Because consumers are using mobile devices to check product prices or seek cheaper prices online, merchants need plans in place to move consumers to fast checkout and payment inside stores, says Peter Lin, program manager for mobile commerce for Sears Holdings Corp.
The practice of using a store just to browse is common enough that retailers call it "showrooming," and they typically consider it a threat. But the practice can also be an opportunity for retailers that embrace the practice by labeling products with QR codes. This allows retailers some control over the product information consumers see on their phones — and presents an opportunity to close the sale, Lin said at the annual Ramp Mobile Retail Services Conference this week in Chicago.
"We also must support contactless payment, with no keying of payment card numbers," Lin says.
As self-service checkout becomes more prominent in a mobile age, merchants also need scanners, printers and larger touch-screen displays to help consumers complete the checkout process.
Merchants have to monitor whether the "bring your own device" trend actually improves an in-store experience, Lin says.
"If consumers are looking at their devices, are they really looking at the product shelves in the aisles and at self-serve checkout?" Lin asks.
Merchants would also be wise to connect online or mobile ads to a system that rewards consumers for making purchases in stores, says Brett Twomey, senior manager of strategic partnerships for San Francisco-based TrialPay.
TrialPay established relationships with many online and social media traffic sources, like Facebook, Twitter and Fandango. It also works with Visa, MasterCard and First Data to help retailers drive sales to their brick-and-mortar locations.
"For example, you can earn movie tickets if you spend $60 at The Gap," Twomey says.
TrialPay provides an icon on a merchant's mobile ad that consumers can click to earn a reward. After clicking the icon, a hosted landing page appears, asking the consumer to provide payment card details for future use.
"Once the consumer is registered, they can qualify for the reward with one click," Twomey says. If the reward calls for a $60 purchase at a specific retail location, the card brand alerts TrialPay when that purchase is made, and TrialPay immediately sends the digital reward to the consumer's phone.
At this point in the mobile technology age, Lin says nearly every retailer realizes it is vital to reach customers through multiple channels.
Consumers will check shopping lists on mobile devices, or receive incentives from merchants to bring friends to the store for group discounts, Lin says.
But the channels have to be coordinated in a way to close the sale with a payment. And more of those payments through a mobile device will be contactless, he adds.