Christmas is approaching and for most people that means one thing – lots of shopping. With schemes like Black Friday / Cyber Monday expected to smash all previous records, mobile payments has a significant role to play.
But beyond NFC payments the opportunity to engage consumers in loyalty and reward schemes, bring mPos in to play, check inventory etcetera, is helping position mobile right at the heart of an omni-channel retail approach.
We asked MEF members and the wider mobile community for their thoughts on the role of mobile in enhancing the shopping experience during the festive season.
Steve Summers, SVP and General Manager Europe, Mahindra Comviva
NFC has been much talked about this year, especially with the commercial launch of Android Pay and Samsung Pay to compete with the year old Apple Pay.
Uptake, while encouraging, is still low primarily because customers are not used to tapping their phones to pay. The customer’s muscle memory instinctively pulls out the plastic instead of the phone. What adds to all the confusion is that people manning the point of sale are not well trained to prompt the customer or assist them. In many nations, both the customer and merchant look at a mobile tap suspiciously.
Bringing loyalty and couponing to the mix makes things interesting. With the Xmas shopping season round the corner, customers have to carry around not only the payment card, but also a multitude of loyalty cards and discount pamphlets. This creates the best opportunity for service providers to shake things up. Proximity payments can help with faster checkouts where a single tap can redeem coupons, make payments and accrue loyalty points.
With 2015 being the year of technological innovations in payments, payment service providers need to start converging technology, usability and convenience to provide compelling value propositions to the customer.
Jens Johan Schwarzer
VP of Innovation
Jens Johan Schwarzer, VP of Innovation, Unwire
The lack of open standards is a severe hindrance to a broader adaptation of proximity payments. Most standards are attached to proprietary ecosystems, and that limits innovation and fragments the market.
I think that we are seeing an evolution towards loyalty 2.0, where loyalty becomes a transparent benefit linked to your payment methods or activities, rather that being a virtual vouchers, coupons and stamp cards. Today’s loyalty rewards the consumer without requiring them to take any action, it follows their activities.
Mobile payments should always be considered a part of an omnipayments strategy. The real question is omni-channel to whom? The bank, the merchant, the payment provider? Everyone has the potential to reach out to the end-user across channels, and the winner is going to be the one that adds the most value.
mPOS is a part of the general tendency that hardware and software is becoming increasingly cheaper and easier to produce. mPOS is a part of this disruption and we will see existing PoS systems, replaced by mPOS variants. Beacons are also an interesting technology, however iBeacons are not going to take off. The reason is that beacons needs the user to install a host app from the merchant or loyalty scheme. However the Eddystone standard seems to be much more open and easy for the user to access. Success of the Eddystone however relies on whether or not Apple will implement it on a system wide basis on iOS.
Matt Hunt, CEO, Apadmi Enterprise
Proximity payments were touted as the next big thing in mobile payment technology, and to a certain extent this still rings true. However, factors such as security fears, as well as long term shopping and payments habits, mean they are still only used by a small number of the UK population and have been slow to take off.
Many customers state security as their main reason for being reluctant to use in-store mobile payments. Therefore in order to boost uptake, retailers need to make consumers aware that mobile payments have a unique purchase protection. Emphasising that the user’s card number and identity are never revealed, with everything protected by ID verification services, will help put their mind at rest.
Almost every large multi-national corporation has started accepting mobile payment in some form, including McDonalds, Nandos, Waitrose and Starbucks, to name but a few. Any good retailer must consider the future impact of proxy payments, in order to have a truly omni-channel marketing strategy.
The ability of beacon apps to alert retailers when a mobile app user is present in the store can be invaluable when it comes to connecting shoppers with sales. The problem comes when there are several stores in close proximity to each other, all with their own beacon apps.
For example, when in shopping malls and city centres, there could easily be 20 or more beacon vendor apps on one phone, when customers may have no intention of shopping in those particular stores at that time. These are limitations that certainly need to be ironed out before beacons are a viable opportunity.
Richard Kolodynski, Senior Vice President, iVend
With this year’s Black Friday set to drive over £1bn of sales, maximising on conversions during the Christmas trading period is critical. With shoppers no longer differentiating between channels, retailers need to mirror this behaviour by offering customers seamless omnichannel experiences by bridging both the on- and -offline divide – and mobile is a key enabler in this process.
