2016, Mohamed Sab and Moustasa El-Marsri partnered up to open Melbourne’s first Broaster chicken restaurant and take away service.
As part of the Broaster chicken franchise, Chipizz’s offering brings a special blend of ingredients and a unique cooking method to create the ultimate eating experience. Customers are provided with all of their chicken needs, from nuggets and burgers, to wings and popcorn chicken, as well as plenty of Italian cuisine such as pasta, salad and seafood.
“We opened Chipizz because there wasn’t anywhere in Melbourne that offered the distinctive taste of Broaster chicken; crispy on the outside while juicy and tender on the inside. We cook our chicken in a pressure cooker, a different method to just frying, and pride Chipizz on being a healthy fast food restaurant and take away,” said Mohamed.
The restaurant receives raving reviews from its customers, who have said it offers ‘the best broasted chicken in Melbourne, with super friendly staff and a very pleasant dining experience.’ Customers are able to walk in and grab a take away, or take a seat at the tables and make more of an occasion out of their visit.
Being a consumer himself, Mohamed has had to deal with the annoyances of not having enough cash on him and has faced card payment restrictions, something that 80% of Australians agree they resent.*
“I have always had a Zero Dollar minimum and have never considered limiting those who wish to pay by card. I find it frustrating when I go to a store and see a sign saying there is a minimum spend and I have to find something else to buy to meet this. I find it so much easier when there isn’t any restrictions when paying by card,” said Mohamed.
“We have a lot of customers who just pop in to grab a can of drink, or just a snack such as toast or some chips. I wouldn’t want to put the same frustration I experience on to my customers. Having a Zero Dollar minimum spend saves both myself and my customers from getting a headache.”
There are countless benefits to businesses to enforce a minimum dollar spend. Hygiene is improved with less cash handling, which is of particular importance in businesses handling food. The use of less cash also improves the safety of a business, with less cash being transported and handled reducing the chance of theft.
With up to 56% of Australians agreeing they would visit another store or business if met with payment restrictions, it’s time for businesses to follow Mohamed’s nugget of wisdom and abolish card restrictions.
*2017 survey commissioned by Mastercard
Taste of Africa Cafe & Deli
Sausage without spending limits
Lucas Campbell and Lee-Anne Romans opened Taste of Africa Cafe & Deli in March 2017. The business delivers on its promise – bringing exquisite tastes from over 10,000km away in South Africa to the suburb of Croydon, Melbourne.
The seed was planted for the business in January 2017. Lee-Anne’s father, who was visiting from South Africa, suggested the couple open a cafe in Melbourne. With Lucas’ excellent cooking skills and Lee-Anne’s experience running a successful events and catering company in South Africa, the idea made perfect sense.
“Before we knew it, in the space of a weekend we had viewed a property, met the owner and made the decision to take out a lease,” said Lucas. “By March, Taste of Africa Cafe & Deli was open.
“We offer customers dine-in breakfast and lunch menus at the cafe, including our Sanbonani Breakfast (Big Breakfast), Lekker Boerie Roll (like a snag, but better) and Amafutha Vetkoek (deep fried dough filled with curry mince), as well as a take-away service.
“At the deli, we stock a vast range of traditional products, which originate from South Africa. They include traditional boerewors sausage, South African jerky (biltong) and groceries. It is truly a unique experience for Melburnians!”
Since opening the business, Lucas and Lee-Anne have chosen not to limit the ways their customers can make payment. They proudly sport a zero dollar minimum.
“Our friends suggested enforcing a minimum card spend when we first opened,” explains Lucas. “However, I thought that this would be bad for business and I didn’t want to give any of our customers a negative experience. If somebody is popping in for a coffee or cold drink, I wouldn’t want to deny them this or irritate them because they aren’t carrying any cash.”
Lucas was right. A recent survey commissioned by Mastercard revealed that four out of five Australians resented restrictions such as minimum spends and charges when making payment by card. It means 80% of customers have had a negative experience in establishments that enforced these restrictions.*
“We have found that a lot of customers do ask when they come in if we have a minimum spend for card transactions,” Lucas said. “They all seem pleased when I tell them we don’t. Our card-to-cash ratio is around 70:30, so if we had a minimum spend, we could potentially put a lot of customers off coming back to the cafe. However now with no minimum spend in place, we have a steady flow of regulars we see time and time again.
