Mobile Payments, Apps Proving Retail Customer Experience Linchpin

November 20, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

If it’s starting to look like more stores are embracing mobile these days on one front or another, it’s likely because they are. Whether it’s a mobile website for expanded inventory with ship-to-store or home delivery, a mobile payments function, or even just an app, retail is increasingly running with this ball, adding more mobile to everyday shopping.

Word from Retail Dive notes that 51 percent of consumers want to use a retailer’s app for faster purchases while in a brick-and-mortar store. That’s telling enough, but word from Retail TouchPoints adds weight to the picture, noting that 54 percent of shoppers routinely put mobile to work in price comparisons, and 48 percent are actively using mobile to conduct product research while in store. Some have even started adding artificial intelligence (AI) elements to shopping, like Sephora’s selfie-based Color Match system that offers advice on what colors to wear based on a user’s face.

Numbers like that make an overall goal rather clear: bring in more mobile. JCPenney’s outgoing head of mobile product, James Meeks, was spotted talking about a customer experience that heavily featured mobile, particularly removing a lot of the barriers between in-store and mobile operations, including adding specific price-checking features and one-step payment systems directly to the app. These sound like good ideas, though given JCPenney’s current downward trajectory, seeing these implemented may not take place.

Mobile payments, naturally, play a big role here. Not only are we seeing mobile do well in places like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, but we’re starting to see mobile take off to the point where every smartphone is a checkout stand. The ability to scan your own barcodes, pay for everything at the business’ app, and then walk right out without ever making contact with a cashier is a thrilling idea, and one that might result in massive layoffs.

Granted, some elements of mobile could ultimately destabilize the economy as we know it, but there are still plenty of mobile elements—mobile payments, price matching, and product research—that could make the customer experience better without the potential economic damage long-term. By incorporating these elements, businesses will give customers more of what they want, and raise the chances that that store will be customers’ go-to of choice later on.