Question: What’s the biggest friction consumers face paying for things in a store?
Answer: Standing in line waiting to checkout.
And all of the mobile payments apps in the world that substitute a tap for a swipe (and now the dreadful dip) won’t change that. In fact, it might even make it worse since there are so few locations where consumers can transact that way that it simply introduces more uncertainty, confusion and friction.
It’s well known that mobile phones and connected devices allow consumers to do lots of things anytime and anywhere, including shop, and to do those things even standing inside a physical store. We’ve been talking about the blurring of the online and offline worlds for the last six years, We don’t think that’s much of a news flash anymore.
But in 2016, we’ll see the offline/online distinction blur even further, even faster and even more broadly.
And start to kill off the countertop checkout in the process – in some categories much, much faster and in a very material way.
And that is a news flash.
Consumers increasingly won’t use their phones to look for stuff inside or outside of a store, and then walk into them and wait patiently in line to pay for those items using a plastic card like they’ve done for the last 60 years. Nor will they routinely stand patiently in those same lines and whack their phones or their watches against a POS terminal that can enable a contactless transaction.
They’ll instead leverage cloud-based apps to checkout on their phones inside the store – and use them increasingly to pay things that they want to buy before they even step one foot inside. And establish preference for the merchants that enable that experience.
That’s exactly the experience we’re seeing take off like a rocket ship, in many other traditional and even non-traditional retail formats and in the many connected end points that the Internet of Things makes possible.
And it makes total sense. That behavior replicates the habit that consumers have honed for the last 20 years while shopping online, and for the last seven, doing so via a mobile device.
In less than a month’s time, Starbuck’s Mobile Order & Pay drove 5 million transactions a month and huge numbers of new downloads of its mobile app. Starbucks says that more than 20 percent of Starbuck’s mobile transactions are taking place this way now – and the service is less than three months old.
Domino’s Pizza now calls itself a digital company since 50 percent of its orders happen online. Pizza Hut says 40 percent of theirs do, too.
Buy online and pick up in-store (BOLPUIS) is the hottest trend in retail. Ten percent – and growing – of Target’s online sales are done that way now. But here’s where it gets really interesting.
Walmart Pay just launched its mobile payments app which essentially mimics an eCommerce transaction at checkout – linking the consumer’s app to a QR code that not only triggers payment but also applies coupons, promotions and Savings Catcher and gift card balances. The phone can be inside a consumer’s pocket or purse – it isn’t even material to “checkout” once the consumer has been checked in via the app. Target is said to be toying with a mobile app that works in somewhat the same way. Macy’s, with PayPal, rolled out a checkout option that mimics a PayPal online/in app checkout in the store, with, it says, amazing results.
Of course, countertop checkout isn’t going to die totally in 2016, or even entirely ever. Payments is a slow moving train, as we’ve seen. But in some categories, it will deliver a remarkable and dramatic shift in how consumers pay for the things they are buying from physical stores – paving the way for the retail transformation inside of the store that will happen in the years to come. The 2016 offline/online blurring trend isn’t about giving consumers an app that allows them to move seamlessly between worlds to shop but about giving them the ability pay that way, too.
Which will increasingly not be standing in a line at a counter – at least to pay.
In Nigeria, We are patiently waiting to see how the like of Paywithcapture and Payattitude will fair in 2016.