“We do, of course, incur fees when customers make payments by card, but this isn’t of concern to us compared to the loss of business we could be experiencing if we did enforce a minimum spend.”
As Australia moves further towards a cashless society, it looks like Lucas, Lee-Anne and the Taste of Africa Cafe & Deli are already ahead of the game. They know how to provide the optimum customer experience.
*2017 survey commissioned by Mastercard
Another World Computer Centre
Still charging for card payments? You’re on another planet!
Since 1989, Paul Pritsis has been running Another World Computer Centre. The Melbourne-based computer business offers customers a range of products and services; from PCs, tablets, smartphones and accessories, as well as data recovery, repairs and virus removal. Priding itself on quality products and an outstanding personal service, the store has twice been awarded by the Australian Achiever Awards after nominations and feedback from customers.
Since its inception in the eighties, Paul’s business has been ahead of the times when it comes to offering customers choice around the different ways to pay. Paul has never felt inclined to impose a minimum spend or premium on his customers who choose to pay by card. It would appear that Paul is one step ahead as Australia edges ever-closer to becoming a cashless society with more and more individuals opting to make payment by card. Whilst you might expect the rise of the millennials to be to blame for ridding Australia of its dollar notes and coins, a recent study has found that this is not the case. There has been a 14% YoY increase in 30-49 year who wish to use card for small transactions, now with 67% of the age group preferring this*.
“My customers have absolutely always had the option to pay by card”, says Paul. “The charges we incur for card payments is such a small percentage of our business costs, so I’m not going to add a charge for customers who just want to top up their Myki by $5 and hinder their day.
“Another World Computer Centre offers a wide variety of products to customers and we have many large and small transactions, from a few dollars for accessories to a few hundred dollars for hardware. Many customers ask if there is a minimum spend if they pay by card when approaching the checkout and I feel happy to tell them that there is not. I would never want to leave a customer with a sour taste in their mouth for something as silly as restricting their payment method.
“Over the years, I have of course noticed an increase in customers opting to pay by card. One day this week, I took $100 in cash and $1500 by card payment – the figures speak for themselves.”
Other brick and mortar businesses need to follow Another World Computer Centre’s example and catch up, as more people ditch the paper for plastic. 56% of Australians now choose to visit another store if there are limitations when making payment by card*. For small businesses, losing up to half of their customers for such a menial reason could be financial suicide, especially as large online retailers continue growing momentum here in Australia.
*2017 survey commissioned by Mastercard
Tranquility Crafts ‘N’ Supplies
Minimum spends are hanging by a thread
With 4 out of 5 Australians resenting restrictions when making payment by card*, such as minimum spend limits and fees for usage, many small business owners have been reviewing their policies and making a switch to zero dollar minimum spend.
Keeping the practice of embroidery and patchwork alive, Joanne Ferguson owns and runs Tranquility Crafts ‘N’ Supplies, ‘a true little gem and treasure’, in the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds.
Since Joanne acquired the store 25 years ago, she has long been a specialist supplier for embroidery, cross stitch, patchwork, embellishment, ribbons and folk art needs. The store also runs a range of classes; from teaching people the basics of needle work, all the way up to bigger patchwork and embroidery projects.
For Joanne, her customers’ experience is paramount and she understands their needs from her own attitudes as a customer.
“I find it very irritating when there is a minimum spend or charge when I pay by card for a product or service. I personally just do not believe in it and I refuse to take my custom to places that do not have a zero dollar minimum spend.
“Since taking over Tranquility Crafts ‘N’ Supplies I have always had a zero dollar minimum spend for customers who opt to pay by card. I cannot expect my customers to pay a premium for using card if I refuse to do this myself as a customer.
“Many of my customers share the same opinion on the matter as me – that they would choose to shop elsewhere if there are card limitations. Others have explained that they enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being able to drop into the store and just grab something small without having to worry about costs and if they have any cash on them.”
Joanne believes that businesses should take responsibility for any charges incurred when a customer pays by card, just as they would any other utility bill.
“As a business, any charges from payments made by card you should absorb as you would any other cost. If you are not prepared to do this, then simply do not accept card as a payment method. Do not put your business expense on to your customer.
