Commentary

Mobile Payments & Bypassing the Person at Checkout

During some shopping over the weekend, I again tried out some more Apple Pay opportunities.

Or more accurately, I checked around to see if there were any mobile payment opportunities and if so, how many.

It appears the mobile payments market is finally advancing to a stage where the technology supersedes the level of training needed by checkout cashiers at stores.

At Whole Foods, an early adopter of Apple Pay, I routinely pay at checkout without issue. The sales associates seem aware, but since the process is so close to a credit card swipe, either payment methods is essentially the same to them.

As my wife was making a purchase at a Lululemon store, I offered to pay with Apple Pay, primarily to see if it worked there.

I asked the sales associate.

“Do you take Apple Pay?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Can I try?”
“Sure, go ahead.”

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Seeing that the register terminal obviously did not accept Apple Pay, I swiped a credit card.

“We’re not very high tech,” said the sale associate.

And that’s the interesting part.

When Apple Pay or other payment technologies like Softcard or Google Wallet come to the Lululemons of the world, the sales associates will not necessarily need to know.

The payment technology is at the point that when a consumer knows it’s in their phone, they figure out how to use it to pay at a store.

The reality is that if mobile payments are too complicated or require training, either at the retail or the consumer level, they’re not likely to succeed.

The process of a consumer asking a checkout person if that establishment accepts a particular mobile payment method will become moot.

The consumer is more likely simply to try it and learn themselves if the store takes it.

Whether the shopper favors stores that take mobile payments over those that don’t remains to be seen.

But that decision also likely won’t be seen by the store.

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