Standard Bank has rolled out a new online tool to assist merchants countrywide to change the paradigm of customer interaction.
The bank completed a highly successful pilot phase of its new online dashboard tool CustomerView across 12 clients in October and November last year and the solution today goes live to up to 10,000 select credit and debit card merchants on the bank’s platform.

Julian Turner from Standard Bank has been managing the development of CustomerView from conception and he says the feedback has been very enthusiastic and the bank intends scaling it up quite considerably in the future.

Lincoln Mali, group head: card and emerging payments at Standard Bank, is enthusiastic about the ability of the offering to improve outcomes for merchants in current volatile economic conditions.

“This solution operates at the intersection of the acquiring (merchants) market and the issuing (cardholders) market and by better understanding cardholder behaviour, merchants can influence turnover growth. It has the potential to improve outcomes for merchants by helping them make informed business decisions based on predictive analytics and thereby drive sales,” says Mali.

Andrew Wilmot, head: merchant solutions SA, group card and emerging payments, sees CustomerView as an additional service the bank offers alongside various acceptance platforms which include cash back, contactless, with Instant Money redemption and merchant funding to add soon.

The full gamut of business activity is covered, with the pilot phase taking place across an array of businesses, from cinemas, appliance stores, restaurants, cash and carry to sports clothing stores.

“Leading insights gleaned from the tool offer businesses a decisive edge – in nearly all cases in our pilot the feedback was that they were shown trends they had not known about before,” says Turner.

With South Africa’s economy stuck in a moribund state, the spark for growth and jobs needs to come from innovation across the real economy and from deep within supply chains.

“All businesses are grappling with many of the same challenges, but there are also a number of exciting opportunities to be exploited. Those may, however, have been hiding just beneath the surface and we intend to assist businesses to bring these to light,” says Turner.

One of the best ways to start gaining a decided competitive advantage in the digital age is to harness insights about customers and utilize these trends to grow.

“This launch and future rollout puts the customer at the centre of the conversation. It also changes the status quo quite considerably for merchants, both big and small. There is a rich vein of information available that is currently not being fully exploited and plugged into business strategies. There is also immense potential to harness this tool across Africa too. We intend to deepen the market, enhance customer relationships and help clients grow broadly,” says Turner.

CustomerView is currently being offered to merchants for free, with the intention to introduce a measure of pricing in the future. The key, however, is to protect the identity of the customer’s cardholder information – the identities of clients are therefore totally secure on the platform. The tool provides merchants with aggregated data insights on customer demographics, purchasing patterns, point-of-sale hourly peaks and valleys, price points, geo-coded maps on catchment areas and target markets, customer segmentation among many others.

By picking up on key trends, a business can, for instance, successfully target a particular age group at a popular time and geography, with heat maps providing users with a quick view of spending hotspots at any given time. The tool is also flexible enough to be tailored and enhanced further, for instance by linking in to loyalty and incentive programmes and reflecting the industry competitive landscape. The merchant now has at their fingertips an easy-to-use graphic interface to spot the trends timeously and to take action to maximise outcomes.

“The modern customer is increasingly discerning, while business profits are being squeezed by prolonged weak economic conditions. CustomerView is the answer to use data to better understand customers and better align to their lifestyles and needs, which is the type of innovation our real economy needs,” says Turner.