The customer experience in the retail sector is constantly evolving. Over recent years we’ve seen many changes in the way customers pay for their goods – from chip and pin to self check-out and contactless payments. All of these developments have played their part in evolving the customer experience, from reducing waiting times to improving convenience.
However, the latest development in payment technology, mobile payments, is proving to be the most revolutionary method to date. This method of payment allows customers to pay for items without even reaching for their purse or wallet; instead, their smartphone is all that is required. And some revolutionary apps are even letting customers pay on their phone without the need to visit a conventional checkout, literally allowing them to scan an item with their smartphone and pay through the same medium without having to locate and queue at a till, meaning that they can make their purchase from anywhere in the store and leave the store straight away.
Apart from creating a way for retailers to stay ahead of the curve, how are mobile payments revolutionising the customer experience?
They Could be Bringing Customers Back to the High Street
For years, the high street has been struggling to battle e-commerce. The ease of purchasing an item with a click of the mouse has proven problematic for brick and mortar retail, and industry leaders have been working tirelessly to find ways to make the in-store experience compete with the offerings of e-commerce.
The rise of mobile payments is changing the way a customer shops, and therefore changing the way the customer’s time is spent in the store. Knowing that an item can be purchased with the tap of a debit card or even by scanning the barcode with their own smartphone can be a real perk in drawing the customer back to the high street and updating the traditional shopping experience. The pleasure and practicality of visiting a store and being able to see first-hand the item you want to purchase is something that purchasing online cannot replicate. By providing a solution for customers to retain the inherent qualities of traditional physical retail but without the hassle of traditional payment methods, mobile payments could genuinely help the high street get its spark back.
Perhaps the biggest benefit in the customers’ mind when it comes to the changes mobile payments are bringing about is the elimination of queues. When shoppers are able to pay for an item on their smartphone without visiting a conventional till, it reduces the friction in their in-store experience because they don’t have to concern themselves with waiting in a queue to complete their purchase.
Having the freedom to visit a store, purchase their chosen items and then leave straight away is a huge development for customers. For busy shoppers who know what they want to purchase and don’t have the time or the inclination to wait in a queue, mobile payments are truly the way forward and deliver a great alternative to purchasing online.
Improving the Service Customers Receive
If the traditional till can be eliminated, what does this mean for store employees and the level of service they can offer customers? When mobile payments are the preferred method, employees can be free to walk the store floor and be more involved and engaged with customers. Without being tethered to the checkout, store employees can enhance the customer experience, as they are more available to answer questions, provide demonstrations and recommendations and interact on a more personal level.
In many instances, employees can make or break the experience of a customer. An associate who is engaging and offers excellent service is going to vastly improve the customer journey, and the flexibility of mobile payments can allow this by giving employees the time and opportunity to up the level of service they offer.
What’s more, the in-store floorspace that can be saved by eliminating tills is hugely valuable for retailers; it can be used for new product launches, demonstration areas and greater stockholding space – all of which help the retailer in improving the brick and mortar customer experience.
David Grenham is VP Marketing for MishiPay, an international mobile payment solution provider.