As I walk through the doors into Panera on an almost-daily basis lately, I have two thoughts:
1. I'm glad my "office" space only costs as much as a yummy Thai Chicken Salad
2. Oh, they have Apple Pay. I wonder what that's like?
Since I'm an Android gal, I don't exactly know. Sure, I could go with Google Wallet, but I really haven't been interested enough to get the ball rolling. Given my line of work in the social media marketing realm the thought has once or twice surfaced, "Maybe I should check these things out..." But then I get distracted by thoughts of a Chocolate Pastry and that's the end of it.
Why don't I care more?
I don't need to.
I've got a Paypal debit card and a Panera loyalty card, so what am I missing? A few seconds' worth of "easier?"
And that's one of the biggest barriers to the whole mobile pay thing right now. For many (probably most) of us, what we have is more than good enough.
Hold Out and Miss Out
Mobile pay is the way of the future, and the future is now. Starbucks has already proven the store-specific model, and now Apple is hot on their heels hoping to prove the merits of a broader mobile payment app. Starbucks reigns supreme right now, but as consumers adopt the very idea of mobile pay in general, will they want a bunch of store-specific apps clogging up their devices?
At the same time, something like Apple Pay might appeal to iPhone users ready to try the next big thing, but given the hold-outs (like Wal-Mart), it's less appealing to retailers hoping for the oh-so-important data available if they go the Starbucks route and create their own mobile payment apps to tie into their loyalty programs.
Of note, the Apple Pay website notes Starbucks as one of their "coming soon" retailers. The way these two entities collaborate could pave the way for others to follow.
But as Wired's Marcus Wohlson points out, "Customers don't care about-and might be creeped out by-the fact that store-specific mobile payments like Starbucks are a win for retailers because they make shopper data easier to harvest." True dat. Like retailers, consumers are in it for themselves, but they have a different agenda.
If You Build It, They Will Come - But It Will Take Some Cajoling
Consumers can be a cagey bunch. As much as we want convenience, and great deals, we don't want to be bothered or pitched at, and we don't want to put our personal information at risk - ever.
Sure, we got over our initial concerns about banking online, etc., and we couldn't live without it now; but we also know people who have been victims of identity theft, and we've found ourselves the recipients of mass emails from Target and Home Depot apologizing about data breaches and recommending we change our passwords.
We like technology by and large, but we're skittish about privacy, and with good reason.
Which makes your job that much harder if you're a retailer hoping to sign us to your mobile pay platform. A new report from data solutions company Punchtab offers some hints though, and they're pretty much common sense. Here's how consumers like things:
· FAST - We're all super busy, and the whole point of technology is to make our lives easier. Your app better make checking out a study in speed.
· EASY - Anyone who's ever taken five tries to get a QR code to scan (if it even did) can relate to the trepidation many feel here. It better be easy.
· SECURE - Privacy concerns are what trip consumers up the most when considering mobile pay (62% cite it as their top reason for not using mobile pay). One misstep early in the game for any company and it's gonna be a long while before we trust again.
· WORTHWHILE - Especially for store-specific apps. Why are you better than a generic option? Consumers want special deals and coupons, and the ability to see available loyalty rewards as part of a store-specific app.
The bottom line: most consumers aren't likely to be swayed away from the familiar and trusted payment methods they already use (31% just don't see the need) unless retailers create meaningful value to entice us to take the leap.
Here's Why We're Still Nervous
Even then, we're leery. Because while the perks above certainly will make any mobile app comprising all of them stand out above the rest, there's no perk so good it completely eases our fears about the potential dangers.
If the biggest hesitation is data security, how do retailers overcome that? You've got to use your early adopters to spread the word, give us integrated features we can't say not to, and continue to offer a secure platform. Consumers will come around, just like we have with everything else that's ever come down the pike.
But when we do you want us using your app, not someone else's. So be sure it's got everything we want, and is secure as a steel trap.
Consumers, are you already using mobile pay? What do you love/hate about it? Do you want one all-encompassing app, or individual store apps, and why?
IMAGE CREDIT: Kim Niemi