“I have found more and more people choose to pay by card rather than carry around cash, so business owners will have to review their policies otherwise face the fact that they may be left behind.”
*2017 survey commissioned by Mastercard
Let them eat cake instead of worrying about cash
Over the course of 20 years Pattison’s Patisserie has grown from a humble bakery in St Ives, to include 11 stores around town. Founder Peter and Michelle Pattison say the key to their success is giving people what they want. And that is almost always cake.
Another way of keeping customers happy has been the adaption of new technology. Two years ago the couple introduced Tap and Go payments, allowing them to abolish minimum spends on card transactions, making things easier for customers and freeing up more time for staff.
In the past Pattison’s Patisseries had a $15 minimum spend on card transactions to cut down on lengthy transactions, but after switching to Tap and Go, the minimum spend was abolished. Instead they introduced a surcharge for small purchases, but it was abandoned the first week, after too much negative feedback.
“Customers hated the surcharge. We spend so much time building our brand and the trust and loyalty of our customers, we don’t want to annoy them over small things like this. Their satisfaction is essential,” says Peter.
Peter says it is clear that more customers now prefer card to cash. Something he welcomes, since it means less room for error and fraud and reduces the security risk of having large volumes of cash on the premises. There is also a reduction in staff costs, as counting and banking cash for many stores is an enormous undertaking. Most significant is the way card reduces queues – essential in a high transaction volume environment such as a café or bakery.
“Ultimately, we make decisions about our processes based on what will best meet the needs of our customers. By keeping this at the forefront, we can ensure we are not just delivering the exquisite pastries we are famous for, but consistently offering excellent service,” said Peter. “Making it as easy as possible to purchase from us is paramount.”
Not all juices are created equal for health
There is no doubt about it – Australian consumers are becoming more aware of the need to eat and live healthy.
Juiced Life’s franchisee and all-round brand ambassador Jarryd Barry is keen to see that change.
“Our big emphasis is education – essentially arming consumers with accurate knowledge and information as well as providing them with the experience which will encourage them to pursue their personal health goals,” he said.
A fact which remains hazy to consumers is that most juices available on the market are full of artificial sugar, nasty preservatives and not at all healthy.
“We want to make a difference by providing a product that has real health benefits, whilst educating the general public on the positive impact fresh fruit and vegetables can make on their lives,” explained Jarryd.
The firm belief in the concept led him to boldly jump with both feet into the business, opening his store at Fountain Gate late 2015. Since its inception, Juiced Life has quickly expanded to four stores across NSW and VIC and a fifth is due to open within the month at Highpoint Shopping Centre.
With ambitions to increase presence and adoption by the market, Juiced Life is a keen adopter of technology to support positive in-store experiences.
Each store is equipped with iPads to manage the customer interaction.
In the same vein, Juiced Life has implemented no minimum spend for card transactions from day one of operations.
“We would not want to create any hindrance to a potential customer interaction and Juiced Life journey with a minimum spend restriction,” he explained.
Jarryd added that customers at his store have been pleasantly surprised when informed at point of purchase that there was no minimum on card spend.
The zero minimum policy has also helped younger employees, who are able to focus on delivering great customer service when ringing up the transaction, without the added layer of stress of explaining the cashless purchase restriction to members of the public.
“The owners of Juiced Life have one collective mission – to help Australians on their personal journey to consume, live better and achieve optimal health. We are only just getting started.”
Your Local Roaster
Going back a step in time for the best customer experience today
Adam Moon’s vision for the newly rebranded Your Local Roaster is to add a personal, humane touch to all aspects of the customer’s experience. His inspiration? The days gone by.
“Melbourne is an incredibly busy place and it will only get busier. We believe a place that encourages the young and old alike to stop and smell the roses (or coffee) will be a breath of fresh air,” he added.
That said, Your Local Roaster’s experience for customers does not limit the business from keeping up with technology and changes in the needs and demands of customers.
Customer experience is paramount
The recent decision by the retailer and wholesaler to abolish the minimum spend on card transactions is one example of how the business does not shy away from experimenting with technology.
