Covid-19 has transformed the retail landscape beyond recognition. Three lockdowns combined with regional level systems have resulted in liquidations and acquisitions for a number of well-known brands, and many more favor e-commerce over physical stores.
Even as life begins to return to normal, says Colin Abrey of Nextivity, a large proportion of society continues to purchase non-essential goods, even high-value items online, as digital shopping has become the norm. Consumer credit applications have also evolved, with dynamic approval and enhanced security measures, as well as consumer expectations for fairness and transparency in interest-free credit and hire-purchase contracts.
âWi-Fi-only networks do not provide all of the connectivity options needed to meet PSD2 regulations,â says Colin Abrey of Nextivity
If the pandemic was not enough, those who sell high-value merchandise like cars, mobile homes or recreational vehicles (RVs) have another hurdle to overcome now that they have finally been allowed to open their theaters. exposure. This latest overhaul relates to financial loan agreements and compliance with the latest UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) online payment regulations, PSD2.
Originally slated for implementation in 2019, deployment dates have been pushed back several times due to the scale of technology revisions needed to make compliance virtually achievable. The last deadline is September 2021.
The past 12 months have been particularly difficult for auto dealers. Not only have they been forced to rethink their business operations and rework the layout of their showrooms based on social distancing, but the market demand is also for more flexible purchasing agreements with bigger discounts. 20 years and Brexit creates additional uncertainty.
Demand for self-contained accommodation such as luxury caravans or motorhomes, on the other hand, has exploded due to travel restrictions, self-isolation / quarantine, and the traffic light system. Indeed the National Caravan Council, reported that registrations in July 20 were more than two-thirds higher than the previous year and this trend continues. Even though demand has grown exponentially, suppliers in this booming industry will still have to comply with stricter financial procedures in the future.
Another consequence of the past 12 months has been a seismic shift towards a “cashless” society, which means greater vigilance is needed when it comes to protecting financial data and details on the dark web. Under the new regulations, all financial agreements and assessments must be done online, and an authentication code must be generated afterward before requests can be processed further.
However, until the required connectivity is in place at the various points of sale, many vendors are forced to bypass and operate a manual system as end customers do not receive the required codes, which are issued by text message (SMS or MMS). If dealers continue to do this once the new regulations are mandatory, a) the cost of their merchant codes will increase and b) they will not comply with the new FCA rules and this could have serious repercussions.
These dealerships don’t deliberately break the rules, they want to be compliant, and the reason their customers don’t receive the required authentication codes is because there isn’t reliable 4G coverage at their respective locations. This happens because the facades of their buildings, usually made of glass, metal and concrete, prevent mobile signals from passing through them, even if there is a base station nearby. While most dealerships have invested in sophisticated Wi-Fi systems for high-speed internet access and to enable smart building applications, Wi-Fi is data-driven and does not support SMS.
Looking for a signal
âWhen purchasing a new vehicle last year, I personally had to leave the showroom and go out in search of a phone signal strong enough to receive the necessary documentation and authentication code. to proceed with the purchase. It is clearly neither ideal nor professional for dealers to ask their respective customers to do so, and the experience has drawn my attention to the issues that my automotive customers face on a daily basis. Says Derek Philips, MD of Boost Pro Systems Ltd.
âConnectivity needs to be improved in these showrooms, especially with the new PSD2 regulation becoming mandatory as any dealer who does not comply may experience issues with the FCA. We help our customers by deploying Ofcom compliant cell enhancement solutions in their showrooms. “
The lack of indoor cellular coverage also poses health and safety concerns, particularly as the government continues with plans to migrate its existing public safety communications network from Airwave’s Tetra network to 4G. Once deployed, any business without adequate 4G coverage may not be able to facilitate security-critical communications in an emergency situation.
To overcome these obstacles, the outdoor network must be brought indoors using additional equipment such as mobile signal amplifiers to ensure the required levels of coverage.
The other consideration is that said amplifiers must meet Ofcom’s mobile repeater license exemption specification and few do. Cel-Fi by Nextivity is an example of solutions that comply with the British regulator’s Ofcom license exemption.
By installing a mobile signal booster system, not only would car, mobile home and recreational vehicle dealerships be able to overcome the compliance situation for minimal investment, but they could take advantage of mobile connectivity to improve the customer’s purchasing journey by offering virtual test drives or digital interaction screens. Wi-Fi taken in isolation isn’t enough to deliver these wow factor experiences and businesses failing to realize that this could see revenue erode further as customers turn to compete.
The author is Colin Abrey, vice president, channel sales for the EMEA region at Nextivity
About the Author
Colin Abrey has spent over 30 years in the wireless and international telecommunications industries and has held leadership positions in several companies operating in this field, including Anixter, Zinwave, Cambridge Broadband Networks and Global Network Solutions (a division of Communications L-3). It has deployed many large-scale construction projects including airports, convention centers, hospitals, shopping malls, commercial buildings, sports stadiums and hotels.