Mobile payment and the connected consumer

shutterstock_166820675Annie Abrams, commerce global partner, client services at DigitasLBi Commerce speaks to Talk Retail about how mobile payment is the next step for the connected consumer.

Mobile devices have become an intrinsic part of the shopper’s journey – from initial product research and price comparisons to buying goods and services. Today’s average consumer now uses five devices when making a purchase – computers, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and now wearable devices – and expects an omni-channel multi-screen experience that seamlessly bridges the online and offline worlds.

For shoppers on the go, mobile has become the platform of choice. And, as the 2015 Connected Commerce survey of consumer shopping habits by DigitasLBi shows, these connected consumers want a hyper-personalised retail experience that includes the ability to pay via their preferred app, wallet or device.

The advent of wearable tech and new mobile payment approaches like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, mean that 2015 could be the year mobile payment takes off, changing the way we pay in real-world shops.

Changing attitudes and behaviours

Smartphones already play a key role in the relationship between consumers and stores. The Connected Commerce survey reveals that 85% of shoppers use a mobile device when in-store, with 33% also confirming they regularly use it to make online purchases.

This tech savvy generation of shoppers is willing to embrace any service that delivers greater convenience and that includes being able to pay on-the-go in the physical store. When asked, 62% of shoppers confirmed they’d be happy to use their mobile as a payment device in-store – and 21% had already done so.

The advent of wearables looks set to take this demand for mobile payment to a new level. The research shows 17% of all shoppers now own a wearable device – and that was before the Apple Watch launched earlier this year.

The growing hunger for mobile payment – offline, or online – means retailers and brands will need to be able to incorporate alternative mobile payment methods fast.

Early adopters are leading the way

The growing availability of NFC (contactless), mobile wallets and QR/barcode payment technologies for ticketing on public transport or small payments at the PoS has fuelled growing consumer acceptance of convenient secure mobile payment options.

But it’s not just about being able to pay – it’s about having your coupons, discounts, vouchers and rewards all in one place. And for those consumers able to take advantage of options that allow them to put cash on their phone or access convenient mobile payment apps, it’s already a winning combination.

Across the world, consumers are increasingly using their phones as in-store payment devices, though the figures differ sharply between, for example, India at 49% of survey respondents, and just 17% in the UK, possibly because their mobile phone does not enable payment as yet.

A game-changing retail trend

Wearable tech is likely to bolster demand for mobile payments further, delivering new opportunities for retailers to engage more closely with customers – for example, with mobile payment apps that give users the option to redeem exclusive offers and coupons or earn loyalty points and rewards.

But the real power of mobile payment for retailers and brands is the ability to harness valuable data on consumer preferences and behaviours to deliver an ‘Amazon-style’ experience for customers that includes personalised real-time marketing messages, in-store offers and recognition of their personalised payment options and preferences too. It’s no longer just about the physical store or online, it’s about seamless engagement across all channels.

A faster, more convenient future

Today’s consumers expect convenience and their loyalties are quickly lost if these expectations aren’t met. Retailers offering transaction points around how people want to shop – and pay – will win consumer wallets. The dominance of smartphones and the advent of wearables means the payment experience is set to become a key differentiator for millions of consumers worldwide.

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