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.”