Guest Opinion: Don’t give me another way to pay – I’m happy with mobile

| January 3, 2018 | By

Innovation expert Bindi Karia, AKA the “queen of startups”, believes mobile has created a golden age for payment, enhancing the entire high street experience for consumers. But is taking the method of payment beyond mobile a step too far? Karia suggests that retailers should start thinking about new ways to reward customers for their loyalty rather than trying to innovate something that’s no longer broken.

I can’t remember what life was like without a smartphone. I use it for business and my personal life – but now, more than ever, I’m using it to pay for goods and services.

The world of payments is becoming increasingly noisy – and I believe that we really don’t need to keep reinventing how we make purchases.

The ease of making a payment with a tap of my mobile is great – and I like it.

However, we’re beginning to see more and more businesses take that extra step to give us another way to pay. I’m wondering whether consumers actually want this?

For example, a supermarket in the UK has recently become the first in the world to let shoppers pay for groceries using just the veins in their fingertips. Yes, that’s right.

And at one London university, customers now have the option to pay using their unique vein pattern to identify themselves!

Apparently this new way of paying has already been adopted in Japan, Poland and Turkey.

According to the firm behind the innovation, it’s all about giving customers a “frictionless” experience at the checkout point.

But don’t we already have that with our mobile phones? Nothing is wrong with how we pay for things now. We have so many options.

For me, there are two things that seals the deal when it comes to a successful retail experience: how I’m treated when shopping; and being rewarded for my loyal custom.

So, if you can incorporate something which acknowledges this at the sales point – and you throw in a loyalty scheme that doesn’t feel like work – then it’s fun for the consumer, and it builds trust and love for a brand or retailer.

Also, if you tie a great loyalty programme with rewards that your customer actually wants – a reward tailored just for them – well then that’s the icing on the cake.

Treating your customers with a special offer, just for being loyal, isn’t a new concept.

One of the first ‘gift givers’ was Elizabeth Arden – a Canadian pioneer who transformed the way the beauty industry treated women in the early and mid-20th century.

Not content with making it big in New York by creating gorgeous creams and cosmetics, she also introduced eye shadows and  “makeovers” at her Red Door Salons that made women feel beautiful – a perk that came with showing an interest in the products she was selling.

Not only did she offer this novel service, she was the first to give women a ‘gift with purchase’ to incentivise and thank customers for spending money with her.

Nowadays, it seems like gifts with purchase can be found at most beauty counters, but it was novel back then because Elizabeth Arden was adamant about putting the customer at the very heart of her business model. And that meant not only giving customers what they wanted, but also rewarding them for being loyal.

Mobile apps smooth the delivery of the loyalty model and I believe that this is what customers really want – rather than just another way to pay for goods.  Less noise and more value add, thank you very much.

As a part of this, ensuring a seamless and easy user experience on the app is crucial. According to a recent survey by Apica, 60% of respondents admit their loyalty for a brand declines if they don’t have a good digital experience with its app or website.

Customers also tend to leave a site after five seconds if it doesn’t respond – so getting that user experience for your website or app is vital to your success as a business.

In my view, there needs to be a focus on combining mobile payment methods with a seamless loyalty experience, rather than just producing another new way to pay for goods. This alone would enhance my retail experience and would encourage me to adopt the retailer-specific app.

You only have to look at the Starbucks app to see how it can work successfully. No more dog-eared paper loyalty cards taking up unnecessary room in my wallet.

All we want is a simple way to pay, we want to be rewarded for our custom and we want the whole experience to be efficient – all in a single moment.

Now *that* is the real game changer for me.

Find out more about Bindi here.