Thanks to our smartphones and the mobile internet, we live in a world that is more connected than ever before. Not a day goes by when we don’t check our messages or connect with someone via our devices. With the introduction of mobile payments, our smartphones are becoming more than just devices to communicate with each other. Mobile payments not only allows customers to pay for various goods and services with the payment system of choice, but it also enables merchants to accept these new methods of payments, and even allows merchants to take their business to their customers, no longer tied down to a brick and mortar location, or a central wrap stand.
Smartphones make life easier for both merchants and consumers. For example, consumers can generate door-to-door directions to an unfamiliar location at a moment’s notice, look up addresses at the last minute, compare prices online while in the store, and book restaurant and hotel reservations. They can even pay for various goods and services with Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay – all it takes is uploading a credit or debit card of choice to the payment system, and any payments made via the app will go to the corresponding card. This simple, yet convenient system is quickly becoming a consumer habit, with mobile payments growing exponentially over the next few years. Recent research from TrendForce states consumers worldwide will use their mobile phones to spend $620 billion on mobile transactions in 2016, with that number increasing to $1.08 trillion by 2019 – just three years from now.
These numbers are just too large for merchants of all sizes to ignore. Mobile payments are no longer a novelty – as the numbers show, mobile payments must become a key aspect in the payments acceptance mix for your business. Your customers will appreciate easy and trustworthy transactions, able to make from whatever device they’re using, and you will appreciate the advantage mobile payments give you over competitors who haven’t yet got on board with the newest ways to pay.
Below are some suggestions to successfully integrate mobile payments into your marketing strategy and create the ultimate mobile payments mix:
Think mobile. Even before you determine how your customers prefer to pay, you need to be thinking mobile. Mobile capabilities are present at every point through a consumer lifecycle, and one way to optimize mobile payments is to ensure that the entire lifecycle, from product research through purchase, is mobile-capable. This should include your website – if it does not work well on mobile devices, customers will not use it to make purchases. Any social media promotions need to be rather light on content, because customers do not want to sift through a lot of information on a mobile site. Keep these points in mind when developing a mobile strategy for your business.
Find out how your customers want to pay. First and foremost, you need to make sure your payment mix matches how your customers want to pay. Pay close attention to which methods of payment your customers are using – do they use credit or debit cards, are they asking about NFC payments, or are they still using good old reliable cash? These observational insights will help you understand how your customers prefer to pay so you can ensure you are prepared to accept those methods. Nothing is worse for a customer than approaching a wrap stand to pay for a carefully chosen purchase only to be told the merchant does not accept the customer’s method of payment.
Find out which payment methods you want to accept. Customer preference is a priority, but you, as a merchant, need to determine which payment methods will work best for your business, as well as your customers. All payment methods have advantages and disadvantages, so determining which methods would benefit your business and your customers the most while not causing undue aggravation or cost too much money is key.
Make it simple – and desirable. One of the issues with the new embedded-chip EMV credit cards is the processing time takes longer than that of traditional credit cards. This is due to the necessity of the EMV card to remain in the POS for the duration of the transaction, unlike traditional magstripe credit cards, which work with a quick swipe at the end of the transaction. Mobile payments solve that need for speed at the checkout – a quick tap on the terminal is all it takes to pay with a smartphone. Merchants can exploit this “tap and go” aspect by making the mobile payment function more attractive to customers. A separate checkout kiosk just for mobile or bonus points for paying with a smartphone can help to make this method popular with your customers, develop customer loyalty and even draw more customers in to your establishment.
Don’t forget to publicize. Now that you accept mobile payments, you want to get the word out. Of course, your customers who use mobile payments will likely tell their friends, but it’s always a good idea to do a little self-promotion. Posters, information on your website or in an email newsletter, and social media posts are all great ways to publicize your acceptance of mobile payments. Offering customers a discount on their first mobile-paid purchase or even a punchcard for a free item after accumulating a certain number of mobile purchases (10 or 12 is always a good choice) may also be an option. An additional consideration is to draft a press release about your mobile payments acceptance and sending it to small local papers who are always looking for interesting news items about local businesses. They may even decide to do an advertorial on your business!