Food Lover's Market and Transaction Junction: A payments journey
Food Lover's Market (FLM) and Transaction Junction (TJ) reflect on a successful partnership that started over six years ago when FLM embarked on a journey to modernise its store network, IT and payment infrastructure.
Michelle Rauch, Group IT Manager at the Food Lover's Market Group, was happy to take some time to chat with us about FLM, her views on the partnership with TJ and to share some insight into the FMCG payment challenges we helped crack.
About Food Lover's Market
Food Lover's Market started as Fruit and Veg City, opening its first family store business in Access Park, Cape Town, in 1993. The business was started by two brothers, Brian and Michael Coppin, driven by their passion for food and people. Today, 28 years later, the company's incredible success has evolved into a multinational operation comprising more than 100 stores, a South African success story that has evolved into the Food Lover's Market brand that we know so well today.
"One of the things that makes Food Lover's Market special is the ability to make changes at the drop of a hat. Our people are encouraged to embrace change and innovate constantly, so being fortunate enough to be a part of such an enabling culture is incredibly inspiring. Naturally, this sets innovation at the heart of who we are, while at the same time, family values remain core to everything that we do or strive for," says Rauch. "Brian and Michael are still involved in every store, instilling the same family values that have been ever-present since the start of that very first single store. Ethics and morals, and sustainable business practices, are synonymous with our culture and approach – a true reflection of who we are."
Built on fresh
Food Lover's Market is in the business of fresh, and it offers fresh food – guaranteed. Unsurprisingly, this freshness guarantee is something Food Lover's Market is exceptionally passionate about, and it is held true to its brand. "We are proud to offer fresh food from the farm yesterday to your plate today. We enjoy close relationships with the farmers, and many of our retailers engage with them directly, building even closer ties within the communities we serve. In some farms, the entire crop belongs to us," says Rauch.
While Food Lover's Market is in the business of fresh, it is also passionate about serving the communities it operates in, which includes social investment into orphanages, old age homes and food banks. For FLM, corporate social investment (CSI) isn't just another catchphrase, it is an intrinsic part of its culture, reflected by its involvement in numerous social responsibility initiatives. Every year, Food Lover’s Market – in association with Tru-Cape Marketing, Simpl Juice, Westfalia, ZZ2 and Crest Shelf – partners with FoodForward SA to help redress hunger in South Africa. The event launches annually on 1 May and culminated with global World Hunger Day on 28 May 2021.
TJ's integration into Food Lover's Market
Transaction Junction reached out to Food Lover's Market in 2015, looking to understand FLM's challenges while at the same time being well-positioned to reflect and share experiences after several years invested into building on a solid portfolio of success in the retail payments industry. At the time, Jurie Matthee, the Managing Director of Transaction Junction, met with Rauch to openly discuss options and goals, while providing a window into the TJ world. After several engagements and an almost instantaneous meeting of minds, a proposal tailored to FLM's business and vision was shared.
Craig Duggan, GM: Payment Services, explains: "At TJ, we understand that making suppositions about where businesses see value is a flawed approach. We prefer first to understand what challenges our customers are facing. This approach is crucial as we look to build relationships framed within the right context – and we are careful not to make assumptions. "Our partnership with Food Lover's Market is an example of true collaboration. Since inception, we have enjoyed a transparent relationship that challenges us in many unique ways. As a result, FLM reflects a brand and set of values that we are proud to be associated with, through our relationship dynamics we can offer and build real value – which is the ultimate reward in the services game," says Duggan.
According to Rauch, Food Lover's Market was not looking for another transaction processor to merely provide a payment solution. Understanding that the payment experience was instrumental to the overall shopping experience, finding a partner that could provide a total solution was critical. Focused on standardising and delivering a new systems approach with minimal disruption was therefore crucial. Finding a partner prepared to deliver and do so consistently while being agile enough to shift focus when needed, take accountability and provide strategic direction together with ability to evolve with their business was paramount.
"We have no payment division; Transaction Junction is our payment division. Since choosing TJ and embarking on this journey together, we have never looked back, and today we have a formidable relationship with them that grows and develops together with our business and technology needs."
Effect on the customer experience
In the early Fruit and Veg City days, everything had to be weighed, and it was a poor experience for a customer to wait in a line with their trolley, only to be sent back to the shop floor if they forgot to get something weighed.
"We wanted to offer convenience by allowing our customers to have their fresh produce weighed at the till. We didn't even know about the rest of the value we would receive, like implementing QR codes. Saving on regulatory costs through TJ’s consistent drive to ensure integrity and security measures evolve while taking care of the customer experience means that TJ leads by example and continues to educate us about the transactions space."
Food Lover's Market offers various payment methods, including card, contactless, cash, airtime at till and several new QR initiatives, which are processed securely through our P2PE certified solution. P2PE provides the highest level of payment security by encrypting card data at the point of entry. A validated and listed solution means that merchants like FLM can benefit significantly from reducing scope, saving on time and costs.
When asking Rauch about how they manage to offer an excellent customer experience through the payments process, she says: "Some of the ways we maintain a positive customer experience is by having a cashier at every checkout whenever possible, accelerating the process and shortening the queues. There may be queues in a store, but they move very fast. We have elevated the importance of getting our customers through the checkout as fast as possible," she explained. "If a customer hasn't weighed their produce, we won't send them back, and we will weigh it right at the till, an automated process that is integrated directly into the point of sale. We have also offered speedy convenience to our customers through contactless payments," she continues.
TJ’s systems also provide detailed insights across platform and technology layers ensuring that the payments service provides comprehensive insight from within the distributed store network that would previously go unnoticed.
TJ's services don't end at transactions
Food Lover's Market uses Transpector to access transaction detail and context-relevant reports, which they say is part of their Bible! According to Lester Sonneman, Head of Product at Transaction Junction: "Transpector offers convenience through a multi-functional portal, providing customers with a view of their transaction processing status, near to real-time. In addition, access to transaction- and reconciliation-related reporting is facilitated through a simple and easy-to-navigate user interface. Essentially, it provides customers with a comprehensive view of their transaction interaction with Transaction Junction, across all payment methods and channels."
For FLM, the service provides insights across the full estate down to individual stores, and ultimately individual lanes that service its customers.
We offer Transpector to all our clients to provide an overall view of transactional information through an intuitive interface using charts and tables. Transpector users can filter transactional information by store, date ranges, approved transactions, declined transactions, card terminal ID and more. The reports can also be saved and exported to an Excel spreadsheet for convenience and administration purposes. End-to-end reconciliation extends the view and flow of financial information even further, making it simple to understand any exceptions during the course of transaction processing.
It's all about putting the retailer's transactional information into their hands most simply and conveniently.
According to Duggan: “In today’s payments world, the customer in-store experience is crucial, but accuracy, maintaining transaction integrity and providing retailers with comprehensive visibility of funds, digital products and services, and the movement of money is essential.”