Retail industry launches ‘surcharge free’ movement

visa cardA host of Aussie retailers and industry associations have banded together to launch a new surcharge free movement.

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‘Surcharge Free’ is being spearheaded by consumer advocate and campaigner, Christopher Zinn, and aims to spell out in no uncertain terms the benefits for retailers in scrapping surcharge payments.

“Not surcharging payments is about looking at the bigger picture of the dollars you’ll gain and not the pennies you’ll lose,” Zinn told Inside Retail Weekly.

“Customer experience is more than what you sell, and with research showing more than 90 per cent of consumers consider not being surcharged as important to their repeat business, it can instantly put businesses at a competitive advantage.”

American Express is a major backer of the initiative, which also counts the National Retail Association and Retail Doctor Group as supporters. Online retailers The Iconic and Coco Republic have also joined the campaign.

Global Retail Brands, owner of the House and Robins Kitchen brands and with over 170 stores, has experienced an increase in repeat customers as a result of not surcharging customers.

“We spend a lot of time training our staff giving the customer a positive experience instore,” Darron Kupshik, COO and CFO at Global Retail Brands, told Inside Retail Weekly. “And often that experience can be ruined when the customer comes to pay and finds that there is a surcharge that wasn’t necessarily discussed.

“It ultimately reflects negatively on the retailer and the consumer sees it as a cost – as something that the retailer has levied on them, not necessarily that the merchant has – so overall it’s a negative experience for the customer.”

According to research conducted by American Express, over 90 per cent of Australians consider not being surcharged as important to their repeat business; 93 per cent of consumers would like to see surcharges removed altogether; one in three consumers rate not being surcharged as extremely important in their impression of a business; and almost 75 per cent of people will tell their friends and family to avoid a business because it surcharges customers.

Kupshik said the homewares and kitchen retailer views surcharges as a cost of doing business and sees no benefit in passing merchant fees on to customers.

“We see the benefit of charging the consumer a certain price and we believe that price should cover all costs associated with the business.

“I think it’s quite a unique situation where businesses tend to surcharge based on how a customer chooses to pay.”

The surcharge free movement fits Global Retail Brands’ business strategy, with Kupshik adding that it provides the opportunity for the retailer to differentiate itself from other retailers.

“We spend a lot of time with customers in our store and market the whole process. And for customers to take products and get to the cash register, then see a sign there saying they have got to pay a surcharge – it just doesn’t fit in with our general business model. So we like to differentiate ourselves from maybe some of the other retailers out there and not take a grab for cash. The price advertised is the price you pay.”

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