A Day in the Life of a Mobile Consumer

Merchant Warehouse |

December 18, 2012

Buying Donuts with Mobile Phone

According to a recent survey, The Harris Poll, I am in the minority in terms of consumer buying behavior. This classification is not because I am a super-frugal person (I am not), but rather because of “how” I choose to spend my money. Huh? Let me clarify: I am part of the “4%”, a group of consumers that pay for everyday items using their smartphone. I know you might be thinking, “But isn’t that just a gimmick with no advantage over traditional payments like cash or credit/debit cards?” Not at all, and to prove my point, let me share a real-world experience that just happened to me this past weekend.

I scheduled an early service appointment for my car on Saturday morning to avoid any holiday traffic since the dealership is 40 minutes away. I left the house with my typical itinerary: 1) pick up a box of donuts from the shop around the corner from the dealership to say “thanks” to the service team for taking care of my car, 2) grab a quick drink and snack to go from a local coffee shop, then 3) eat my breakfast and hang out at the dealership while the car gets serviced, and finally 4) return home. No problem.

However, when I walked into the donut shop ready to place my order, I realized I DID have a problem: I left my wallet at home. How would I pay for the donuts? Then I saw their new “Download our Free Mobile App” sign and I knew exactly what to do.

I stepped out of the line and downloaded the “donut shop” app to my smartphone. Then I had to configure the onboard loyalty card for making payments. While I didn’t have my physical wallet, I did have my “digital wallet archive” app that allowed me to securely access my credit card credentials from the Cloud-based encrypted storage service. A few minutes later, I was walking out the door with a box of donuts in hand and a new payment/loyalty app on my smartphone.

Next stop: breakfast. Since I already had a “coffee shop” app in my phone, I used it to locate the nearest shop, which happened to be only one mile away. Again, no wallet required, just my smartphone. This time, it took less than a minute to walk in, select my items, pay with my phone (and collect my reward points at the same time), and walk out.

After all that, I still made it to the dealership on time. The donuts were a huge hit with the service team, I got to enjoy my breakfast while I waited, and they had me in and out in less than 30 minutes. When I went to the cashier’s window to settle the bill, once again, no wallet was needed since I had the “Complimentary Service” coupon from my email right on my phone. Thanks to my smartphone and the robust mobile payment and loyalty capabilities of these forward-thinking businesses, I didn’t have to reschedule my entire morning.

In the US alone, a majority of consumers (like me) believe that smartphone payments will eventually replace both payment card (66%) and cash (61%) transactions for a majority of purchases.  Even better, about 65% of tech experts believe cash and credit cards may become obsolete by as early as 2020!

This is just the beginning of the mCommerce (mobile commerce) revolution happening all around us. More and more consumers and businesses are realizing the speed, efficiency, and value that mobile payments can bring to the consumer-merchant experience.

In this case, being part of the “4%” is a good thing, and we are growing larger every day.