The Drum spoke to Claire Maslen, senior manager – market development, O2 Money, to establish her views on how NFC and other mobile technologies will change the shopping experience.
What role will mobile play in the future of retail?
Mobile will become a central feature of retail in the future. We are already seeing people using smartphones in many different steps of the purchasing process, whether that's price comparison, or actual purchasing, - and this is only going to increase. What role will near field communications play? Do you think that retailers are proving to be responsive or do you think some are struggling to invest in this?
NFC is a crucial asset in the mobile shopping experience, and the growth of payment points in retail outlets is increasing every day. However, infrastructure roll-out on the retail side is one of the biggest factors in consumer awareness of NFC services. Are there any retailers that have implemented NFC particularly well so far? Or is it too early to tell of its impact in the UK?
We’re seeing a ramp up of infrastructure implementation in the high street, which is great. Retailers are seeing the benefits of faster transaction times and operational efficiencies when it comes to cash reconciliation. The role out at McDonald's is definitely sighted as an exemplar. McDonald's took the decision to roll out across their entire base and make sure the terminals were contactless ‘ready’ (as opposed to a till operator having to select contactless as an option when taking a transaction). They also focused heavily on staff training. All leading to a great customer experience.What mobile technologies are we likely to see utilised more by retailers? What scope is there for retailers to harness these in their mobile strategies?
We’ve seen fantastic results through the O2 Media business with campaigns such as O2 More (preference based marketing), You are Here (location based marketing) and Priority Moments (O2’s number 1 loyalty proposition), so we know customers and brands are starting to welcome new approaches to customer contact. As confidence increases and both consumers and businesses really see the benefits of using mobile technology to deliver value, more complex offerings are bound to be developed. But you have to start somewhere and irrespective of how complex the technology may be in the background, it has to be consistent and simple for the end user.Will retailers' use of mobile technologies mainly be as an alternative to brick and mortar stores, or is it likely to be used to complement the traditional retail experience?
From our experience with retailers, they all welcome a multi-channel experience. And as a customer, why can’t I research products in the high street and then go home and order them for delivery – or vice versa. In business we’ve been talking about seamless connectivity and seamless experiences for years ... why as a consumer should my experience vary dramatically from high street to online to mobile?What is the biggest barrier to proximity (contactless) payments?
Three key factors that affect the uptake are:
How will mobile payments develop in the coming year?
- The availability of the appropriate handsets and technology to consumers
- The development and roll-out of the retail infrastructure. (Whether that is physical pay points for NFC services or virtual mobile shopping experiences)
- Change of consumer behaviour to put more of their buying experience through a mobile platform
This year will be the first true year of mainstream consumer use of mobile payments. For the first time, customers will have the technology available to them to make the majority of their regular 'payments' in a mobile form, whether that's peer to peer, in a shopping environment, or for personal finance management.Credit card phone image via Shutterstock