Not only are customers now empowered to compare prices, products and brand reputations before they decide to purchase, thanks to smartphones and other mobile devices — but new advances in mobile technology are about to inflict even greater impacts on the retail environment as we know it. This is due in large part to changes in industries that aren’t generally direct competitors to retailers.
In a recent study conducted by WorldPay, for example, 83 percent of airline carriers surveyed said improving and advancing how they leverage mobile payment technology is a major business priority, including an increased focus on how to accept and incentivize e-wallet-style payments, and a reduced reliance on kiosks. As consumers become more accustomed to such increased conveniences, there will be a new type of demand on other types of retailers to integrate mobile payments into their future business models. Here’s a look at how the customer experience is changing across a range of industries — and how to adapt so you can meet and exceed customers expectations at the retail level.
1. Make your search and checkout seamless. A recent study by Juniper Research indicates that shoppers are likely to spend more on purchases they make with a mobile device compared to those made at a desktop computer. Similarly, Internet Retailer recently reported that the total number of customer smartphone visits, including multiple visits by the same person, increased about 101 percent between March 2013 and March 2014; smartphone orders jumped nearly 130 percent in the same time period. If your site is not equipped to accommodate smartphone shoppers with an easy-to-use iOS and Android app that is simple (and fast) to find and download, facilitates search, and offers a simple and secure online checkout experience, you’re missing a key opportunity to meet customers where they are — and will continue to miss opportunities in the future.
2. Optimize loyalty programs. With the increase of mobile technology, retailers aren’t just competing to offer customers the best price and products — they must figure out how to produce deep customer relationships that help to overcome privacy and security concerns that accompany mobile payments and technology. Retailers who are able to “retool” basic customer loyalty programs into a highly customized experience that makes customers feel understood will be more successful in building the customer trust and confidence that mobile payments require. Ultimately, the retailers who win customers on an emotional level will increase mobile business.
3. Acknowledge and accommodate rising trends. Wearable technology may be of primary interest to the “early adopters” now, but as TechCrunch recently reported, ABI Research predicts that more than 537 million wearable devices will ship annually by 2018 — placing particular importance on smart watches and glasses. Though just how customers will use these items to purchase at the retail level in the future remains unclear, they’re a new form of mobile technology that is sure to evolve and grow in popularity. Retailers who stay aware of how customers use the technology and integrate various tests and learn to enhance the customer experience in their retail environments have a unique opportunity to set the tone for the future of customer service.
Written by Kristen Gramigna, Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, providing retail payment processing solutions for merchants of all sizes. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.