In the slow but steady digital commerce evolution, retailers and payment companies are inching their way towards a cashless, cardless, walletless world. This could be good news for us as consumers when it comes to receiving creative new incentives and perks from brands but could also be a disaster waiting to happen.
Let's go back a decade or so in the post-recession world where the consumer became king (and queen) - making smarter and more efficient buying decisions in a struggling economy. Meanwhile, brands struggled to regain affinity with consumers and looked to loyalty or rewards programs to attract new followers in an increasingly social world. The result: An ever-growing chain of mini-cards and forgettable account numbers that weighed us down physically and emotionally. We signed up for everything and anything with little to show for it.
As Starbucks and Apple Pay break away from the app pack, retailers should be wary of creating just another app that consumers will collect but never use - only to be offloaded on their devices for eternity and eventually end up as the next big breach. While I wholeheartedly believe that mobile and mobile payments are driving the future of retail and customer purchasing behavior, I don't think jumping on the app bandwagon is for everyone. There are several other (albeit long tail) ways to support a mobile strategy including location targeting, community engagement and networking, and direct marketing.
And while, "there's an app for that" may feel like an easy strategy in today's device-dictated world, it's not always the right one for your brand and ultimately your customers.
“Retailers are increasingly creating their own payment apps, which allow them to capture valuable data about their users. They can also build in rewards and perks to boost customer loyalty,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu says.