How Cyber Monday proved we’re moving towards a cashless era

Bank breakdowns notwithstanding, if Cyber Monday signified one thing, it’s the fact that the coming year could very well be shaping up to be Year One of the Cashless Era. According to The Payment Council, next year the number of cash-based transactions will fall below 50% of all UK payments by volume for the first time. While we’re all used to a society dominated by cash and cheques, this drop in the use of hard currency is likely to trigger an array of domino effects across the entire UK economy.

One of those effects will be a shift in how we use payment methods and systems. Paypal, Apple Passbook, Google Wallet, not to mention the irrepressible rise of m-commerce as evidence by the surge in mobile shopping during Cyber Monday – all will be vying for pole position against more traditional payment systems such as Visa and Mastercard. And at the centre of it all is the smartphone, a key tool for the cash-free generation.

The ‘holster brands’ (the devices and networks) are already playing an integral role in the downfall of cash. The continuing penetration of the smartphone will rely on access to better, faster network speeds through 4G, access to Wi-Fi, data costs and so on, and if Cyber Monday is anything to go by, the continuing increase in m-commerce.

In the UK, mobile sales soared a staggering 94.3 percent on Cyber Monday – one of the busiest online shopping days of Christmas. In fact, mobile accounted for 44.3 percent of all online traffic (IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, 5 December 2013).

IBM’s data also revealed that Android users are willing to spend more on their smartphones than iOS users, spending an average £83.85 per order compared to iOS users who spent £79.98. But it was Samsung users who went on the biggest shopping sprees, spending an average of £86.20 per order. These figures suggest we are all becoming braver when it comes to using our smartphones to shop.

No question awareness for Cyber Monday was high, but data collected with our online listing tool, Brandwatch, indicates that shopper sentiment towards the retailers and brands that were laying on the heavy discount was relatively poor.

Apple, North Face and Oreo 5’s were the only three brands or retailers to feature in our Cyber Monday topic cloud while searching for all mentions of ‘Cyber Monday’ on the worldwide web. Add this to the fact that out of the 20 most mentioned Twitter handles on Cyber Monday, only three belonged to retailers; @etsy, @amazon and @ebay, and it seems shopper focus was purely on the transaction and not on engaging with the seller.

As m-commerce and the cashless habit takes hold, the challenge of seamless and deep engagement across channels is going to intensify. Never mind contactless payment making small change a thing of the past – the whole traditional purchase funnel is being ripped up and new models are taking their place – ones that fuse on- and offline, in-store and at-home, and everything else in between. This tipping point for payment will trigger the start of a change on the high street that could make it unrecognisable.

Jamie Matthews is CEO, Initials Marketing

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