NATIONAL REPORT — The checkout process is ever-changing in all areas of retail, whether it’s big-box, apparel, grocery or convenience stores. The standard cash, credit or debit payment methods are now accompanied by mobile payment, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Chase Pay, and even taking the entire checkout process mobile. Consumers are also being given the ability to pay right from their vehicles with in-car payment technologies in select newer vehicles.
“Consumers have told us they want speed, ease, value and security, as well as convenient access to a variety of payment types,” Albert Rivas, head of North American marketing technology for Shell Retail, based in Houston, told Convenience Store News. “Adding these different payment platforms and forms of payment delivers a simplified, differentiated and personalized customer experience while driving loyalty.”
Amazon introduced a cashierless checkout experience with its Amazon Go stores, and frictionless checkout options are now popping up at other retailers, including c-stores.
7-Eleven Inc. is piloting mobile self-checkout using its own app at a handful of stores in the Dallas area, while several other chains are using a third-party service, Skip mobile self-checkout, to offer a frictionless checkout experience. These chains include Domino’s Food and Fuel, a subsidiary of Elmer Smith Oil Co., based in Clinton, Okla., with 17 stores.; Ricker’s, based in Anderson, Ind., operating 58 locations; Jiffy Trip, based in Cherokee, Okla., operating 28 stores; and Enmarket, based in Savannah, Ga., with 123 stores.
“Consumer interest in mobile self-checkout is already there, especially given the marketing hype around Amazon Go,” said Patrick T. Raycroft, a consultant at Chicago-based W. Capra Consulting Group, specializing in c-store and petroleum, quick-service restaurant and specialty retail, as well as digital commerce technologies.
All of the new payment options today are meant to make the checkout process easier and more convenient. Consumer adoption of such technology is increasing fast.
In the convenience and fuel retailing industry, fuel brands and c-store brands are rolling out their own branded apps, tying payments into them along with loyalty programs, and continually updating and expanding upon them to keep pace.
“In October 2018, Shell rolled out a new Shell app with a variety of payment options,” Rivas explained, noting that Shell’s Fuel Rewards program is integrated into the app allowing customers to gain benefits by using mobile payment. “In December 2018, we added Shell branded credit cards and Masterpass within the Shell app. We now offer customers the ability to pay in a wide variety of ways, including Chase Pay, card on file (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover), S-Pay (linked to a checking account), Shell branded credit cards and Masterpass.”
Some companies, like Chevron, are even including Paypal as an option for fuel payments.
As technology innovation continues, consumer expectations keep rising based not just on what they see in the c-store industry, but in other industries as well, according to Kevin Grieve, North America payments lead at Accenture, a consulting firm based in Dublin, Ireland. This encompasses Netflix, Amazon, Airbnb and Starbucks, to name a few.
“When Starbucks launched mobile payments, they didn’t just offer payments,” Grieve explained as an example of what consumers will expect from other industries. “They added a loyalty program on top of it, so they offered convenience and value. If it was just a payment system, there might have been less interest. Now, they added mobile ordering, which is another value-added component.”
Simply offering mobile payment is not going to alone drive adoption of mobile commerce, although it is necessary to offer options in today’s world. Rather, Raycroft believes it’s about the experience given to a consumer using the mobile platform, with payment being only a piece of it.
“It could be offering rewards or a loyalty program, but there has to be something that brings them to that experience because just being able to pay on my phone doesn’t do it the way people anticipated,” he said.
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