The first important bit of news is that Apple’s foray into the mobile payments world will begin this fall with the release of their Passbook software. We mentioned two weeks ago that Passbook would be delayed, however it was recently announced that it would appear in their next iOS as an application.
The second bit of news concerns AuthenTec’s technology, which facilitates software for fingerprint/identity purposes. Apple has made an offer for $356 million dollars to purchase the sensor chip licenses from AuthenTec, which will presumably be used for fingerprint validation for mobile payments in the upcoming Passbook app.
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This is an obvious shot across the bow to Samsung and Google, who could very possibly counter-offer the bid made by Apple for ownership of Authentec. Any firm with reliable technology related to mobile payments will be courting big players like Apple and such in near future.
Foresee Results, an independent customer experience analytics firm, produces a 100-point study annually, measuring consumer experience across many types of retail platforms. Apple came in on top of their 2011 mobile shopping experience study with an 85 point score, followed closely by Amazon at 84 points. These high scores can be attributed to both company’s success at keeping their mobile sites as similar as possible to the standard website, both in terms of navigation, content and ergonomics.
Larry Freed, current president and CEO at Foresee Results, recognizes first-hand the rising trend in mobile commerce but also notes the challenges ahead. “There is a lot of room for improvement and there are a lot of complexities and variables with mobile commerce, from various operating systems to device and screen size,” he said. “It’s not as simple as the early days of the Web when everyone was building for Internet Explorer. Now you’ve got multiple OS’s, phones and tablets, and various screen sizes, all which affect the user experience. You need to apply the same concepts on mobile as you do on the Web, but it’s a very different platform.”
Navigation and functionality are at the heart of why some mobile shopping experiences fall short. It is the combination of driving device capable content, ease of use and high levels of security to turn mobile “spectators” into actual customers. Further, measuring usage habits and customer satisfaction closely will separate companies that truly want to maximize on this payment trend and those that may not realize the potential for mobile to become integrated into daily shopping habits of customers. According to Foresee Results, customers that are satisfied with their mobile shopping experience are 54% more likely to return to that very same mobile site and shop again.
Since customer perception and expectations for mobile experiences are largely based on traditional website navigation, functionality and content, companies need to recognize this link and increase efforts to tie-in both traditional and mobile site design.
Lifestyle apparel retailer Guess has launched a program to bring innovative elements to their in-store shopping experience. Leveraging Verifone’s GlobalBay mobile retail platforms and software, Guess has set up rolling stands with iPads in approximately 12 stores across the USA. This is a test phase for the retailer, with plans to expand this program to their other locations based on the usage rates and overall functionality within their existing retail environment.
The iPad stations allow customers to shop for products in-store as usual but are seamlessly integrated into the shopping experience by exposing them to enhanced brand level content. The iPads come preloaded with GlobalBay’s Lookbook application which showcases videos, content, and an innovative product catalog function that ties to an e-commerce platform, all while integrating with current Guess POS and inventory systems. The software is stock with these backend functionality, allowing a brand to simultaneously maintain creative control over their layout and aesthetic design to properly showcase their features.
The stations are mounted on wheels, allowing employees the ability to move the mobile iPad freely in the store so they can, for example, assist further in changing rooms by suggesting alternate colors and styles to patrons who are actively trying on their products. Store managers are mandated to use the stations to help train new staff, give up-to-date product knowledge sessions, and help manage the Guess brand. Future plans for the system include the addition of a barcode scanner and credit and debit card mag stripe units to automate the checkout process, a similar trend that has taken hold in major department and grocery stores.
Will this be the end of the salesperson? Not likely, but it will modernize the way retail stores, their clerks, and their customers interact. The traditional retail shopping experience at Guess and other clothing stores alike are going to be become much more technology-driven and better equipped for enhanced service.