Digital TransformationFinanceHow Mastercard is doing its part to revolutionize retail

How Mastercard is doing its part to revolutionize retail

Financial services companies have a stodgy reputation, but Mastercard has long been at the forefront of using technology to bridge on- and offline shopping.

Retail is topsy-turvy, as legacy brands build out their ecommerce offerings and digital-first retailers like Amazon enter the physical world. A new immersive commerce concept from Fred Segal, through a partnership with Mastercard and Next Retail Concept, does both simultaneously.

Launched at a Refinery29 event during the holiday season, the website is equipped with 360-degree video that allows shoppers to “walk around.” Click on an item you , find appealing; learn more and add it to your cart. The idea is for you to feel like you’re in a real store as you shop online.

Mastercard Fred Segal

“Of the trends we’re highlighting with our clients, how to navigate omnichannel is the top one,” says Anthony Bruce, a strategic advisor within Mastercard’s Data & Services Division. “A lot of the tests and innovations that we’re helping through software are centered around integrated experiences, whether it’s click-and-collect or delivering endless aisle in the store.”

Marketers prioritizing personalization

Click-and-collect is just one example of the tech-integrated options consumers have come to expect at physical stores. During the holiday season, people made purchases online and picked the items up in-store 47% more than they did during 2017, according to Adobe. Some level of personalization has also become table stakes for modern retailers.

“We’re migrating from the point where it was kind of solely for marketing and messaging to being able customize what’s available in a store and the totality of everything that an organization has to offer,” says Bruce, who mentions recent Harvard Business Review research that Mastercard sponsored.

HBR surveyed 625 executives from its reader base and found that 80% consider personalization to be an important part of their strategy. More than half say that it’s already a crucial driver of their organization’s revenue and profits.

“That would not have been the answer three years ago,” says Bruce. “The challenge across industries is, how do you make that happen? We’re seeing it more and more where organizations are modularizing their content. They’re able to provide a targeted outreach that’s beyond your name and some limited element about you.”

Countless studies have proven that consumers prefer their shopping experiences personalized. Similarly, Boston Consulting Group estimated that companies that deploy personalization will outsell their competitors by 30%.

One Mastercard client sent 2 million people mailers with 1 million different versions. The execution made it feel personalized. “Even if I’m not personalizing the offer to you, I’m highlighting our offering in a way that’s relevant,” says Bruce.

Looking ahead toward analytics

But while financial services companies aren’t known for being digitally savvy and future-forward, Mastercard considers itself a tech company first and foremost. The company has long used technology as a way to bridge on- and offline retail. Mastercard was a pioneer in commercializing virtual reality, launching a shoppable experience at the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in 2016.

Since then, Mastercard has launched similar experiences with other brands, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Swarovski. The brand also evolved the 20-year-old “Priceless” campaign into an experience engine.

Bruce expects these omnichannel experiences to continue. In the future, he believes they’ll have more robust analytics attached.

“The ratio of talking versus what’s happening is pretty high,” he says. “We’re a ways away, but the fundamental components of the technology is available piecemeal. The underpinning of the thought process starts with our clients and how we can help them.”


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