The Future of Payments and Consumer Experience: What Are Customers Doing Today?

Dan Dufault |

June 26, 2012

Future of Payments

There’s little doubt that mobile payments is making its way to the in-store countertop. However, the ability to scrap a physical wallet for a mobile version is not enough accelerant to fuel a retail revolution. Mobile payments are more than a replacement for checks or plastic. The future of payments will materialize when mobile transactions focus on customer experience and not just the transaction.

Although mobile payment technology is not always present at checkouts today, consumers are using their devices in stores. According to a recent study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 73 percent of smartphone owners say they have used their mobile phone in a store. If consumers are not using mobile to complete transactions, how are they using it?

Consumers are using mobile to augment their in-store experience. Their activities run the gamut from price comparison and product reviews to scanning QR codes and researching mobile coupons. Consumers want to use their phone in stores in ways that extend beyond payments.

The worst thing for the industry to do is ignore how consumers are currently using their devices. In March, the Federal Reserve found that 65.6 percent of in-store mobile comparison-shoppers eventually changed their purchase decision while researching in a retail location. 65.6 percent is a significant number of missed sales opportunities. Further, this problem cannot be solved by the simple addition of a mobile payment option. How then, can mobile be used to get a comparison shopper to checkout and not head to their car?

Merchants need to be empowered with experiential tools that attract customers and keep them in their store. Clearly, mobile comparison-shopping is becoming part of the customer experience. By acknowledging this fact, merchants can react with mobile counter offers and deals targeting this customer population. The sale might be less than a list price, but think of the potential 65.6 percent leaving and a discount becomes a small price to pay. In addition, these types of deals up the loyalty ante by rewarding shoppers through in-store touch points that they’re already pursuing.

In the end, when mobile payment platforms are cemented, consumers will ultimately choose the options that provide the best experience. Over the next few months, Merchant Warehouse is going to take an in-depth look at the experiential tools driving mobile payments. This series of posts will investigate the technology options currently available and how retailers have already found success by embracing the future of payments and mobile credit card processing.