“We were seeing a larger volume of card transactions increasing across the board, whether they were paying for a kilo of beans or a coffee. Typically, customers topped up to meet the minimum spend and yes, that meant the business was getting a larger sale out of customers. However, that’s not the impression we wanted to leave our customers,” shared Adam.
“Our aim is to make things as simple and convenient for customers and one way we have achieved that is by doing away with the minimum spend and leaving the choice of payment in their hands,” said Adam, adding that he has seen significant positive impact the switch has created on returning customers.
Adam has had plenty of time on the road to get the formula of Your Local Roaster right, having spent the last fifteen years taking care of the wholesale business supplying beans to over 150 cafes and restaurants.
“The time allowed me to work on these ideas to refine what has been a great traditional, local business the last twenty years and offer the type of customer experience which will outlast this generation and the next,” he said.
“Now, it’s time to bring these ideas to life. Improving customer’s experience using technology is just one step in that direction.”
A Spin on Customer-First service culture
The resemblance between the technology and hospitality industries would not come as immediately to most people as they do to George Kozman, former wholesale distributor of technology products and now co-owner of stylish Melbourne CBD café and catering business Spin Coffee.
“Both business models see high volume with a strong focus on customer connection. What this means is, your point of difference is always going to come back to service. Making it easy for customers to do business with you and making each experience a good one is what’s going to keep them coming back, whether you’re selling F&B or toner ink cartridges,” George said.
A simple mantra when it comes to his approach is not presenting any aspect of the business to the consumer that he doesn’t believe in as a consumer himself.
“I know what frustrates me as a consumer and I know to make sure my customers don’t go through the same frustrations on my watch,” he said.
The customer is king
Barriers to transaction are just one of his pet peeves. On one of George’s visits to the US about a decade ago, he was exposed to what he felt was a significantly superior customer service approach.
“The customer is truly king for American retailers. Back then, there were already no additional fees, no minimum spend requirement at point of sale. Whatever card you pulled out at a café or at the shops was equally welcomed and accepted,” he explained, adding that the Australian service sector still has some way to go.
Banking on customer-first
Located in the St James building on Bourke Street, Spin Coffee is also seeing growing demand for its corporate catering business. George is banking on the customer-first principles of good food and great service to succeed in the highly competitive F&B scene.
“Business owners need to view providing card payment option as an investment in a fantastic customer experience. It’s no different from investing in the right service crew or keeping a great ambience at your premises,” he added.
From an operations perspective, the business has seen huge benefits in the adoption of electronic payment technology in making service more efficient. Approximately 50% of the café’s daily transactions are now electronic.
“At the end of the day, we appreciate that consumers will always have a choice. We need to make it easy for them to do business with us so they don’t walk down the road to someone else who will.”
Zero Minimum the perfect choice for Euro
Euro café in Sydney’s CBD has been in business for fifteen years, servicing the numerous offices that populate the busy George Street and surrounds.
A typical day at Euro will see a combination of seated groups huddled deep in conversation under the glass-roofed lobby or individuals dashing through to grab a coffee just in time for their next meeting.
The person who ensures that both these components of the business are being met is Usha, who has managed Euro for seven years. As a part of her desire to serve her valued customers as best she can, the decision was made in January 2016 to adapt to the ever-evolving habits of Aussie consumers and committing to a zero dollar minimum spend.
Proudly displaying a ‘No Minimum Spend’ sign at the point of sale, Usha welcomes her flurry of regulars, citing these relationships as the favourite part of her job.
“I love seeing satisfied customers. Card payments are the most popular method of payment for our customers, more specifically, tap and go, which is hugely popular. Previously, we did have a minimum spend but as the prominence of tap and go payment systems and usage increased, we jumped at the chance to improve payment offerings and in turn, customer experience. Now, as people realise they won’t be charged a fee for simply grabbing one of two items, they leave even more satisfied. As a direct result, we’ve seen our customer and sales increase since January 2016.”
The removal of a minimum spend was a no-brainer, noting that people are carrying less and less cash.
“Euro Café prides itself on providing customers with an array of choice; from skinny, soy, gluten-free or on-the-go, and payment method is no different. Removing the minimum spend has allowed Euro café to serve up something special, and transform itself into a business that is the place to go. Looking forward, in the next few months, we will potentially go cashless.”