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Retailers, payment platforms unveil mobile technologies to raise omnichannel game

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For many retailers the holiday shopping season can literally mean the difference between growth and expansion or their ultimate demise. The combination of fierce competition on pricing, the need for fast and accurate delivery and maintaining enough inventory to meet consumer demand, can expose the most experienced retailer.

The increasing demand for omnichannel shopping options, means that retailers need to convert millennial and Generation Z consumers from passive shoppers into paying customers on a mobile platform with a service that can securely handle a large volume of traffic, engage the customer and hopefully draw those same customers into the store to potentially make more purchases.

Smartphones impacted more than one-third of the $1 trillion in holiday sales in 2017, according to a September blogpost by Fiona Swerdlow, vice president and research director at Forrester Research.

She said in the three months before her post, 73 percent of of U.S. smartphone owners researched physical products on their phone while they were in the store, while 46 percent of EU-5 smartphone owners did the same.

Retailers need to streamline checkout and payments to drive mobile conversion by insuring you have the correct “input masks,” [to ensure accurate formatting of user data] parsing form fields and limiting digital wallets to those that your customers make use of.

Point of sale integration continues to be a problem when it comes to integrating the capabilities of merchants with mobile payment systems, according to Maya Mikhailov, co-founder and chief marketing officer at GPShopper. In some cases this means that POS systems need to be upgraded to accept NFC-based mobile payments such as Android or Apple Pay, she said.

“Even when the POS hardware is updated, some retailers haven’t enabled mobile payments  from the software end,” she told MPT. “But this can also mean opening standards on the devices themselves to allow third parties access to the NFC systems needed to encourage more players,”

She said the retailers most directly impacted by these problems are those in the middle tier, as large retailers have the resources available to make large scale changes to their computer systems, while companies like Square can assist even one-shop retailers with their requirements.

“The laggards right now are in the middle — too big for square, but too small to make the capital investment needed for a POS upgrade,” she said.

Store experience

Retailers like Target, which operates more than 1,800 physical stores, but also has a major online and mobile business, have utilized mobile to help put pressure Amazon and rival big box retailer Walmart, by aggressively promoting same day delivery through its Shipt acquisition and earlier this month launching its “skip the line” technology where customers can use mobile checkout with the help of a Target associate from any part of the store to avoid the in-store cashier lines.

A ongoing issue regarding mobile shopping is that consumers have express reluctance to complete major purchases online and prefer to go into a physical store to purchase items above a certain price point.

An October study released by Square shows that 45 percent of consumers plan to make a purchase of $250 or more during the holiday season, however 61 percent of consumers would feel more comfortable making that purchase if they had the ability to pay for it over time.

In response to this concern, Square launched a program called Square Installments, which allows merchants working with the platform to provide immediate decisions to customers buying between $250 and $10,000, according to spokesman Enrique Petino-Daly.. The plan allows customers to get a decision from the comfort of home or at the register, with monthly payment ranging from three to 12 months.

He said a key differentiator for this program is the seller is not involved in the decision making on whether to provide the extended installment plans.

“Generally, we’ve heard tremendous feedback on the impact Square installments can have on a seller’s growth,” he told MPT.

For example, one seller, Fly1 Motorsports, an automotive restyling business in Southern California, saw a 20 to 30 percent sales increase after offering Square Installments and average order values shot up 55 percent at the firm.

Joe Leija, head of Ingenico ePayments, North America, said that consumers are generally driving more demand for retailers to know their customer’s payment preferences and know the most efficient way to reach that goal.

“The bottom line is in 2019 retailers both in online and physical must know their consumer’s preferences like the back of their hands,” he said. “The appropriate payment data will allow merchants to better prepare for future trends of consumers whether that’s biometrics, bitcoin or another emerging technology.”


Republished with permission from Mobile Payments Today.

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