Thursday, December 20, 2012

More Ways Mobile is Changing the Retail Experience

Square payments at Starbucks
Retailers around the U.S. are adopting mobile strategies – and CPG brands would be remiss to ignore this growing trend. The importance of mobile is becoming increasingly prominent, with no signs of slowing down. In fact, all signs point to the exact opposite.
Think about the beginning of your day. Does a warm cup of coffee from your nearest Starbucks come to mind? Starbucks recently partnered with Square, a successful mobile payment device. By this fall, all Starbucks stores in the US will process credit and debit transactions through this mobile device. And in the future – Starbucks customers will be able to charge their vanilla lattes simply by saying their names.
How? When a customer enters the store, the person’s mobile phone will notify Starbucks of their entrance by placing the customer’s name and photo onto the cashier’s screen. The customer will then verify their name by speaking it aloud, Starbucks will match the photo with the payment, and the mobile transaction will be complete.

Starbucks isn’t the only company that is implementing mobile: Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, JCPenney and Finish Line and are all projected to have mobile checkout capabilities by the end of next year.
Wal-Mart is currently testing their mobile shopping capabilities in one Arkansas store. Here, customers use their smartphones to scan items as they walk through the aisles. Customers then pay at a self-service kiosk without having to scan any items. Goodbye, long lines.
“This is the road to the extinction of the cash register,” said Richard Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing at Purdue University, in an interview with the Indianapolis Business Star. “We have just gotten on the highway and not yet reached 65 miles per hour, but it will happen- sooner rather than later.”
Finish Line also is testing its mobile payment system – with their mobile process differentiating slightly from Wal-Mart’s implementation. All of the store’s employees carry iPhones and can complete full mobile transactions from anywhere in the store. Customers can make a purchase from wherever they are in the store. So if the shoe fits, buy it. Right there.
Nordstrom Rack has the same technology as Finish Line, and customers are receiving better, faster service. According to the Indianapolis Business Star, Teresa Crace is one of the many pleased Nordstrom Rack customers. “I just had the purse I wanted in hand, wandering toward the cash register, and (the clerk) just stopped me and checked me right out,” said Crace. “Kind of nice, over-the-top service.”
Consumers can use their mobile devices to do more than price compare.  Some retailers are testing the ability for shoppers to order an item from their phone and have it shipped to their homes if it is out of stock in-store.


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