How shopping should always feel?

I don’t know a lot about wine, but I certainly do like to drink it. After Munich brewed beer, this is my second favorite beverage. There is this wine store, just in front of my apartment, which I visit from time to time to get a new bottle. 
I could also buy wine in the supermarket, but I don’t — I buy it in this little wine store in front of my apartment. Recently, I was thinking a lot about why this is the case and came to the conclusion that it just feels much, much better buying wine there. It’s the personalized shopping experience.

I go there every other week. The owner knows me and he greets me by name. He knows what kind of wine I like by heart. Not only does he make sure that there’s always at least one bottle of my favorite wine in stock, but he also recommends other bottles, which he thinks I might like. Sometimes he lets me try different wines to give me a fresh perspective and shows me something new. And every Christmas I find a Christmas card from him in my postbox. Interacting with this store and the owner… It just feels good. I feel well informed and treated fairly. As a result, I am a loyal customer who is willing to pay extra for wine, from this particular place.

The experience that this little wine store in front of my apartment offers is a prime example of how shopping should feel. Personal, exciting and engaging. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the vast majority of stores today.

“Nobody knows me around here…”

In today’s Point of Sale world, the customer is faceless. And it’s not like the retailers, stores and merchants don’t want to improve that. With thousands of people entering a store every day, it is just impossible to remember everyone’s name and face. The efforts to improve this result in cumbersome loyalty cards, scanning QR codes, trying to enhance interpersonal relationship by introducing more barriers and inconvenience for the shopper.

Thus, we are left with a faceless and impersonal shopping experience, for both the merchant and the shopper. Faceless shoppers enter the store, buy an item and leave. Day in and day out. Always the same. You don’t get to know them. They cannot tell you how they liked the product, how they liked the service, how they liked your shop. If they enter another time, you don’t know whether they have been there before and what they purchased. You don’t get any information from them and you cannot build a great relationship with them.

The Point of Sale customer is faceless.

Now, imagine if your customer is someone who you know. Imagine if you knew his purchase history, and if you could give him effective recommendations based on it. If you could get in touch and ask for feedback on his latest purchase. If you could thank him for his loyalty at the end of the year and send him a Christmas card. Imagine if you can have a relationship with your customer, just like normal people do. Just like the owner of my little wine store does.

Imagine you could do all of this without you or your customer changing your behavior. No QR codes to be scanned, no store check-ins, and no loyalty card inconvenience shoppers. Imagine creating a connection, just like that, without changing anything.

This week, we announced payworks ENGAGE — a platform that enables merchants to get to know their customers, build a relationship and improve their shopping experience. Point of Sale solutions built with payworks ENGAGE enable developers to build effective customer engagement solutions for their merchants, establishing beautiful processes without changing anything in the purchase process. We do this by using something that is already there — the credit card (or ApplePay or Samsung Pay or any other payment option you are using at the point of sale).

“Hi, Christian! How did you like that bottle of Bordeaux you bought last week?”

Imagine providing a shopping experience like the one in the wine store in front of my apartment — but everywhere and to everyone. This is why we launched payworks ENGAGE.

By the way, if you are looking for a great bottle of wine, check out