Written June 3, 2016 • Steve Perry
When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is —Oscar Wilde
Money is such an interesting tool; a powerful instrument for change throughout the world. Whilst we in the developed world know what money looks and feels like, we often see it more as a series of numbers. From the balance in our accounts when an invoice has been paid, to the chunks we distribute amongst the hands of corporations we’re subscribed to. We have become used to money more as a concept than a physical item because it is easier to move it from one place to another without having to handle it.
With this ability to shift sums of money from one place to another, online shopping has become so much easier. Internet Retailing (March 2016, p.18) revealed in their study of retailers that 21–50% of online purchases are often made via an app. If the purchasing process is not straight-forward, or the app doesn’t have the facilities a customer expects, then that potential sale is lost.
With the rise of omni-channelling, as discussed in a previous blog, it has become more important than ever to make the customer’s journey painless. The odd rough road may be forgiven, but potholes in your processes are unlikely to inspire brand advocacy or returning custom. A visit to physical stores has its pros and cons, but one of the main problems for customers is the length of time it takes to find an item, queue, and then process a payment. How can you make the sale that much quicker and easier for your busy customers? Cross-channelling done well offers a variety of ways in which a retailer can improve experience within a physical store. The main problem area seems to be at the checkout stage – I’ve been there too! You have a basket or trolley full of items, and a queue full of people in front of you, because it takes so long to pack and process cash or card payments. Not forgetting the addition of loyalty card schemes and discounts. Express and self-serve checkouts have helped ease the pressure on busy till staff, but it’s not the only option that some retailers have begun to test drive.
There has been a rise in the availability of payment systems that makes transactions quicker. Contactless cards were one avenue the banks went down. It’s mostly effective but many consumers don’t feel like it’s a particularly secure route. Innovators within the industry continue to work on ways of improving the payment systems currently in place, such as Apple Pay and Stripe, which allows a customer to manage payments themselves in-store. For many retailers who want to be the instigators of change, their apps have moved beyond stock checks, ordering, and click or collect options and have now become a way to pay in-store too.
The customer’s details are securely stored and all they have to do is enter the app and process the payment from there. It’s incredibly rare that a person leaves home or work without their phone in hand, but forgotten bags, cards and cash are fairly frequent occurrences. This makes an incredibly efficient sales journey whilst also being very convenient for the customer. Restaurants particularly are seeing the benefits of mobile payments, such as the use of the Qkr! payment app by Azzuri Group restaurants: Ask Italian, Zizzi and Carlucc. As Alex from Mobile Marketing explains in his article, these payment apps allow customers to manage their bill and payments from their table, rather than having to wait for staff or queue to pay.
What is interesting is that ecommerce platforms, such as Magento, have begun introducing apps and extensions to their payment gateway so that purchases through apps can integrate with online and offline activity. Examples of this are the apps OneScan and KPMG Crimsonwing which allow customers to pay online or in-store with a mobile app without having to re-enter details. This becomes a very interesting opportunity for retailers from a variety of industries to begin to consider how these extensions can work for them.
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