A key pillar of the customer experience is mobile commerce.
Retailers are aiming to deal with that by moving to mobile point of sale systems and putting mobile capabilities in the hands of sales associates, based on a new study focused on overall customer engagement.
Thanks to smartphones, consumers have a constant and unlimited amount of information at their fingertips. Consumers tap into their phones to research products, compare prices, make online purchases and, to some degree, pay in stores.
One of the more significant trends is for retailers to arm sales associates with mobile point-of-sale devices that allow consumers to pay on the spot rather than heading to a checkout line.
Almost half (49%) of retailers already are using mobile solutions for sales staff, up from fewer than a third (31%) last year, according to the study by Boston Retail Partners.
The study comprised a survey of 500 top North American retailers, 76% of which have revenue of $100 million or more and 50% with revenue of $500 million or more.
Mobile POS systems are not yet a substitute for traditional fixed checkout systems, with mobile devices acting as supplements.
On the positive side, retailers are increasingly adding customer-facing mobile services, such as product information, shopping list capabilities and personalized recommendations. On the other side, there still are issues with how well those processes work.
For example, while more than half (57%) of retailers provide product information by mobile, more than a third (34%) say the approach needs improvement. Here are the mobile services already implemented by retailers, according to the BRP study:
Retailers also say some work has to be done to improve the mobile services already implemented. Here’s what retailers say has been implemented, but needs improvement:
With only 14% having implemented mobile wallet capabilities, it should be no secret why in-store mobile payments have yet to reach mass scale. But there is hope on the horizon, since 27% of retailers plan to add mobile wallet capabilities within the next 12 months.
Another issue holding mobile payments back is consumer knowledge, according to the study. Not only are many consumers unsure of how and when mobile payments can be used, but many sales associates also do not know.
Many retailers still are adopting a wait and see approach for emerging payment platforms.
Customers also don’t necessarily see the benefit. For example, fewer than a third (27%) of retailers offer mobile loyalty, hampering the ability for a consumer to link that benefit to a mobile payment.
Aside from mobile wallets not yet integrated with mobile payments, the capabilities for paying with smartphones are coming on strong.
More than half (58%) of retailers will be able to accept Apple Pay within the next 12 months. Payments by PayPal are close behind at 55%, followed by Android Pay (42%) and MasterCard PayPass (39%).
Mobile payments, at scale, remain in the future.