The Retail PayTech Forum – a brand new initiative created to help UK retailers better understand the changing payments landscape – will hold the first of its 2017 events on 7 February in London. The session will focus on innovation and technology.

The forum was born out of retailers wanting to get together to discuss the payments challenges they face.

At the end of September 2016, we (me, supported by the Emerging Payments Association) brought together 30 companies – including supermarkets, department stores, quick service restaurants, eCommerce pure plays – in London for a pilot event.

Content was developed based on retailer insight – simply asking retailers what they wanted to hear about and from whom – and delivered by a mixture of retailers, pay tech companies and subject matter experts. We kept things informal and encouraged debate between speakers and delegates (all retailers) and amongst delegates themselves.

We gathered some really valuable insight during the pilot, including these two points that have fundamentally changed how the forum will run:

  • Retailers value the ability to interact with speakers and each other. So we're no longer aiming for a huge auditorium with rows of seats in pitch black with a spotlight on a stage.
  • Retailers will engage more actively in intimate surroundings. We only invited 30 companies to the pilot, and we're going to keep delegate numbers low going forward.

In order to determine success, we asked attending retailers three key questions:

1. Was the event a good use of your time?

2. Will you come to future events?

3. Will you recommend the event to relevant colleagues and peers?

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive so, following a successful pilot, we're launching the forum proper in 2017. There will be four events throughout the year, each with a specific content stream based on the topics retailers have told us they want to hear about. We kick off with Innovation & Tech on 7 February.

To make this work, we have to find the colleagues that see the problems, as it's tough to convince a retailer that a problem exists if they don't see it. "Money is coming in and goods and services are going out so, I guess payments is fine.". This logic is, in itself, part of the problem.

Our research shows a simple truth; typically, in any given retailer, no-one owns payments. Numerous business units have a stake – IT, commercial, finance, fraud, customer experience, eCommerce, digital, tech, store ops – but there is no single owner.

We can't just work our way up the organisation chart until we find someone that sits across that entire spectrum. That person has no visibility of payments and is focused on something else entirely. This gives rise to the "I guess payments is fine" logic. At best, you'll get someone that views payments in a single dimension – a necessary cost of doing business that should be smaller.

Finding the right colleagues to invite to the forum continues to be our biggest challenge. So, if the forum is of interest to you, get in touch and join our growing community.

We've a maximum of 30 spaces available for the 7 February event and we're at 50% capacity. Retailers attending so far include: Sainsbury's, Boots, Primark, Amazon, Nando's, Subway, Thomas Cook, The Body Shop, Ladbrokes, The Post Office, MRH (petrol forecourts), Wyevale Garden Centres, Red Letter Days and Gett.

The agenda features:

  • The Future of Money: David Birch, Consult Hyperion
  • Self-Acquiring of Retail Payment Transactions – New Opportunities for Retailers: Rohit Bhatnagar, CardAlpha Consulting
  • Payment Trends and Digital Giving: Steve Back, MRH (petrol forecourts) and Niki Akhurst, Pennies
  • Roundtable discussion on learnings from peak trading period: Mark McMurtrie, Payments Consultancy
  • Case study: The Body Shop launches Alipay: The Body Shop, Alipay & Wirecard

For retailers that are forum members, delegate passes to all forum events are included in the annual membership fee (£850). Retailers that are not forum members can attend their first session for free, with a view to becoming a member.

Retailers can register here

For more information contact Ross Musgrove