Mobile presents an unparalleled opportunity for companies to hold a one-on-one conversation with their target audience on a device that’s always on, and always to hand. Consumer loyalty is essential to driving seasonal profits and maximising sales margins and by adopting an experiential approach to mobile loyalty schemes and optimising personalisation targeting, retailers can ensure offers are relevant to the consumer. And as a result will reap the rewards of targeting interested consumers, ready to interact with the brand and spend money.
What’s more, our research shows 72% of European consumers complete all or most of their shopping in-store, so during busy trading times, such as Black Friday, store footfall can cause lengthy queues which detract from bricks-and-mortar consumer shopping experiences. mPOS solutions can help retailers reduce queuing times by enabling staff to take payments on a mobile device; indeed, 1 in 4 consumers claim they’d like more sales associates to take payments via tablets to reduce queue lengths*. In addition, mobile proximity payments enable a more streamlined approach to retargeting and loyalty retention – aspects retailers cannot afford to ignore.
Uwe Hennig, CEO, Detego
In simplistic terms, ‘POS is where I do my purchase’. With online retailers, the process is very simple, but this digital method is only just transferring to stores.
2016 will see a huge surge in the functionality of POS through payment via smartphone or smartwatch. Additionally, mobile POS with credit card readers can offer the retailer flexibility and the chance to change their store setup.
Retailers no longer need to devote so much floor space for tills when everything is becoming mobile based. Store set up, the positioning of shelves and displays will become more flexible as the POS becomes linked with the customer’s exact location. The customer will no longer have to queue, leading to a fully functional omni-channel experience.
VP EMEA and Asia
Jerome Laredo VP EMEA and Asia, Lightspeed POS
Like any new technology, proximity payments have taken time to catch on. However, I think in some cases it may be merchants that are lagging behind consumers. I think it’s key that businesses are open-minded about adopting different ways of processing payments.
Customers like convenience and choice, for products but also with their preferred method of payment. And it’s not just the purchasing that can be made high tech. Merchants should also consider moving their traditional loyalty schemes to a mobile platform.
Costa’s Coffee Club app, for example, offers customers a loyalty reward scheme without the need for a physical loyalty card. Loyalty schemes are popular with consumers – even more so if they can collect points when they don’t have their physical card with them and can be signed up to many different schemes without having to carry multiple cards for different stores. Retailers improve their loyalty app’s popularity by putting offers within the app that consumers may have missed in the marketing emails.
Retail technology has moved on and it’s important that retailers keep up with what is convenient for their customers, at the same time catering for the tastes of those shoppers who prefer traditional methods.
Some consumers may be reluctant to pay via mobile due to security concerns. Perception matters and you need to communicate with your staff and customers about the safety measures you have in place and the level of security for mobile payments which compares favourably to all other payment methods.
Proximity payments don’t capture a customer’s data, shopping preferences or contact details. They help speed up the transaction but there’s something to be said for having a good ePOS system that can gather useful data about customer behaviour. Mobile payment should be just one step in your business’s omni-channel strategy. Speed and convenience will benefit both shopper and shop, but if you can link your online, in store, in stock records through an omni-channel system then the technology can really work wonders.
Myles Dawson, UK Country Manager, Adyen
The UK is strides ahead in terms of mobile payments, which account for as much as 47% of all online transactions. And with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other mobile wallets making mobile payments increasingly mainstream, we can expect this figure to grow in 2016.
This increase in mobile shoppers comes with a shift in the way customers interact with brands. With their mobiles in their pockets, they can take advantage of the best of both the online and in-store experience. They can browse online, check reviews, on social platforms, try on clothes in-store, and pay with a single click.
The result of this omnichannel set-up is that sales channels can support one another. The customer in-store can have access to the online inventory, meaning sales are no longer lost due to an item being out of stock. And by allowing customers to buy online and pick up in store, retailers are greatly improving the opportunity for cross-selling – as one survey revealed that 54% shoppers will buy additional items while in the shop.
Mobile plays a central role in the blurring of lines between sales channels, and gives retailers the opportunity to increase customer satisfaction, boost sales and ultimately grow revenue.
Aaron Shields, Strategy Director EMEA, FITCH
People want to shop on their terms: in the bathroom, on a bus or at the café. Mobile payments unlock the convenience of making purchases anywhere we want. So it makes sense that convenience focussed retailers like Argos are first to benefit. Industry pundits agree that proximity payments will grow, but many challenges remain:
- Manufacturers are fighting for dominance to make their ecosystems stickier. This fighting encourages retailers and shoppers to wait for a champion to emerge.
- Retailers are balking at the cost and complexity of rollout. Apple has been the most successful here and is now accepted at 1.5m locations across the US.
