INTERGAMING: The reduction in FOBT stakes is expected to herald mass closures in the UK shop estate. Are we on a slippery slope, or can the retail industry recover?
Peter: The retail industry needs to adapt to survive, and there are many ways it can - both by meeting the evolving demands of the new generation of customer and by reducing the cost of operation.
INTERGAMING: Can SSBTs be the saviour of the retail estate?
Peter: They certainly have a central role to play in its future. A new generation of customer wants their user experience to be as simple, convenient, and frictionless as possible, and it’s the industry’s job to deliver that if we are to compete for their leisure spend.
Our new breed of self-service solutions V-POS and FLAVOR cater for that demand by marrying premium gaming content with cashless payment options. By remodelling the player journey, our award-winning FLAVOR offers infotainment and a self-contained betting environment, while V-POS, the company’s complete betting ecosystem, acts as a shop within a shop for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Unlike the larger cabinet-based SSBTs, our solutions offer a compact desk top self-service with a complementary printer, integrated bank payment POS and mobile app, as well as a decoder, with which to coordinate the on-screen live action in-shop. This unique combination of retail solutions is here to unlock a cashless world full of opportunities, bundled with both card and mobile payment solutions.
We have been asked about the printer, but our research tells us that while the new generation prefer to collect their winnings on the device with which they placed the bet. Plenty still like to feel the cash in their hand. It is about giving customers choice and making life easier and therefore far more enjoyable. There is no reason why retail doesn’t have a bright future.
INTERGAMING: What role does in-shop content have to play in all this?
Peter: In short, customer acquisition and retention. Providing customers with the right live pictures and data and giving them an incentive to engage with exciting live action is an essential proponent of a successful retail offering. Customers thrive on live sports including racing and the better the quality of data and content that you can provide, the more engaged they will be. You have to provide them with a reason to go in, then make the user experience as enjoyable and frictionless as possible. I also think it’s essential to ensure that in-shop content is tailored to individual retailers and their customers. Whilst many sports have universal appeal, it is very important to understand the nuances of the local markets, whether that’s the way live pictures and data are presented or the betting markets offered alongside it.
INTERGAMING: UK retail in particular is still dominated by horse and dog racing. Is it important to diversify content as we move forward or are those old favourites as relevant as they always were?
Peter: Diversification is essential – but it really isn’t time to turn our backs on horse and dog racing. There is a reason why those two sports are still a staple of the retail bookmaker experience in multiple countries. They are great betting mediums that produce regular opportunities and quick results. What is important to recognise is that an evolved generation of customer is looking for an experience that is tailored to their needs and wants. They no longer accept a one-size-fits-all package of content. What may excite a customer in a shop in Africa may not be the same as what would excite a customer in the UK. Operators need to be able to access a specific content mix that suits their needs, with bet markets, programming, scheduling and the whole layout adapted to their own customers – which we can provide.
INTERGAMING: How important are virtual sports in the content mix?
Peter: Virtuals are very important, both as a game played between live events but also as a product in their own right. The rise of betting on virtual sports is fully aligned with the fast-paced sensibilities of the modern consumer and their desire for product diversity. Virtuals can also be offered on a 24/7 basis and at whatever intervals the operator and its market may dictate. This ensures unlimited betting opportunities for customers and helps attract the widest possible clientele. Mathematics and data sit at the core of the offering and are what draw a customer back after the initial novelty of the graphics wear off. It is critical that these are adjusted to individual markets to ensure that operators can provide their customers with the content they demand. Our goal is to enable lotteries and gaming operators to shape the ideal product mix of virtual games for each market. From there, operators can rapidly deploy products to their markets via a single integration to our proprietary platform, Vermantia CONNECT. Our partners can now select from 25 different titles, effectively covering all their virtual needs.
INTERGAMING: Will we eventually see over the counter sales phased out in favour of machine-based wagering?
Peter: It’s all about offering tailor-made solutions for customers. If operators are to compete for people’s leisure spend during challenging times for retail, they must offer a wide choice to cater to different demographics while staying lean. For some, over the counter sales (and cash) will always be king. Much of the thrill of their experience will remain in receiving their winnings from over the counter. Others value the convenience that technology brings – which is especially the case for the younger generation. For those, retail sports betting will inevitably transition from over the counter to SSBT solutions like V-POS and FLAVOR, which will give customers the ease of transaction they demand.
Find out the roundtable here (pages 50-51)