By Michael Gavin
ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) must keep pace with the latest payment technologies and trends to be seen as knowledgeable experts in the field. Exploring the advantages of mobile payments will provide valuable selling points to employ during visits with your customers, which can boost your sales and help keep your merchants ahead of their competition.
From requesting taxis to tracking flights to comparing prices, consumers rely on smartphones for several day-to-day tasks. As smartphone technology quickly advanced, mobile payment options were introduced and consumers started making purchases with smartphones. Although mobile payments have been around for some time, they have just recently started to take off due to innovative technologies that allow for more seamless payment capabilities.
As more consumers and businesses capitalize on mobile payments, the traditional wallet will become a thing of the past. According to IDC, by 2017, 1.5 billion smartphones will be in use globally. Also, a study by Forrester Research – cited in "Connecting with Customers: The Future of Mobile Payments," by Carin van Burren, and published Aug. 13, 2013, in Forbes magazine Aug. 13, 2013 – predicted that by the end of 2017, mobile users in the United States will spend $90 billion via mobile payments. Businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, are embracing mobile payments. Competitors in the space offering new, more affordable options include LevelUp, PayPal and Square, to name a few. Even Amazon has entered the game. Proliferating mobile payment solutions make it easy for businesses to accept payments through a tap-and-go system, a near field communication reader, or a virtual wallet that stores credit card information.
Mobile payments benefit both consumers and businesses. With this payment option, businesses are able to speed up the checkout process and capture the business of impulse buyers who may have been less apt to buy something if a traditional transaction were required. They allow customers to seamlessly purchase products or services without having to physically hand over cash or swipe a card. Consumers are eager for quick, in-and-out shopping experiences. This is exactly what mobile payments provide.
By using mobile payments, consumers no longer have to assume the security risks associated with cash or worry whether they have enough cash in their bulky physical wallets. Similarly for businesses, especially for small businesses, mobile payments reduce theft risks of having cash on hand.
Most mobile payment applications can integrate loyalty programs. Consumers simply register for the business' loyalty program and earn points, credits or rewards for every purchase. The solutions allow consumers to view their payment history, special offers and rewards. This means customers no longer need to keep track of punch cards – which are often forgotten or lost – or carry around key-tag cards. Loyalty card information with points and credits can be stored in the application, making it easily accessible. In addition, customers are more likely to return when loyalty rewards are easily accessible via smartphone. This increases retention and revenue.
Not only do mobile payments capture customers' payment data, but they also allow businesses to automate processes to gain insight into consumer behavior and track inventory. Small businesses can significantly benefit from this service, as many of them struggle with tracking inventory and do not have accurate data on consumer buying habits.
By studying the reporting received from mobile payment technologies, small businesses can identify key trends they can act on to improve their businesses. For instance, a cafè may find out it sells the most breakfast sandwiches on Saturday mornings and the most large coffees on Monday mornings. This allows restaurant owners to plan their inventory accordingly, which leads to cost-savings and improved customer service. (More insights on how mobile payment platforms can enhance loyalty and provide insight into customer behavior can be found in "5 Major Benefits of Mobile Payments" by Jennifer Gregory, published on the American Express OPEN Forum Feb. 13, 2014.)
Adopting mobile payments can also help distinguish businesses from their competition. Having a branded mobile application with the flexibility of mobile payments and a loyalty program will allow businesses to get ahead by increasing customer loyalty and revenue. Since mobile payments are still in the early-adoption phase, small businesses embracing them early on will stand out from their competitors. Customers will appreciate merchants who invest in innovative technology that will enable them to pay via smartphone.
Now is the time for small businesses to get on board. In the past, mobile payments may have seemed out of reach for small businesses; now numerous, more affordable choices exist. If you are an MLS, inform your customers of the benefits they are missing out on, and encourage them to adopt mobile payments today.
As Merchant Warehouse Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales, as well as leadership of all sales activities within the company's agent channel. He has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. Merchant Warehouse's Genius Customer Engagement Platform is a single, intuitive platform that integrates every transaction technology, loyalty program and more. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the company, visit http://merchantwarehouse.com.
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