Mobile Payments: The future of retail

Jan 30, 2014
Apple Retail Store on 5th avenue in New York City. Photo Credit: Mark Sebastian (Flickr)

I love to shop, but usually, when I head to the mall or a specific store, I know what I am heading out to buy. Yes, there are the few occasions where I might be swayed by a spot of window-shopping, but on the whole, I know what I want and most of the time where I am going to get it from. Like most people these days, I’m busy and I value my free time, so I don’t want to spend hours wandering around looking for something in a multitude of stores. I tend to do a bit of research first, mainly online, but sometimes from previous visits to stores. Therefore I have an idea of what the product is, what colour I want, what store I am going to get it from, and also what the cost is. What annoys me most about a lot of retail stores these days, is that it isn’t easy to find out if something is in stock in a particular location you’re planning to visit. Also when you get there you have to battle through throngs of people to speak to someone, and then in most cases queue at the register to buy the product. I’ve been groaning for years that surely there has to be an easier way to do things. In this day and age of convenience and technology, I want my shopping experience to be quick and hassle free, whilst at the same time still receiving the level of customer service I expect from stores. That’s not much to ask is it? Well the good news is this isn’t as far fetched as it sounds.


Mobile payment apps and devices are set to take the retail industry by storm


Think of the Apple store experience for example. You won’t find a single cash register. Each of the employees has a mobile device attached to their iPhones. From here they can check the stock levels of a product, order a product if out of stock, and complete the sale and print you out a receipt. There are no queues at the register; you just deal with the sales assistant directly, and they process everything through the mobile POS app on their iPhones. It’s that simple.


iphone-app_w400The good news is that a similar mobile POS system is now available to Australian retailers with the NOMAD POS app (available free from the iTunes store). Your iPhone can then be linked up to the Leo device from CommBank in order to accept EFTPOS payments.


In the US, stores like Nordstrom have set the benchmark, and are what department stores around the world are aspiring to become. They have created an app that allows shoppers to either buy directly through the app or pick up the items in their closest store.


There are other useful apps popping up all the time too. For example, have you ever gone out to a bar, started a bar tab and then gone home only to remember that you’ve forgotten to close the tab off and get your card back? Well there is a new app out there now called CLIPP that will end that. You can create a tab on your phone that is linked to the bar or restaurants cash register. You link up your card and charge drinks directly from the app, and at the end of the night, close it off, pay and leave without the hassle of handing over your credit card and forgetting to collect it.


Mobile POS devices and apps will be the driving force in creating a seamless retail experience. Once more stores in Australia begin to accept mobile payments or create useful apps, they will be able to offer a more personalised, hassle-free service. Through building a loyal, rewarding relationship with existing customers, retailers will be able to offer them products and services they are interested in. Also by creating specific loyalty and membership rewards, retailers will be able to build their repeat business, therefore knowing theirs customers better and promoting more of what they want to buy.