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Christmas market of lights: A shining example of cashless payments

Visitors to the "Phantastischer Lichter-Weihnachtsmarkt" in Dortmund enjoy fast and convenient cashless payment at the entrance and soon throughout.

4 Min



Ticket sales for Christmas market


Mobile POS terminal: POS Go

Unzer solutions

The Christmas market of lights in Dortmund – “Phantastischer Lichter-Weihnachtsmarkt” (PLWM) in German – transports visitors to a mystical, medieval world. Stalls offer glimpses into historic crafts and trades, dragon sculptures lurk in the crisp air, fire artists and other fantastic figures await – there is even a floating bridge. But the event organisers live in the here and now and are well aware of the demands of the modern public. Unlike the days of yore, an easy payment experience is key for modern visitors to enjoy the spectacular event to the fullest.

The challenge: Modern payment, digital processes

Dortmund’s PLWM attracts between 300,000 and 350,000 visitors each year, with more than 15,000 people at the event on busy days. For the event organisers, payment was a growing challenge in two ways: On the one hand, they wanted to offer visitors a convenient and fast way to pay for tickets, without having to queue. On the other hand, they wanted to optimise cash management and settling the till. So the responsible marketing agency began looking for the right payment solution for the event.

We wanted to find a payment service provider who could meet the needs of everyone involved, from the organisers and cashiers to stall teams and visitors. And one who will benefit the event in the long term. In a nutshell, we wanted a solution not just for one season, but for years to come.

Mateusz Schreiber, Managing Director of Substanz Berlin (marketing agency responsible for the Christmas market of lights PLWM)

The solution: POS Go benefits both visitors and event organisers

For the 2023 season, the organisers of the Christmas market decided to use POS Go at all tills where entrance tickets are sold. From the first weekend, the benefits were clear. The share of cashless card payments rose from 5% in the previous year to around 40%. At tills where employees explicitly mentioned to visitors that they could pay conveniently by card or smart device, the share was as high as 50%. Staff manning the event’s 25 ticket booths were in constant rotation, with a total of over 100 members of staff selling tickets. This was where the intuitive interface of the mobile terminal really paid off, as the organisers were able to dispense with the hassle of time-consuming training. Another useful feature allowed staff to access and cash up all the different tickets in a matter of seconds using the favourites list.

As hoped, introducing POS Go also simplified the checkout process. The uptick in cashless transactions greatly reduced the complexity of cash management during the event. Fewer resources were needed for counting, sorting, and supplying change to the ticket booths.

When the market switched off its lights at the end of the night, a simple touch of a button on the POS Go dashboard allowed the ticketing staff to generate a till report with a detailed list of receipts by payment method. This meant the entire checkout process was largely digitalised and much faster than in previous years.

Introducing POS GO was a real step forward: Instead of counting cash by hand and tallying up with paper and pen, we now have a digitalised checkout process and a much better experience, both for our visitors and our staff.

Sven Luckner, Head of Accounting & Controlling at Lichterloh Event (PLWM organiser)

The next goal: The same payment experience at all stalls

Payment for entrance tickets is only part of the overall experience for visitors to the Christmas market. The organisers’ next goal is to bring convenient cashless payments to each one of its more than 100 market stalls – both art dealers and food vendors. The compact POS Go was also chosen because of the limited space available at the small, self-built stalls. As well as saving space, POS Go is also wireless, with data being transmitted via a 4G SIM card and WiFi. The battery lasts the whole day, making it perfect for use at events. Intuitive operation and full support from the Unzer team make it easy for any merchant to use the solution.

Another benefit: POS Go also allows chargebacks, making it ideal for paying out deposits on cups and glasses in future events, another common need of participating merchants. With Unzer as the new payment partner, many more process optimisations are planned for the coming years.

Our idea was for the organisers to take the first steps with POS Go, as a kind of “baptism through fire” for the new payment system. The second step is to get all participating merchants on board. Ultimately, we want our visitors to have an excellent payment experience at every touchpoint.

Mateusz Schreiber, Managing Director of Substanz Berlin (marketing agency responsible for the Christmas market of lights PLWM)

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