Going big on small business

Going big on small business

What’s does the future hold for the UK high street? From contactless shops to concept stores, we explore how retailers are evolving and how Barclays is helping small businesses to scale up


Alisa Copeman, Head of Marketing for Barclays Cards & Payments in the UK, and Konrad Kelling, Managing Director, Barclaycard Payment Solutions, explain how Barclays is supporting the small business sector in the UK, and helping them to make the most of the opportunities available to them.

What are some of the challenges small businesses face in today’s world?

Alisa: Challenges may impact businesses or consumer confidence or both, and are strongly impacted by the macro political and economic landscape. So it's not just about the impact on the business, it's about the confidence that their consumers and customers have when it comes to spending with them.

Konrad: The unprecedented pace and breadth of technology advancements is fuelling changes in the way we work, buy and, ultimately, behave. This presents business owners with both a challenge and an opportunity to scale and grow their businesses in new ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago.

Alisa: Some businesses may only have a very small team around them so efficiency and speed are important when trying to manage multiple aspects of running a business. Whether it be the finances, customer experience, the website or looking after employees. Business owners need to wear many hats and that in itself can be quite challenging.

What do you think the future of the UK high streets looks like?

Konrad: The rise of online and other changes in our shopping habits means that business owners need to evolve continually to thrive. Already, it is not sufficient for retailers to only have a physical presence. Consumers increasingly expect to have a consistent experience regardless of whether they are in store, on the web or in app. They expect retailers to know what they like, and reward their loyalty irrespective of which channels they are using. That presents some interesting challenges for traditional high street retailers. 

If you think about it in the context of say a fashion outlet, they need to think about how they utilise retail space, how they create experiences which are truly engaging and drive loyalty. Retailers will need to adapt, and that’s where getting a consistent and comprehensive view of your customer becomes incredibly important to understanding how they behave.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing for small businesses when it comes to accepting and making payments?

Alisa: More stores are going cashless now which means businesses need to provide a really quick and seamless experience at the checkout for their customers. I think we'll probably see more businesses taking card only payments in the future.

Konrad: But then if you broaden that out, not just to shops, into other areas like hospitality, there is a need to have a fully integrated solution covering all aspects of your business including payments, table service, inventory, payroll and ultimately your accounts. That is why over the summer Barclaycard Payment Solutions announced a new UK payments partnership with TouchBistro, the Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) solution which is designed to streamline processes for food and beverage outlets.

How are you helping small business customers prepare for the changes in regulation with European Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)?

Alisa: Educating our customers is key. Payments regulation is changing, and Barclays is helping our customers understand how important the changes in regulation are, not only for their own business but also for their customers because it impacts the way customers potentially behave and pay.

PSD2 regulation encourages us to think about payments and the customer experience, this gives companies the opportunity to be more innovative in terms of the payment products and services they can offer to their customers.

How are data and insights helping your small business customers?

Konrad: Barclays is uniquely placed to help businesses to run their business by providing key insights into trends and developments in the market.

The Insights we provide our small business customers help them to scale up. It’s important because it enables them to get a sense of the opportunities they have to in front of them to help their business flourish. It's not just the different payment solutions available, but it’s also about managing their cash flow and helping them with their working capital.

How is technology changing the products and services you offer small business customers?

Konrad: Barclays is in a unique position to provide a full range of payment and banking products and services. With our market leading digital assets, such as Barclays Online Banking and the Barclays Mobile Banking app, we can tailor solutions to the needs of our customers. For example, we recently launched Barclaycard Transact, an innovative capability that combines three key, value-driving components to help merchants maximise sales and minimise the impact of fraud, whilst still improving customer experience. Increasing sales is vital to any business, and security is key. With Barclaycard Transact you can achieve this with intelligent insights, and deliver a smoother payment experience for your customers by accepting more transactions and minimising disruption throughout the journey.

Alisa: We continue to make significant investments in our solutions to enable our customers to run their businesses safely and securely. It’s a dynamic and fast moving industry which provides exciting opportunities.