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The terminal headache of providing mobile customer experience

It is now acknowledged that there is another serious factor that plays into the success or failure of mobile payments: the merchants that lie between the provider and the customer.

U.K. research, conducted by Vanson Bourne, reveals that not quite half of retailers acknowledge that mobile commerce is already affecting in-store shopping behavior and almost 90% believe that mobile commerce will be as popular as e-commerce in the future.

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That should be encouraging, but 16% of U.K. retailers do not have a mobile strategy in place and a third of those have no plans to implement one. There is a significant gap between retailers’ perception of the future and their plans to address it.

One problem is that the shift towards mobile is not a straight line. There is an explosion in the varieties of mobile channels and payment methods. According to the survey, 45% of retailers believe that native mobile applications are the most important channel, while only slightly less of the sample of IT decision makers at retailers believe mobile web is more important. Those implementing a mobile strategy will spend 21% of their budget on mobile facilitation. The question is – where to spend it?

In all, 74% of retailers aim to have a presence on iPhones, but 58% of consumers prefer to shop and browse on other platforms. This means that the budget will be spread thinly and, without even getting to the payment piece, merchants are having to make bets on multiple platforms, while integrating these channels into an overall experience.

The consumers surveyed expressed a clear preference for using a mobile to help them make decisions, with 60% claiming to use the mobile internet to make decisions in-store. Some large retailers are thought to be considering blocking access to mobiles in their stores.

When it comes to payments, retailers are again faced with too many choices. Only 57% of those surveyed are considering NFC as part of their strategy, citing competitive pressures as the reason to adopt. Meanwhile 25% of customers want to use their mobiles to pay now, believing them to be more convenient than other methods, but probably less secure. Over half of the consumers sampled were not aware, specifically, of NFC.

For retailers to take the expensive risk of implementing NFC terminals, possibly through fear of being left behind, the risk is therefore increased. If customers want to pay with mobiles and something ‘new’ comes along, or PayPal’s mobile offering continues to take off, then customers will go with ‘mobile’ not ‘NFC’ and merchants will be left holding the terminal.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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