- Shoppers need to change their behaviour and many do not yet see NFC card payments as a problem to be solved. Only 16.6% of Apple Pay customers have used the technology so far and a third forgets they have it.
Forrester predicts hockey-stick like growth off of meagre volumes in the US to date – shifting from $8.9b in 2015 to $118b by 2018. Young people are happy with Apple Pay, but they are far from unanimous in their joy.
Customer behaviour is always the biggest hurdle in this kind of change. If proximity payment can be incentivised or made ‘much better’ then growth will be exponential. If not we can expect incremental growth as proximity payments battle it out with trusted contactless and chip & PIN solutions.
Andy Ramsden, VP Sales & Business Development EMEA, Proxama
With the majority of smartphones now capable of interacting with consumers via NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and their increasing use for payments, smartphones present a genuine opportunity for richer mobile commerce experiences.
The commerce experience begins much earlier than at the checkout – it can start at home, on the bus and even when walking along the high street. However, consumers are spoilt for choice as to where to buy their goods and services from. This opens up more opportunity to brands and retailers to influence consumers with innovative, meaningful technology.
Beacons (BLE), smart tags and NFC can engage and influence consumers along their commerce journey, offering a wide range of content, information, offers and even ‘thank you’ messages and follow-up incentives following a store visit. Therein lies a whole host of benefits for the consumer that extend far beyond ‘just’ making a payment.
By leveraging the power of the modern smartphone and overlaying smart, value added services that bring real benefit to consumers, we can provide them with compelling reasons to change their payment behaviour and reap the benefits in their mobile, which outweighs anything possible from the plastic card. Changing consumer behaviour is never easy and it will only happen when there are real, significant, tangible benefits. Value added services could well be the way we achieve that for mobile commerce.
Simon Hewitt, CEO, ScramCard
Faced with the rising cost of card fraud, banks are looking to new technologies that can provide greater security. However these solutions often come at the cost of convenience, are too expensive to deploy, or will take too long to become ubiquitous. Ultimately, payment methods are only successful if consumers want to use them and banks can afford to deploy them.
Weak security on mobile devices mean that smartphones and smart watches do not offer a truly secure cashless payment option. With mobile devices easily compromised, many consumers are understandably fearful of using these devices to make payments, while many retailers and banks do not yet offer the ability to pay with a mobile device.
With mobile payments still a long way from mass acceptance, we need a solution today where nothing (infrastructure-wise) has to change to achieve real innovation. Though, currently the gap between card and mobile is too wide, we need something in between the two to really pique the interests of banks. Future solutions we create must be viable on all fronts.
The Logic Group
Andy Mellor, Product Manager, The Logic Group
The current year has seen a massive growth in contactless payments. The UK Cards Association reported that contactless payments exceeded £750m in September, an increase of almost 200% over the year – contactless is taking off and it is driven by consumers.
The introduction of new mobile payment methods into the UK market will further fuel this growth. This goes against the idea that loyalty schemes could drive mobile payments. These use technology to simplify the consumer payment journey with a secure contactless payment that can be accepted in any location already accepting contactless. There are no loyalty incentives in this model, just an improved customer experience.
Ultimately, the merchants who deliver the best overall customer experience will win. This may be through simplified in-store or through integration of all the facets of a retailer to support a true omnichannel experience for the consumer, delivering consistency across all touch-points and allowing the consumer to undertake a multi-part journey as, when and however they need.”
Head of Innovation
Mubaloo Innovation Lab
Mike Crooks, Head of Innovation Mubaloo Innovation Lab
Retailers are struggling with their backend systems and linking up the customer journey, making implementing beacon engagements a challenge for many. In terms of proximity payments, the tech limitations are still there and there are better and easier ways to make payments. The only company that is really succeeding here is Starbucks, but even then, they are limiting it to a select few stores, for now.
Consumers are just coming to terms with mobile payments, which has required a fair amount of education. Retailers should be asking whether proximity payments actually help solve any problems. On the one hand, they make life easier for customers if they can walk into a shop or food venue and pick up what they’ve ordered quickly. Yet, that also requires these venues to hire or assign employees who are focussed on preparing the products for customers to pick up and verifying that it’s the right customer.
Instead of focussing on proximity payments, retailers should be focussed on how to deliver the very best possible customer service and help customers with mobile. If they want to help with payments, retailers should be embracing mobile payment methods from Apple, Google and Samsung, ensuring that customers can pay in the way that is most convenient to them.