Two sides of the mobile commerce coin

As we’ve recently predicted right here in these pages, 2015 will finally be the year of mobile payments. We’re certainly seeing more mobile payment options and easier methods to make payments, and there are a lot of big players out there who may make announcements this year, making this one prediction that may actually come true.

But as with anything involving technology and requiring the buy-in of everyday consumers, the overall picture for mobile payments – and mobile commerce in general – isn’t as rosy as we’ve been led to believe. This is obvious when we look at strides made by a few retailers versus the overall perception of mobile commerce by customers.

Macy’s was just named Mobile Retailer of the Year by the Mobile Commerce Awards, which are handed out by Mobile Commerce Daily. The retail giant, which like so many other brick-and-mortar stalwarts has been experiencing a decline in shoppers coming into their stores, has been steadily fighting back against this trend.

In September, Macy’s rolled out the largest deployment of iBeacons in time for the bustling holiday season. The beacons, located in each of the company’s stores, are used to send special deals and offers to Macy’s shoppers running the Shopkick app. While a handful of other well-known retailers have flirted with iBeacons, Macy’s put its money where its mouth is with such a huge commitment to the technology.

Besides the beacons, Macy’s has also made moves on the mobile payments front with its My Wallet, which holds shoppers’ credit cards as well as coupons and promotions from Macy’s. My Wallet doesn’t seem to integrate with Apple Pay, which might be a good next step if Macy’s hopes to boost its mobile payments cred.

This marriage of physical and digital shopping experiences helped Macy’s win out over rivals – and runners up – Walmart and Walgreens, but even significant advances by a few national retail outlets doesn’t mean mobile commerce has hit its stride.

Just before the Mobile Commerce Awards were announced, a new report by mobile professional services firm Mobiquity found that retail customers aren’t all that thrilled with mobile retail technology and that there’s a gap between what shoppers think they should be able to do in terms of mobile commerce and what they can actually do.

Slightly more than half (54 percent) of respondents said retailers either ‘meet expectations’ or ‘inconsistently meet expectations’ when it comes to the use of technology during a shopping experience, and only 16 percent give retailers a grade of ‘A’ in this area.

Almost half of respondents said there are inconsistencies with the user experience across devices, while just over one-third stated that retailers over promise but under deliver when it comes to technology as a part of an overall shopping experience.

So while companies like Macy’s and others may be making significant investments and progress to create a smooth mobile commerce experience, outside of these few it seems to be more hit or miss. This year may very well be the year of mobile payments and other advances that make retail transactions easier and faster, but until more retailers jump on the bandwagon and embrace technology and how it impacts the user experience all bets are off.

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About Anita Karve 37 Articles
Anita is a writer and editor with 20 years of experience covering just about everything in the technology space with a focus on computer networking and telecommunications. She was managing editor of Billing & OSS World magazine and technology editor at Network magazine and most recently was in charge of newsletter coverage at TM Forum.

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