Cloud billing: pick and mix revenue models take digital retailers wherever their customers go

What else can the cloud do for us? As retailers navigate their way through digital disruption, cloud-based billing is becoming an increasingly attractive option says Sanjay Sarathy, Chief Marketing Officer at Vindicia.

The likes of Pearson, Bloomberg, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Next Issue Media and many others demonstrate two key reasons as to why digital retailers are moving to SaaS: flexibility and security.

These businesses know that it’s essential to be where their customers are – and that just where that is, is a moving target. Their customers manage money in new ways and are constantly adapting their expectations of digital payment services. Getting pricing models right and responding to customers’ needs quickly and cheaply is how digital businesses will survive. With the SaaS billing option, you can tear up your revenue model and start again – as often as you need to – without having to tear down your billing platform.

Outsourcing PCI and privacy requirements is also attractive, particularly with new EU regulations on their way. For a retailer today, doing compliance yourself is, in the words of one commentator, “like a restaurant making its own forks”. 

Getting pricing right
Businesses will and must experiment, exploring the best ways to price themselves in the digital market. One example is Next Issue Media – a publishing consortium including the media giants News Corp, Conde Nast, Time Inc, Hearst and Meredith.

Despite their pedigree and power, these publishers have grown tired of throwing money at their websites, without ever realising the kind of returns they aim for. Their new fear is that tablet technology will prove to be the next money pit.

In the tablet arena, the value of readership and advertising hasn’t been determined yet, so being able to swap and change pricing is really important.

Next Issue Media set up its own Newsstand for tablets using the Android operating system, ie Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and is due to be available on iPad’s iOS system soon. It offers readers access to over 30 highly popular magazines.

There’s some free access to the tablet publications to start with, then the option to buy a one-off issue, or a monthly subscription. If the reader already has a print subscription, the digital subscription is free. But you can also access all the magazines for US$9.99 a month, and then all the weeklies such as Time and The New Yorker as well at US$14.99 month. Next Issue Media is thereby able to implement the Hulu and Netflix “all you can eat” model – allowing readers to access all their magazines in one place, in a similar way to watching subscription TV and movies.

Today, Next Issue Media access is only available in the US, but when the company is ready to take advantage of the global readership delivered via tablet devices, it will be able to accept payments in various currencies and manage sales tax in various countries, thanks to a SaaS billing provider.

Building in security
Besides staying nimble, retailers also worry about handling their customers’ payment details securely. With constant stories about high-level hacks on companies, many C-level types are realising, at last, that they’ve dropped the ball on this.

The right SaaS option comes with Level 1, PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance. This translates into the right answer, when the CEO asks, “just what security do we have in place for customers?”

By keeping your business flexible and your customers safe, prospering in the digital economy is made easier with niche cloud services like billing.


Article Tags: #Payments #Retail #cloud #billing #digital
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