As marketers, we scratch our heads almost daily about how to define and build up that most intangible of brand assets – loyalty. Most brands have well-developed plans in CRM, generally
powered by email. Many have a firm calendar of promotions to keep bring people back in. The more advanced are working on multi-dimensional data solutions or branded utilities.
But one area that is almost always overlooked is the area of payments. Naturally, the actual moment you take money from the customer is the last place you would look to
emphasize, but here are two reasons why you should:
- Firstly, experience matters – many who are in the Millennial generation and younger prefer to buy a cool experience
over a cool product. By eliminating tricky or boring elements from your customer experience, you immediately develop a positive brand trait.
- Secondly, the art of creating a great customer
experience is to try to transform the most painful part of the process. Smoothing over payment is going to transform the curse of the abandoned cart both on- and offline.
Mobile is the natural next evolution of payment – we’re all now walking about with potentially secure and seamless transaction devices in our hands, and the success
of Square on the payment receiving side of the equation has shown how capable these devices are, not to mention recent announcements from Facebook and Amazon showing their intentions in the space.
Yet mobile payments have failed to take off universally due to an undignified wrangle between Apple, the banks, the network carriers and the handset manufacturers that
shows no sign of abating. The fact is that we could have all been paying for everything on mobile years ago had Apple agreed to line up with the rest of the industry and support the NFC tap-to-pay
However, the failure to move forward has created new opportunities for brands to innovate. Starbucks is the poster child for using a bespoke payment
system to cement their relationship with their customers. By fusing their own mobile payments into their CRM and purchasing journey, they have been able to grow the number of direct relationships they
have with their customers through their app, and provide a unique seamless experience in-store.
This first-rate experience has driven their mobile revenue to over
$1 billion (as estimated by Business Insider Intelligence), which
would account for approximately 10% of Starbucks’ revenue. And of course, the consent for messaging and consumer data the scheme delivers are priceless to the business.
While not every brand benefits from Starbucks’ scale and reach, there are innovative payment technologies emerging everywhere: Apple’s Passbook can still be built
into many apps, Samsung are experimenting with smartwatch payments, and Beacon is offering a wealth of opportunities.
So if your brand or retail estate needs to
develop its chops in customer experience, and acquire a wealth of customer data and one-to-one relationships, maybe a slick and modern payment process should be moving up to the front of your
considerations for 2015.