For the first merchants to adopt the Isis mobile wallet, the loyalty and data opportunities that it presents are of far greater value than the contactless payment capabilities it provides.
Maverik, a gas station and convenience store chain with 250 locations across 10 western states, says collecting payments from credit cards at the pump isn't a problem. But getting consumers to use their loyalty cards, particularly for transactions inside stores, is a major challenge.
When asked if they have a loyalty card, some consumers say no, even if they have one. But when reminded about the savings they get from the program, they eventually pull the loyalty card out of their wallets, says Ernie Harker, Maverik's executive director of marketing. "Working behind the teller at a convenience store opened my eyes," he says.
Maverik, which accepts the Isis mobile wallet, shared its experience in a Jan. 13 panel discussion about Isis at the National Retail Federation's 103rd annual convention and expo in New York City.
Isis combines the payment transaction and loyalty program acceptance into one interaction, making it more likely that consumers will use the loyalty program for all their purchases, Harker says.
"In order for that tool to work, I need to get that data from them," Harker said of the loyalty program. "I need to make the transaction ubiquitous."
Isis is a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. It launched nationwide in November following pilots in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas.
Megaplex Theatres, a regional movie theater chain in Utah and Nevada, uses the Isis wallet's couponing functions to provide offers designed to drive business during nonpeak times and seasons. And the security features of the app, which requires a PIN to make purchases, also improves customer service, says Nathan Rigby, the chain's director of marketing and business development.
"On a consumer level, I can't tell you how many wallets get left in our theaters and how many customers come to us up in arms because they're concerned about identity theft," he says. "That security measure is such a great feature for our movie guests."
Jamba Juice, which also offers mobile payments through partnerships with PayPal and Google Wallet, sees value in improving speed of service with the apps. Noting that most consumers use their phones as a diversion while they're waiting for their orders, "this technology really resonates well with our consumers," says Robert Notte, Jamba Juices chief technology officer. He adds the smoothie restaurant is working to develop order and pay ahead functionality for the Isis wallet, like it has on the PayPal mobile app.
Still, training is a crucial part of supporting mobile wallet acceptance, since first-time users are often skeptical of the new technology. Jamba Juice uses employee training videos, consumer-facing handouts and customer service representatives that respond to issues that come directly to the retailer and through social media.
"Not only are we asking team members how to process transactions behind the [point of sale], we're asking them to be Isis wallet experts," Notte says. "The challenge was there to not only get them to understand how to use the POS system, but also how to make the Isis wallet work."
At the Whole Foods locations in Salt Lake City that participated in the Isis pilot, the mobile wallet served as an extension of the grocer's in-store marketing. The Isis wallet lets Whole Foods build displays that consumers can interact with by tapping their phones and receive detailed information about a product or its manufacturer.
"It's one more avenue to drive customer loyalty and brand awareness, and create an authentic storytelling experience with the device that people use every single day," says Lydia Martinez, a Whole Foods store marketing specialist.
In addition, in-store coupons and offers help drive additional sales, Martinez says. The store has experimented with offering free cups of coffee to Isis users who tap their phone at the register.
"Because you feel like you got a deal, you're going to put two or three more items into your basket right on the spot," Martinez says.