Funanga: Why cash can fuel omnichannel success

Land-based operators should consider enabling cash payments for online accounts, should they wish to create a successful omnichannel business, according to Funanga.

Many of the world’s biggest betting companies have hugely successful physical businesses as well as digital brands. As a rule, they are usually run in parallel rather than in concert. Historically, they have catered to different customers with different demands, and offered a vastly different experience. 

It’s still surprisingly rare to find an operator that has successfully managed to combine the two, to create a single coherent experience online and in-store. However, this is increasingly the aim for forward-thinking operators, which are always looking for an edge over their competition. 

The most successful omnichannel operators will be those that think strategically about creating a cohesive brand across both formats. The aim is for a seamless combination of offline and online experiences, which in turn creates more monetisation opportunities. 

This means ensuring they match the games on offer, the tone of communications, the customer journey. If a customer is trying an operator’s online brand for the first time, it needs to be smooth, familiar, and comfortable from beginning to end. This should also be reflected in the payments experience. 

For physical betting shops, where cash is still dominant, operators should consider enabling cash payments for online accounts. It’s a quick and effective way of aligning the two brands and creating a consistent omnichannel experience. It also has a range of other benefits ranging from loyalty to conversion rates.  

Omnichannel benefits

As has been the case with online and in-store retail, gaming operators understand that aligning their channels into one strategy represents a major opportunity for both their physical and online brands. When the online/offline experiences are in sync, it provides a better customer experience, boosting loyalty and conversion rates in the process. If these services mirror and complement each other, it makes it easy for an in-store customer to try their betting app and vice versa. 

Many online betting brands have a loyal customer base of people who enjoy their in-store betting brand. It’s logical and efficient for operators to tap into this market, incentivising them to try their digital brand. Not doing so is to leave money on the table. It’s also far more expensive (and more challenging) to win new customers than retain old ones.

Likewise, omnichannel success means incremental spend. Operators that engage with customers online and offline could have twice the number of interactions, engendering customer loyalty and usage. 

How does cash help?

Naturally, cash is the preferred payment method for most high street betting shop customers. These shops will therefore always need to accept cash. It stands to reason, therefore, that the ability to accept cash payments in-store as a deposit mechanism for online iGaming accounts should be a standard, seamless service available in all stores. However, it isn’t yet in many markets, but we see the first instances of trend with a small number of betting brands in the UK and Germany.  

Cash is safe and its transactions are irreversible (no chargebacks). It is also used by everyone, and is the most universal payment mechanism in the world. Offering cash deposits in-store gives iGaming brands access to the largest gaming market sector in the world, the cash customer. It also adds a safe and convenient payment method to an iGaming operator’s cashier.    

There are many customers who would love the idea of walking into a betting shop, depositing cash and continuing playing at home. Cash also works well as a payout mechanism. It makes it possible for a player to make iGaming deposits in-store, play at home and collect their winnings in person at their convenience. 

Cash deposits should also be seen by iGaming operators as an instant way of creating thousands of new deposit locations. Brands with physical and online offerings have a fantastic infrastructure, with thousands of retail locations usually located on busy high streets. In-store, the infrastructure is increasingly digitised and can therefore connect to the online operations easily. 

As well as being an easy to implement payment mechanism, cash can help digital brands level up their payment acceptance rates easily. When a customer makes a bet in store, they will usually have an in-store member account and/or ID of some kind, giving the shop greater assurance that they are who they say they are – far more so than a random person downloading the app. Cash can add integrity and bring operators into compliance. It’s a recorded transaction that can be registered both in the wallet online and offline. 

High street operators already run a fully controlled cash acceptance network, and can link this to their online operations without a big financial investment. They can install some simple software or hardware in each location, either at the till, the casino cage, or even implemented within a gaming machine. 

By taking cash within the store for online, operators can create a shared wallet that covers both channels. It’s also possible to imagine, a fixed odds betting terminal that lets a customer make an online deposit when they insert their money.  

Operators also need to consider how forces outside of their control will have a bearing on the business. The UK credit card ban, for instance, is just one regulation that had a sizeable impact on payment acceptance rates. By contrast, cash will always be one of the most dependable and user/operator-friendly options available. Cash is well protected, it will always be accepted and it will always be available to players. 

Is cash the way forward for omnichannel businesses?

In-store cash deposits for iGaming can be easily implemented to create a more integrated and connected business strategy for gaming operators. For operators launching a brand-new online service or trying to get more in-store customers to try it out, they must play to these loyalties wherever possible. 

Simply upselling customers and asking them to go online is not enough, operators must look to recreate the services and experiences which loyal customers know and love. This includes adding cash as a primary payment method across all channels in which they operate.

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