One session that caught our eye was entitled “The Future of Mobile Processing” presented by Peter Osberg, the head of EVO’s integrated payments group called EVO Snap*. This presentation covered what happens behind the scenes as payments cycle from Merchant to Processor to Acquirer to Channel and back to Merchant. We are always interested in customer engagement and the mobile experience, and this session provided a ton of useful information.
It was interesting to revisit the history of mobile and remember the first iPhone arrived only 10 years ago. The first app for mobile payment (the eBay iPhone app) came a year later, with Amazon also launching a mobile app in 2008.
Since then, the mobile wallet, square hardware, apple pay, P2P applications like Venmo, voice ordering and cryptocurrency have all entered the payments space.
The past few years have seen a lot of ‘catching up’ for brick-and-mortar retailers as systems have moved to the digital realm. ISO compliance specifications, gateway/middleware applications and hardware integrations (to accept EMV chip cards) have consumed time and energy. Now that these systems are largely in place, retailers can focus on building loyalty and engagement with their customers.
So, where is some of this innovation happening? This session focused mostly on retailers with an eCommerce as well as brick-and-mortar presence.
Order ahead applications are seeing an adoption by many businesses and customers. Starbucks, Chipotle and Safeway have experimented with this model and are finding success as customers pick up orders without having to wait in line.
Starbucks also incorporates a robust loyalty program related to mobile ordering, and have seen customer engagement rise by offering promotions/upsells to customers using their app. Interestingly, Starbucks just announced they are discontinuing their eCommerce store, instead focusing on unique products only available to in-person customers. Store inventory may be viewable, but items will only be available for in-store pickup. This is most likely an upcoming trend as brands try to create must-visit physical destinations for customers.
Another innovator in the mobile space is Target. As customers shop and scan products, the cartwheel functionality shows deals, coupons and related products in real time, as well as a store map where these items are located. On checkout, customers can scan a barcode which results in further savings.
For merchants, continuing to move towards an omni-channel experience is vital to business success. This means enhancing the mobile experience while customers are in-store, and reminding them to visit the store through promotions and loyalty programs. It also means aggregating data as much as possible between different systems in order to better understand customer behavior. Data aggregation and analysis is a current focus of many innovators in the space.
At Indaba, we are committed to staying at the forefront of innovation while maintaining our roots in the basics (like compliance, security, and industry best practices). DSW provides an excellent opportunity to catch up with old friends and the latest trends, and this session was a good reminder of the speed of innovation and how it impacts our clients and partners.