Opportunities abound in mobile payments
Jun 10, 2013 Philip Burgess
With the right strategies in place, companies can use emerging technologies to drive better bottom lines and increase customer engagement. While there are many opportunities cropping up for merchants to integrate advanced solutions in recent years, mobile payments have become one of the most important areas for retailers to pay attention to if they want to remain competitive. After all, as more businesses harness the power of innovative transaction methods, consumers will come to expect these offerings, and only those firms meeting the public's needs will prosper.
The time is now
According to the recent InformationWeek and Mobile Commerce World survey, many companies are beginning to catch on to the fact that supporting mobile shoppers is no longer an option. Of nearly 900 respondents, 71 percent said that having an mcommerce plan is "very" or "extremely" important to their enterprise, reflecting the place of privilege that devices such as smartphones and tablets have assumed in the retail world. The news provider noted that a report from digital marketing analyst eMarketer found that United States retail mcommerce sales skyrocketed in 2012, growing by 81 percent and making up 11 percent of all ecommerce purchases in the nation. This year, the research firm expects that mcommerce will continue to become more common, rising another 15 percent.
However, the InformationWeek and Mobile Commerce World study noted that just because so many indicators show mobile payments and shopping are big players in the retail world doesn't mean business leaders have jumped on board yet. One-third of respondents said they will be implementing a "comprehensive" mcommerce strategy in the next year, and only 26 percent claimed to already have one in place.
Considering how many consumers have cellphones and how much time they spend using them, organizations that haven't leveraged mobile solutions yet should do so soon to experience the potential benefits. A study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 88 percent of American adults own one of these gadgets, and more than half - 55 percent - use the devices to go online. Even more importantly, an overall 17 percent of all adult cellphone owners use these technologies as the primary way they access the Internet.
But why do people use their phones for browsing? Pew noted that among those respondents who use the Internet mostly via their smartphones, 18 percent claimed that they do so because these tools better suit their usage habits, making their experiences simpler. This may be one area that retailers should pay attention to - by launching apps that are highly easy to use, they may be able to appeal to the segment of the population that is already aiming to streamline their online experience through smartphones.
Of course, while it is critical for businesses to recognize the importance of mobile payments and deploy these solutions, they can't rush into these transitions hastily. When it comes to customers' financial information, it is always important to put security first, as missteps can result in damage to their consumer credit reports. When incidents like this arise, it can cause people to stop purchasing a company's products and services, so not only is it good for firms to prioritize safety for the sake of their patrons, but it helps their bottom lines as well.
It is critical that developers and retailers see the value in secure mobile payment solutions. Working together, they can bring consumers buying options that are highly convenient and drive engagement. Before entering into a partnership and launching an app, businesses should consider working only with vetted providers.