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Jeff Kagan: Customers Judge Best Mobile Pay

These days, choosing the wrong mobile pay application will hurt companies.
Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. Follow him at JeffKagan.com and on Twitter @jeffkagan.
Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. Follow him at JeffKagan.com and on Twitter @jeffkagan.

Today, there are many mobile pay technology options. Both retail stores and online sites have the opportunity to choose the best in class. And they should do just that because the mobile payment service they use is a reflection on them with their customers. Some are much easier to use than others for the customer. Some are easier and better than others and customers have preferences. If that’s the case, why do so many retail stores use badly designed and awkward to use mobile pay technology? The result will be burning the relationship with their own customers.

Customers judge. Every time they walk into a retail store, or do business on their online web site, they judge. They look at the entire transaction. They have found that some are quick and easy and leave them feeling good. Others are more complicated, take longer with more steps and leave them with a sour feeling. That’s not so good.

Choosing Wrong Mobile Pay Hurts Companies

If that’s the case, why then doesn’t every store and web site do what the customer wants? That’s a key to success, yet too many ignore this critical area. Too many executives and too many stores don’t put in the extra effort to find the best service to partner with.

Bottom line, using the wrong mobile payment technology will hurt the enterprise with lower traffic and reduced sales as customers migrate to a competitor which uses different and better technology. Keeping and building your customer base means keeping them happy. To keep them happy, you must use the best, easiest to use technology.

To further illustrate, let’s take a closer look at several retail and online winners and losers in the mobile pay space.

Publix, Kroger, Trader Joes and Sprouts

Why do very few grocery stores use mobile pay technology? Most don’t let you use mobile pay at all to pay. They still require you to stick your credit card in the slot. This is bad enough, but when you are in the self-checkout aisle, there are more differences.

Example, at Kroger (KR) the interface is user friendly. You can do things out of order and the transaction still takes place. However, with Publix if you don’t do everything in the exact right order, nothing happens and you often have to start over. This is very frustrating to the customer. This is causing a self-inflicted wound on their part.

So, while many like Publix, they are causing customers to get angry every time they do business there. Is that their real goal with Kroger right across the street? Other grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts (SFM) let you use your smartphone using mobile pay. In fact, they do this without the customer having to touch the keypad. This is the way every store should be, don’t you think? Caring about the customer. Very forward thinking.

Walmart.com vs. Amazon.com

Walmart (WMT) is a giant in the retail front, however they are still on the learning curve in the online world as they compete with Amazon.com (AMZN). Mistakes are often made in the early stages. When they happen it’s important for the retailer own up and make sure the customer stays satisfied.

However, apparently when Walmart screws up and the customer gets hurt, they don’t care. There is no contact or apology. That’s a big mistake on their part. It is hurting their brand with that customer. This is a problem they are creating for themselves long-term with many customers.

Example, I purchased several items from Walmart.com online and was happy. When it wasn’t right I simply returned the item to a store. That was an advantage over Amazon.com. However, the last item I purchased apparently didn’t come from Walmart, although they never told me about this. It came from a third party.

When it was not what I wanted, I tried to bring it back to a Walmart store, which always worked before. This time they didn’t have a clue what to do and could not help me. I visited store after store, getting angrier as time passed. Walmart was now wasting my time and I was getting upset.

Eventually I learned it was another company I was dealing with over the Walmart.com site. Surprise! So, to return the item, I had to pay for shipping and a 20 percent return fee. I was not told about the return fee in advance. Had I known that, I would have kept the darn thing.

Mistakes Happen, But Make Sure You Take Care of the Customer

Mistakes happen, especially during learning curves, but Walmart should have apologized for screwing up. They should have made their customer happy. They didn’t. This is unacceptable. So, the bottom line is, I no longer shop at Walmart.com. Walmart loses.

Simple differences count. Let’s compare gas stations like QT and RaceTrac. You can use your mobile pay on your smartphone at both. That’s good. However, at QT it’s quick and easy and you don’t have to touch the keypad.

So, because of this, QT has an advantage. That means many customers pull into a QT more often. This is an easy fix however RaceTrac doesn’t seem to get it. And what about other retail stores which use poor technology partners creating a more time intensive and aggravating experience for the customer.

Today Customers Expect More from Mobile Pay

The learning curve is over. Times are changing. Technology is changing. Mobile pay is no longer new. Today, customers expect mobile payment technology. And not only that, but good mobile pay technology. Something they prefer. In fact, customers are beginning to choose the stores they do business with based on the kind of mobile pay transactional relationship they have.

So how does your company stack up? Is it easy to use? Is it quick to use? Is it touch free? The bar is rising. That means you can no longer just be playing with mobile pay, but now you must choose the right mobile pay partner to work with. The reason is customers will judge you based on their experiences with the company you choose for mobile pay.

Don’t disappoint the customer or they will find a competitor who will delight them and win their business. It’s a simple as that. Are you ready to take your mobile pay to the next level? Your customers are. Your competitors are. Now is the time. Either that or you will start to lose market share. It’s that simple.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected]. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan