Mobile payments are retail's new frontier

The conversation about mobile has been centered around the mobile user experience, apps and engagement. But mobile payments are shaping up to be the next frontier.

The mobile payment market is estimated to reach $142 billion by 2019, according to Forrester research. However, there are few solutions currently deployed by retailers that make mobile payments easy for shoppers.

According to a new report by PriceWaterhouseCooper, mobile payments must move beyond the transaction and companies will need to consider mobile payments as an opportunity to establish digital engagement with customers.
While remote payments remain the majority of those made via mobile devices, peer-to-peer payments and in-store acceptance are expected to experience the most incremental growth in the coming years, in spite of some reports that shoppers are less interested in mobile payments than we think.

"It remains difficult for merchants who want to save money and better serve customers to figure out the best plan for participating in this increasingly important arena," noted the PwC report. "While international payment options have established a foothold in regions where payment alternatives were slim, the challenge in the U.S. and other developed countries is to go beyond a convenient and secure payments solution to offer a broader, more satisfying customer experience—one that encompasses a much larger value chain that could involve loyalty rewards, discounts, and other incentives and perhaps even perks and experiences no one has considered yet."

But the question for retailers is not just which type of mobile payment program to accept, but how long before they can be accepted, said Rob Garf, VP of strategy and insights, Demandware. Garf spoke to FierceMobileRetail during Demandware's user conference in Las Vegas this week.

"When it comes to mobile, it's not a question of which payments to offer," he said. "It's about the whole proliferation of payments."

It's also about the payment process, the funnel, and how quickly shoppers can move through that process.

For brands such as Dogeared, making that payment process easier before the 2015 holiday season is a must, according to Ashley Walkley, Dogeared's customer experience director of brand and multi-channel marketing. Today, a customer that gets through the checkout on the site "deserves a medal," she said. By fall, that will have changed as Dogeared's entire mobile site undergoes a transformation.

"We believe that the mobile payment solutions market must move beyond the transaction," noted the PwC report. "The successful apps thus far only represent high-frequency customer relationships. The mobile payment scenario for casual, infrequent transactions still remains unsolved. It's not the mobile-payment technology, per se; it's the opportunity to establish digital engagement with customers."

"Mobile will set us apart. We will see tremendous growth," Walkley said.

There are no clear winners in the mobile payment solutions landscape yet, and no clear recipes for success, according to the report. Still, retailers that aren't moving quickly to resolve mobile payment issues for shoppers and create more easily navigable mobile solutions, including payments, won't just lose out come holiday season, they may lose the customer, period.

For more:
-See this PwC report

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