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2017 Will Be the Year of Customer Experience

We’re just a few weeks into 2017 and the year is already shaping up to be a very exciting one. We’ve seen a wide range of technology and new inventions changing the market one way or another. For example, you can now order everyday items with just a push of a button, without even leaving the comfort of your home. Refrigerators can tell you the items you need to buy using cameras and smart sensors.

All of these changes are good for both companies and consumers. They are geared towards one main goal: improving customer experience.

Streamlined Flow of Purchase

It is not a secret that simplifying the checkout process, both online and offline, is a constant process. The simpler the checkout process, the more chances customers will complete the sale. Online stores used to have several steps in their checkout process. Personal details, additional offers and even surveys used to get in the way of customers completing the sale. Today, a push of a button is all it takes for customers to order the items they need.

The same changes are happening offline. After the introduction of automated cashier and contactless payments, the industry is trying to find new ways of simplifying the process. Amazon is teasing the concept of an Amazon brick-and-mortar store, where customers can pay directly using their Amazon account. The use of wearables and solutions such as those we offer here at FitPay are also growing rapidly.

It won’t be long before we can walk into a store, pick up the items we need and walk out without having to worry about paying. The system and multiple scanners will be doing all of the hard work of recording the items customers picked up and deducting payments automatically. Some experts even believe this next jump could happen in 2017.

Offline Businesses Going Online

A lot of business owners and professionals are going back to school and brushing up on their business skills. AACSB online MBA programs have been very popular over the last few years, especially with universities such as Rutgers Online opening their courses to more students. An online MBA degree helps business owners update their business skills.

Thanks to local SEO and internet marketing in general, a lot of offline, local businesses are now going online. It starts with the simple task of making the local business more discoverable and attracting new customers. Today, more businesses are opening their own online storefronts to allow customers to buy their products and services directly. This is another shift that will be very popular in 2017.

Personalization

Last, but certainly not least, we have personalization. Personalized treatments, next-level services and other similar approaches are being used to separate one brand from the other. Customer experience has become very important. The only way you can stay ahead of the market and remain competitive is by offering customers an experience they value and remember. 2017 will be the year of customer experience indeed.

wearables for kids

When it comes to wearables, maybe we should be thinking small…

By Michael Orlando, CEO, Fit Pay, Inc.

In December of 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics did a study on device usage in kids and found that 75 percent of the kids surveyed had their own smartphones and 96.6 percent had used a smartphone or similar device. The kids they surveyed were 4 years old and younger. That may skew young, but Influence Central did another study and found that the average age that kids get their smartphones is 10.

So, in a nutshell, young kids own and use devices. This age group, however, is an untapped market for wearable devices.

Google “wearable devices for kids” and nearly every search result is for GPS trackers for parents. It doesn’t make sense that this is the primary product offering when you consider the size of the market. The NPD Group puts the U.S. “youth electronics” market at almost $750 million for 2015 (and they’re really talking about electronic toys). Combine that with devices and the market opportunity is staggering.

I think the scale of this opportunity will push the wearables industry toward creating products explicitly for kids. And there are two existing products that show how wearable devices for kids have a wide range of potential use cases: Disney’s Magic Band and Pizza Hut’s NFC Tattoos.

I have a friend who’s getting ready to take her two kids on a Disney cruise. The thing she keeps talking about? The Magic Band. “Because they put it on and go, but I know where they are and what they’re doing.” The Magic Band is a bracelet that allows kids to access their room, use their Fast Pass, charge items to their account, etc. Essentially, it’s a wearable equipped with payments, ticketing and entry. But it only works at Disney.

It’s just a matter of time until someone creates a similar wearable that gives parents and kids that freedom and convenience in everyday life. It’ll have pre-paid or reloadable payments, transit access, school IDs, lunch money, whatever, and kids will like it because it gives them autonomy…and money. Parents will like it because it’s hard to lose and easy to monitor (and you could even throw in the GPS).

My other favorite kid item isn’t even a kid item. It was a marketing gimmick, but I think it has a lot of potential. Last October, Pizza Hut UK created a temporary tattoo that could order the wearer’s pizza of choice and deliver it to their (preprogrammed) location. The tattoos were equipped with NFC and QR technology and worked with the user’s smartphone. It wasn’t the sleekest system in the world (because what if you’re not in the mood for pepperoni?) but it was pretty clever.

Imagine your 10-year-old was going to Chuck E. Cheese and you could buy a temporary tattoo worth 30 tokens. I can also envision a pack of tattoos worth small dollar amounts sold with the gift cards in the grocery store. It’s an idea that seems ripe for expansion.

We, as an industry, are not yet creating and marketing wearable products designed specifically for kids. But I think it’s coming…soon.

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STMicroelectronics Teams with FitPay and G&D to Create Turnkey, Certification-Ready Solution for Wearable Devices

ST, Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), and FitPay join forces to overcome traditional barriers to OEMs implementing payment applications on wearable devices

Mobile payments may go mainstream on wearable devices like smartwatches by taking advantage of a new ready-to-use payment solution containing technology from STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) , a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications.

ST, G&D, and FitPay have used ST’s security chip to jointly create the first secure hardware and software solution that is pre-approved for use by device manufacturers with the aim to develop integrated tokenized payments from Mastercard or Visa.

Read more.