Apple Pay/Mobile Payments: What retailers are missing?

Apple Pay, Mobile Payments, Google Wallet, and all such are great initiatives to change yet another habit – wallets/purses, plastic money, and cash. The minor skirmish that followed the launch of Apple Pay where many leading retailers blatantly refused to adopt or in some instances backtrack in favor of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) backed CurrentC is a telling tale of low-margins, credit card transactions fees, and a relentless race to get better with margins. There is nothing wrong with that as the wall street measures & incentives are tied to those metrics but I wonder if anyone is thinking about the possibilities?

My experience at a store. I am sure you have yours…

If you’ve been to your local retailer, you may probably notice series of electronic scanning devices at the entrance. You basically walk-up to the kiosk, enter your rewards number, grab the scanning device, and scan as you go (with caveats). The device even shows you a few deals within the vicinity of aisles. Then when you get to the payment kiosk, payment is a three step process – 1) you enter your rewards number, scan a bar code, follow instructions to complete the transaction.

In this day and age the usability of this is a bit clunky. For example, vegetables & fruits still need to be weighed, a new bar code be generated on scale, manually pasted on the package, and then scanned. The device itself seems like an old school phone.

However, let’s not get carried away with what it isn’t but rather laud the effort in the right direction & the shopping conveniences embedded in it. Now let’s take that and apply the possibilities.

What my potential experience could be…

On days like these, when I read about significant but petty skirmishes that doesn’t include the customer, I wonder:

  • As a shopper, I walk into a retail store with my SmartPhone.
  • iBeacon/NFC automatically prompts & launches the App for me.
  • Since it already knows the current store and repository – all I have to do is simply scan away and add things to my shopping cart.
  • As I walk the aisles, the App knows about me and doesn’t prompt me a deal about buying meat when I am looking for tomatoes.
  • As soon as I am done with my shopping – I simply pay with my TouchID and walk out the store.

Now layer that with services like create your grocery list, generate a smart feed of coupons, let shoppers take the deals away, and slowly but steadily build a data repository of your loyal customers that then becomes a key business differentiator.

The retailing habits of many people probably has patterns such as the grocery store they go to, things they buy and the frequency of it, even the pattern of how they troll the store, and much more. Alas, if only retailers focused on the value differentiator (e.g. mining of data) to deliver a cracker-jack smart retailing experience for customers.

Of course there are many efficiencies for the retailers – reduced wait time for customers in the store, reduced space for point of sale (POS) terminals, redeployment of personnel to enable shopping experience, knowing a lot more about your customers, adding differentiated services, and very importantly winning unflinching loyalty.

There is enough operational efficiency & shopping experience that will eventually let the retailers have their way with currencies. Guess what the game of currency is also going to change.

Instead of moving with speed to what we can call Smart Retailing, retailers are caught up in the pettiness of short-sightedness. What do you think?

Image Credit: Sourced from Pixabay under Creative Commons.

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