As the adoption of smartphones increases, consumers are becoming comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to buy goods, transfer money and perform many different kinds of financial transactions.
A new study by comScore reports 80% of U.S. smartphone owners accessed mobile commerce sites and apps in July (85.9 million total).
According to Google’s Our Mobile Planet: United States, penetration is currently 44% of the U.S. population, and 66% access the Internet daily.
Retailers can engage these always-connected consumers by adopting a mobile strategy that includes having an optimized mobile storefront and a mobile payment system.
Optimized Mobile Storefronts
Because mobile devices have changed consumer behavior, especially the way consumers shop, having an optimized mobile storefront becomes critical for engaging consumers across the many different paths to purchase. We explained the benefits of mobile storefronts in How To Boost In-Store Traffic & Sales By Optimizing Your Mobile Storefront For Local SEO.
In addition to optimizing for local search, it is also necessary to be prepared for mobile payments. Pew Internet recently reported the following:
- Over one-third of smartphone owners have performed online banking duties such as paying bills or checking their balance
- 46% of app users have purchased an app for a mobile device.2 One in every ten Americans has used a cell phone to make a charitable contribution by text message
- One in every ten Americans has used a cell phone to make a charitable contribution by text message
- 38% of smartphone owners have used their devices to buy online music, e-books, movies, clothing, accessories, tickets and daily deal items
Mobile Payment Solutions
Because of the above trends and the potential for lucrative profits, financial services and technology firms have been working on infrastructure and tools for safe, reliable mobile purchasing. For instance, mobile payments service provider Square recently revealed it is processing $8 billion in payments on an annual basis.
There are a variety of forms in mobile payment and transaction solutions. Some allow merchants to accept on-the-go credit card payments from customers using a special card reader that plugs into a smartphone or tablet.
Others facilitate direct person-to-person financial transfers using mobile devices, either by physically touching phones or by exchanging electronic credentials like phone numbers or email addresses.
Google Wallet, introduced last year, is based on near-field communication (NFC) technology and allows users to store payment information in the cloud while paying for goods at participating retailers by tapping their phone at the point of purchase.
Since then, many other payment solutions have launched. In fact, daily deal operator Groupon just announced Groupon Payments, a mobile payments service that enables businesses to accept credit and debit cards using an iPhone or iPod Touch.
Recent research from Javelin Strategy & Research indicates Visa and PayPal are consumers’ preferred mobile wallet providers, while mobile network operators Verizon and AT&T (Isis wallet) and Apple, are close behind. According to the report, consumers look for trust, innovation, and privacy in a valued mobile wallet provider.
Advantages Of Mobile Wallet Systems
Proponents believe mobile wallet systems have a number of advantages over cash and credit cards, saying the new systems are more convenient for consumers because they need only carry a single all-purpose device rather than multiple forms of paper and plastic.
Because these systems are location-aware and can track users’ shopping and purchasing behavior in real time, mobile wallet systems can offer advanced “personal shopper” services like recommendations and special deals based on one’s location and past purchase history, as well as improved loyalty programs and more targeted promotions from vendors (“buy two get one free”) with the card stored in the mobile cloud.
Are Mobile Payment Systems Safe?
There are a number of factors that have limited the widespread adoption of mobile payments so far:
- Not everyone has a smartphone
- Credit card companies aren’t about to move away from an extremely profitable system
- Concerns over hackers gaming NFC
- The lack of interoperability of mobile finance systems due to the number of different platforms being developed and implemented
- Many consumers may not be comfortable storing all their financial details in the cloud
Evaluating Mobile Payment Systems
PC World recently reviewed four payment systems: PayAnywhere, Intuit GoPayment, Square Card Reader and VeriPhone SAIL. The least expensive is PayAnywhere, which offers a pay-as-you-go fee of 2.69 percent per swipe. Intuit’s GoPayment and VeriFone’s SAIL come next with fees of 2.7 percent per transaction. Square’s 2.75 percent fee is the highest of the four.
If your business is processing over $1300 in payments every month, you might be better off with one of the subscription plans that combine a monthly fee with a lower per-swipe rate: GoPayment is $13 a month with a swipe fee of 1.7 percent, and SAIL is $10 a month with a swipe fee of 1.95 percent.
However, if you need to accept and track cash as well as credit card payments, GoPayment won’t work for you. If you need to print paper receipts from iOS devices, you should consider PayAnywhere or Square.
GoPayment is the best option for printing receipts from Android devices and the ability to charge cards via a Web interface in addition to using a mobile device. If you need a synchronized database for your inventory, or want bar code scanning, SAIL is a good choice.
For more information, you can see in-depth reviews of the four systems on PC World:
In closing, online shopping has become universal. According to eMarketer, e-commerce sales are expected to jump 62%, from $224 billion in 2012 to $327 billion in 2016. Retailers must be prepared to do business in the mobile age or risk falling behind. Optimizing your mobile storefront and adopting a mobile payment system are two ways for retailers to increase business and stay ahead of their competitors.
(Disclosure: I’m a consultant for Rio SEO on digital/mobile storefront software.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.