A study conducted by BIA Kelsey revealed that 40 percent of small businesses relied on mobile payments to facilitate customer transactions in 2013, and that an additional 16 percent planned to incorporate it into their operations this year.
Though accepting payments without investing in pricey point of sale equipment is a clear benefit to business owners, mobile payments can also serve as a tangible marketing message that differentiates your business and appeals to customers.
Here’s a look at how accepting mobile payments can be transformed into a marketing message your customers can embrace.
Mobile payments allow customers to pay with what’s in their wallet. Though much has been made of the so-called “interchange fees” merchants bear when accepting customer credit cards as a form of payment, part of serving customers is giving them the payment options they want to use, despite the potential costs of business it may include.
In fact, according to this infographic by Community Merchants USA, nearly 60 percent of small businesses are regularly asked if they accept credit cards by customers, and nearly 70 percent of customers ages 18 to 34 will only shop with merchants that take credit cards.
What’s the bottom line on all that? When you accept mobile payments, you communicate that customer convenience is a top priority.
Mobile payments showcase a seamless customer experience. Though Apple’s retail stores were among the first to demonstrate that a checkout experience didn’t have to include a fixed point-of-sale register (or a line), the idea hasn’t caught on to the benefit of consumers in mainstream retail. (In fact, some retail experts hypothesize that major retailers keep checkout lines long to increase the likelihood of impulse buys.)
But as researchers at Duke University have found, customers truly dislike checkout lines, particularly when they perceive them as slow moving, based on the amount of people waiting.
As a result, mobile payments are a competitive advantage for small business owners. By equipping every member of a small business’s staff with a mobile device that is ready to accept payments, consumers can complete their sale from anywhere in the store, as soon as they decide to purchase.
Mobile payments take your business to the customer. When point-of-sale equipment is affixed at the counter, both business and customer are limited in the potential for a customer-oriented experience that delivers superior convenience and leads to an ongoing relationship.
By contrast, when a business accepts mobile payments, it becomes equipped to meet customers where they are, for a complete brand integration into customers’ daily lives, whether it includes a presence at local events, festivals, fundraisers, or expanding the reach of a physical storefront with strategically located pop-up shops.
Because mobile payments allow a business to process customer transactions at such locations by whatever payment method they choose, the experience ultimately results in one that is a benefit to the customer.
Mobile payments eliminate the need to track receipts. Major retailers have begun to tighten their return policies, reportedly in an effort to crack down on the multibillion-dollar problem of fraudulent returns.
Despite that, the policies are driven by a legitimate business reason — requiring a hard-copy receipt in order to return or exchange merchandise puts the burden on the honest customer.
When a business accepts mobile payments, customers choose to receive their transaction receipt by email or text message. Should they need to return an item, that same receipt is easily retrieved on the customer’s mobile device. In addition, the business can quickly retrieve the same mobile sales record, to process the return or exchange.
Thanks to the flexibility mobile payments allow, the entire experience can take place sans the wait in a customer service line.
Mobile payments allow you to leverage a tool customers trust. Javelin Strategy & Research recently reported mobile sales now exceed $60 billion, and that consumer purchases made on a mobile device have reached an all-time high. By accepting mobile payments, businesses can communicate a customer-centric service attitude and establish a sense of “sameness” and familiarity. In addition, it shows that you understand the tools your customers use, and have made it a business priority to deliver their preferred checkout experience when they interact with your brand.
Studies conducted by Consumer Reports and the Baymard Institute have shown that consumers are less likely to abandon online shopping carts and more willing to purchase from websites that feature familiar privacy and site security logos. By “piggybacking” on the trust consumers have already demonstrated by using their mobile devices for commerce, your mobile payment acceptance may facilitate a similar level of perceived trust.
About the Author: Kristen Gramigna, the Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, is constantly teaching business executives about the ease of mobile payments and also serves on its Board of Directors. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.