Using digital solutions to enhance the retail journey does more than improve the experience for current lottery players. It also aids discovery and trial among new ones. And importantly, many components don’t require changes to local regulations. IGT’s Srini Nedunuri, Vice President PlayLottery, discusses a logical path to adoption, defined by player needs.
La Fleur’s: We keep hearing about the modern retail journey, but what will it take to reach the tipping point of real, widespread change?
Nedunuri: It’s quite interesting, both lotteries and players are undergoing a transition period with digital. The industry is moving toward a retail experience that can’t be compared to the player journey as it is today. It’s a topic of conversation almost every time we speak with customers. Giving players the conveniences they want is how the industry will reach that tipping point of widespread change, and we’re focused on delivering the solutions that support lotteries in this effort.
Most players want to check their ticket to see if they won a prize, for example. You can provide this function via a lottery mobile app. And if they won, they’re excited—so the player’s next step is, “How do I claim this prize?” If you offer them that ability on the same app where they’re checking their ticket, that’s the most important and useful next step forward. Then they want to know, “How can I collect this money? Can I take it as cash or as an electronic payment?” That will be possible next year through IGT’s lottery mobile app.
When players use these functions, they can check their own instant or draw game tickets and claim lower-tier prizes from wherever they wish—in-store, in the comfort of their home, or another spot. This alone is a major new benefit for players. They can keep the prize in their eWallet, and the next time they’re back at a store and want to buy another lottery product, the retailer can scan the app and extract the payment digitally from the player’s eWallet balance—which is something that our research tells us is very popular among players. It’s the same way a lot of people now buy their regular morning coffee, and this also reduces cash handling for the retailer. Or the player can show the bar code and receive their cash-prize payout.
Now their journey is not only more convenient, but it also continues to support repeat retail sales—just one of the ways that digital features will benefit the larger retail transformation effort. There are many other points where you can modernize and digitize the retail player experience, but this is a great place to start.
La Fleur’s: As the industry advances to a true omnichannel experience, how is IGT looking at the bigger picture?
Nedunuri: We anticipated this transformation, and we’ve worked to ensure lotteries have digital solutions to remove contact and cash from the retail journey and dramatically enhance player convenience. As the industry has seen, the pandemic emphasized this need and accelerated consumers’ adoption of cashless and contactless solutions for other purchases, so players are ready for this. That’s why we’re excited to make IGT’s Scan & Redeem solution available to lotteries. Together with IGT’s eWallet feature, it will enable the journey I’ve just described. Players will also have the option to fund their eWallet from multiple payment providers or top-up funds at a retail store. Using the eWallet in retail is not an internet transaction, which means any lottery can implement the feature, whether regulated to offer internet wagering or not.
Along with being cashless, contactless, and more convenient, these features allow lotteries to start capturing and understanding the activities of their users, which can also help to inform their Responsible Gaming Programs. It’s still anonymized, but now you know how many players are using them, and you can build up an anonymized profile and make use of that for various marketing activities.
La Fleur’s: Why should lotteries prioritize the adoption of mobile payments versus other investments?
Nedunuri: Mobile devices have become so powerful that people use them for everything. A popular coffee chain reported in its Q2 earnings report this year that more than a quarter of all its consumer purchases made in the U.S. are done via a smartphone. This certainly signals that significant change is underway, and it’s important to understand and serve these user behaviors.
Consumers have relied on mobile apps over the past year of the pandemic to purchase groceries, to use streaming services, and to order takeout. So, creating a username and password is now a familiar task, and people are comfortable with the value of the convenience and personalization they receive in return.
Again, lotteries aren’t limited by regulations in adding this capability, and the eWallet is available now. You’re not selling tickets online or asking people to play online—but you can modernize the whole experience of entertainment that traditional lottery provides by implementing a mobile app solution.
La Fleur’s: How do you view the player’s mobile experience as it relates to retail?
Nedunuri: We’re constantly evaluating what it takes to improve the experience at the retail point of sale. For example, in our daily lives, we know that if we’re buying something—maybe it’s a blender —often the first thing we do is Google it and check the reviews. What are others saying? You look at the feedback, the comments, and ask, “What are my needs?” After you do this research online, you might go to a physical shop to check what they have. You may have formed an opinion by then, and if the product lives up to what you expected, the decision is made. But, even then, you might look for the right price—while you’re in the store, you might search on your mobile phone for the best possible discount.
If you reverse that approach to look at retail-to-online, it’s important to note the typical steps and the points where a mobile app can provide the choice that the player is looking for. What do users come for, what are they buying, why are they buying? – and make that convenient for players using a mobile app. For example, a player might see a lottery product at retail and then purchase it on the app after doing more research online about how to play or about other product details. Mobile is one of the touchpoints that players have with the lottery brand, and those are the touchpoints that need to be modernized.
Another experience that lotteries can improve is loyalty. Creating loyalty programs around second chance promotions has become an industry standard. Taking loyalty to the next level means emulating some of the best loyalty experiences, like those offered by airlines. This may include offering points for purchases, which can accumulate. Then you’re capturing anonymized data about the activity of the user. And if a user consents to give personal data, you can analyze the information and give that user all the benefits of knowing what they love to play and purchase—and offer them additional discounts and prize benefits when using their loyalty points. It’s another way to enhance the overall experience of the user at retail, and IGT provides that ability to make loyalty purchases at retail. Players can scan a player card, access their loyalty points, and use the points to purchase lottery products. They can also use their points to create a loyalty-point voucher, which they can take to a retailer if the lottery hasn’t embraced the full player-card journey yet.
La Fleur’s: With so much changing—and with new features and products always in development—how can you make it easier for lotteries to stay on top of what’s new?
Nedunuri: One way, which we’re excited about, is that we’ve created an iLottery portal that’s designed with our customers in mind: the new IGT iLottery Showcase.
This is one way for us to communicate with our lottery customers around the globe, and this portal will continue to evolve.
It’s launching now, and it allows customers to immerse themselves in our eInstant content portfolio. They can play our games online as soon as they’re released. And if customers that offer iLottery like a particular game, they can work with our local site teams to launch it. You can formulate your own roadmap from our pipeline and download the graphical assets for promotional purposes when you launch.
This portal will also have product information, case studies, videos, news, and events—so it’s one convenient and secure place to keep our customers updated. After all, we’re talking about convenience, and we’re very excited because this will make access easier for all our customers.