And payment solution firms, such as Visa, zeroed in on contactless payment technologies for its recent sponsorship with New York Fashion Week, offering unattended vending machines to consumers that featured exclusive, custom items from New York-based, female founded labels, such as Rebecca Minkoff, Venessa Arizaga and Neely & Chloe. The firm also partnered with Women’s World Banking, a nonprofit that provides low-income women with financial tools and resources, as part of its “buy one, give one” program at the event — 100 percent of the proceeds from each item purchased were donated to the organization.
Here, Mary Ann Reilly, the senior vice president of North America marketing at Visa, talks to WWD about the company’s recent activation at New York Fashion Week and the growth of contactless payment solutions.
WWD: What inspired the idea to host a contactless payment-enabled retail experience with New York Fashion Week?
Mary Ann Reilly: We always use our sponsorship activations to drive business priorities. Educating consumers in the U.S. about the benefits of tapping to pay and bringing more contactless payment experiences to the U.S. market is a key focus for Visa. So, with our inaugural sponsorship of New York Fashion Week: The Shows as the backdrop, we set out to create an innovative retail experience that showcased the speed and convenience of tapping to pay and would strike an empowering yet playful tone with the consumers attending the shows.
Contactless payments, where you tap to pay with a card, phone or wearable device, deliver a fast, simple and secure checkout experience. We felt the vending machines were the perfect way to bring these benefits to life and engage with our target audience.
WWD: Are there any noteworthy immersive experiences emerging in the retail space?
M.A.R.: Technology is making it easier than ever for consumers to browse and buy anywhere, anytime. Although there are a number of innovative retail experiences worth noting, at Visa we’ve been especially interested how identifying ways that purchase moments are more integrated in everyday omnichannel browsing or viewing experiences — this idea of “see now, buy now.”
During this most recent Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, we created an integrated shoppable experience through NBC and Team USA Shop, where Olympic fans watching the Games from home could instantly purchase apparel they saw their favorite Team USA athletes wearing. That was a successful pilot that we are looking to build on through other sponsorships in the coming years.
WWD: In your opinion, will contactless payments eventually become the standard for global retailers?
M.A.R.: We believe so. In many countries around the world, contactless payments are already the norm — in fact, more than 90 percent of the transactions in Australia are conducted by tapping to pay, and that number is over 50 percent in Canada and the U.K. Based on this global momentum and the benefits tapping to pay delivers to consumers and merchants, we believe contactless payments are the future of checkout.
We expect adoption of contactless payments will continue around the world, and the U.S. is poised to follow suit. One in two Visa transactions at checkout already occur at merchant locations that have contactless-enabled terminals. So, exposure and awareness will continue to be key, especially as more contactless cards, mobile phones and connected devices come to market.
WWD: Would you elaborate on the women’s empowerment theme woven throughout the NYFW event, as well as the featured product selections?
M.A.R.: Earlier this summer, we introduced a campaign called “Money Is Changing,” specifically aimed to start a conversation with women who are rewriting their rules when it comes to money and power. During New York Fashion Week: The Shows, we wanted to celebrate female entrepreneurs, and in this case, female designers, who continue to defy traditional stereotypes and spotlight female founders who are changing fashion and commerce.
There were two real components to how we did this. First, our contactless vending machines featured limited-edition items from female designers including Rebecca Minkoff, Venessa Arizaga and Neely & Chloe. Each purchase made at a vending machine was “buy one, get two” and 100 percent of the proceeds from the products sold benefited Women’s World Banking, a nonprofit providing low-income female entrepreneurs around the world the financial tools and resources they need to thrive and pursue their dreams. More than 500 products were sold throughout the week, and 100 percent of the total proceeds — more than $11,500 — were donated to Women’s World Banking.
And to continue the conversation, Visa hosted a curated panel of female entrepreneurs who are fostering a culture of change and reimagining retail experiences in their respective industries. Panelists included Jennifer Fleiss, chief executive officer and cofounder of Jetblack (previously Rent the Runway); Aurora James, founder and creative director, Brother Vellies; Candice Swanepoel, IMG model and founder of Tropic C and Heather Philp, senior vice president, Cards and Retail Services, Wells Fargo.
WWD: What’s next for Visa in the retail event space?
M.A.R.: While we can’t share specifics just yet, you will absolutely see more of Visa in the fashion and retail space in the coming months. Stay tuned — we will continue to showcase contactless payments in innovative ways, and we’re excited for what’s to come.
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