There has been no shortage of hype around the potential for in-store mobile payments — and for good reason. A mobile-enabled environment provides many benefits for players across this ecosystem.
For merchants of all types, a mobile wallet has the potential to boost revenues and reduce operating costs. One of the most often cited benefits of mobile payments by retailers and foodservice operators is the ability to reduce costs. This may be accomplished by lowering fraud loss and/or payment processing fees — the latter of which is often cited by merchants as the biggest expense after labour. In addition, mobile wallets may be able to move more consumers through the line more efficiently and thus drive revenues. If a merchant is able to leverage a mobile wallet to provide an immediate connection with its consumer base, mobile wallets may have the ability to help a merchant sell more goods and service during slow times by enticing its consumer base with discounts and coupons.
While both reducing costs and driving revenues are important to any business, two of the most often overlooked benefits associated with a mobile wallet may be the ability of a mobile-enabled environment to enhance the customer experience and further the merchant’s brand proposition. In this sense, payments may just be the period at the end of the sentence. Creating a consumer-centric shopping experience will enable companies to remain competitive in this ever-changing landscape. Lastly, a mobile-enabled environment also gives consumer-facing brands a way to differentiate themselves.
Why mobile is so unique
Mobile has truly rewritten the commerce playbook. This is because the mobile phone is the most disruptive force yet unleashed on the once relatively linear path to purchase. Its always-on availability is transforming predictable consumer journeys into dizzying twists and turns. Moving forward, mobile will be the means by which companies connect with consumers, and it is how consumers will research what they purchase.
Mobile commerce is much more powerful than e-commerce ever was. This is largely because mobile is much more than just a channel — it is a bridge between the physical and online worlds. In addition, mobile can provide context around the entire purchase decision. Companies can tailor offers based on the weather, the consumer’s exact location or past purchase history. In addition, consumers can use these devices either in store or on the go to help them locate the desired product or help them comparison shop. Furthermore, mobile offers consumer brands more of a real-time, direct contact with decision-makers than has ever been possible before.
As a result of these numerous benefits associated with a mobile wallet, many merchants, who in this case may more broadly refer to all types of retailers and consumer foodservice operators, are playing a leading role in driving the mobile shift in the commerce arena. In the US, for example, one of the most promising in-store mobile payments platform is being developed by a consortium of 50-plus merchants called the Merchant Customer Exchange. These merchants desire to cut card processing fees, maintain control of the consumer checkout experience and drive the more consumer-centric in-store shopping experience that only mobile can offer. The product dubbed CurrentC is expected to launch in 2015 across the US.
Cater to the anywhere, anytime consumer
Significant opportunities emerge when a retailer, consumer foodservice operator or consumer brand for that matter is invited into a consumer’s mobile world. Increasingly, businesses of all types have to cater to the anywhere, anytime consumers. The rich interactive experience of today’s mobile-enabled world is empowering millions of these connections for the first time and driving a more highly personalised real-world experience. This makes having a mobile strategy critical for businesses across a number of different categories.
There are important benefits to be had for consumer-facing businesses that make a mobile investment and get it right. Merchants of all types need to have a mobile strategy in place to meet the demands of this new hyper connected consumer base that expects brands to sell their wares or services with a personalised touch. Having an effective and robust mobile strategy will encompass both internet-based mobile purchases as well as in-store purchases. These two aspects of a mobile strategy will have to work in tandem, not in isolation from one another. Those merchants not doing something today in the mobile sphere will need to rectify this immediately. This may mean building an in-house app or it might mean deploying a third-party app that meets the business’s specific goals.