Mobile wallets and use of mobile apps are expected to grow in 2020 as customers set expectations with retailers.
“One of our recent customer surveys indicated that there is still a large gap in checkout expectations across consumer age brackets,” said Perry Kramer, managing partner at consulting firm Retail Consulting Partners. Of customers ages 18-37, 65% said a mobile app or wallet for checkout would influence the store they shopped at, while only 33% for those ages 37 and older agreed.
Kramer noted retailers today are investing in new payment technologies that support contactless payments. “Specific to the c-store space, we have seen a slower investment in the development of mobile wallets and mobile apps that support payments,” he said. “This can often result in a disjointed experience if the c-store has a franchise like a Dunkin’ Donuts in it that has a powerful mobile wallet that speeds checkout, and then that same customer has to stand in line at the c-store register under the same four walls and have a slower legacy experience.”
In 2020, Retail Consulting Partners sees increased movement toward self-service features, including order-ahead online or in-app, or via in-store kiosks.
The rise of frictionless checkout is expected to be significant across retail channels. C-stores have higher-than-average in-store percentage of cash sales, Kramer noted, which makes it more challenging to achieve a return on investment on improvements made to the payment experience in a reasonable time. “We are seeing retailers that have any type of order-ahead services or loyalty rewards being the earlier adopter of mobile wallets and mobile apps that support payments.”
Mike Fogarty, owner of Denver-based Choice Market, with two locations and two more set to open this year in Colorado, is embarking on a full digital transformation of the c-store chain’s app, e-commerce website and in-store kiosk that will feature a unified omnichannel experience, launching with the opening of its third location this spring. “In our current stores, we do online ordering — you’re able to order ahead, you’re able to order delivery, but it’s all different systems and it’s very disparate. We want one unified customer experience,” Fogarty said.
As a part of this omnichannel experience, Choice Market has partnered with a strategic tech partner to help guide its path toward incorporating such technologies as vending machines, unattended micro markets and even “full-vision self-checkout.”
“With frictionless, as people know, it’s quite costly, and you just have to make sure it’s a good fit,” Fogarty said, adding, for Choice, it offers problem-solving capabilities because many of its products — from produce to bagels and coffee — don’t have barcodes. Allowing customers to check-in and let cameras track the rest would be convenient, he said.