Getting quicker consumer uptake of new products and services in UK towns and cities

By Guy Douglas, Connected Places UK

In the mobile and contactless sectors, the past 2 years have seen some major new launches of mainstream consumer applications. In London, the TfL adoption of contactless ticketing and the now widespread use of payments via contactless cards have taken the word “contactless” into everyday use.

But gaining broad consumer uptake has not been an easy task. The TfL switch from Oyster to contactless was made easier by the fact that London’s transport network is an everyday necessity for millions of people; one system with a huge consumer reach. Basic contactless payments have accelerated hugely after massive deployment of cards, new ePOS terminals and significant marketing effort.

Both of these deployments were aided by established networks, one in transit, one in payments. In both cases, large operators were able to support the process. TfL and banks/card issuers.

As subsequent products emerge, all trying to engage the modern, digitally-engaged consumer, it becomes clear that effective deployment will require similarly large networks in order to succeed. In most cases, from mobile wallets to proximity marketing, and even for more widespread use of contactless ePOS, there must be many more retailers, transit operators, local governments/councils, leisure and hospitality businesses becoming capable of accepting the contactless-mobile tools being marketed to consumers.

Knowing how to reach these businesses and organisations at the regional level is one of the keys to successful new products and mass-scale consumer uptake.

Central Gov deptIn each region, city or town, there are several key influencers to engage with, many of whom make decisions only as part of a collaborative process with fellow stakeholders. Gaining access to these local decision-making processes is not obvious, but there is an easier way to having influence. It’s about finding the individuals that have an outline understanding of the products being offered and who can see the benefits of introducing them. These people are involved with economic development and place management; the following diagram shows the organisations they work within and how they fit together.

In order to develop effective reach at the regional level, it is therefore necessary to have regional partners. There is a category of individuals that can be very helpful in cultivating such partnerships; they are the people who have the everyday responsibility for managing town and city centres. These people are connected to every level of government, economic development and local businesses.