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Is it the Right Time to Invest in Mobile Payment Technology?

Brant Schelhaas

You’re likely aware that mobile payment technology is available, but perhaps you haven’t seen the value of investing in it. You’re not alone. For the past couple years, there have been two major deterrents to wider adoption of mobile payments in the US:

  • Not enough people have owned smartphones with the proper technology
  • Not enough retailers have offered mobile payment-enabled terminals

Yet in 2016, neither of these two obstacles exist. Mobile payment technology—such as NFC—is now standard in most high-end smartphones. Also, retailers have made the shift to EMV-enabled POS terminals, which are almost all also equipped with mobile payment acceptance technologies. Since mobile payment programs are fairly inexpensive and don’t require a lot of technical know-how to install, many small to mid-sized businesses have begun more aggressively adopting mobile payment technology in recent months.

Why mobile payments have fallen flat for consumers

One of the major reasons that many retailers have been slow to adopt mobile payment technology is because consumers have also been slow to do so. This makes sense—why spend money on a technology that your customers aren’t going to use or even expect you to have? In the excitement of developing and marketing the various facets of mobile payments, its proponents have usually neglected to differentiate mobile payments beyond being “just another way to pay.”

Consumers aren’t going to easily ditch their tried-and-true physical wallets for mobile payments if they don’t see sufficient benefits. Kelly Passey of Mobile Payments Today suggests the following approach instead: “Receiving a special sale alert or push notification that inspires a visit to a store, being presented with a mobile offer, paying, and then receiving benefits from a loyalty program all within a mobile wallet app – that's the type of end-to-end experience that will motivate regular Jane and John Doe to ditch their physical wallets.” Here's where we find the unique capability of mobile payments: to capture and store customer shopping history, sync that with a merchant’s system, push timely, relevant offers out to the customer and drive traffic to stores. Merchants must learn to leverage this shopping data if they want to improve the customer experience and boost their sales.

How mobile payments benefit merchants

Mobile payment technology is worth investing in for a variety of reasons, including many tangible benefits to merchants:

  • Integrate and better promote your incentive and loyalty programs. In theory, customers love participating in loyalty and incentive programs and reaping their benefits. But, in reality, keeping track of all of those plastic cards and key fobs can be more trouble than it’s worth. Accepting a mobile payment option allows you to create integrated app/wallet experiences where customer payment and loyalty-rewards programs meet—something we've seen for example with large retailers including Kohl's and Walgreens. Customers will be happy because they’re being easily rewarded for doing business with you, and your business will prosper due to that increased loyalty.
  • Accept credit card payments from nearly any location. Today’s merchants need to be able to accept a wide variety of payment options wherever commerce takes them—whether that’s a food truck, a farmers’ market, a festival or anywhere else. Accepting mobile payments enables small businesses to easily accept credit and debit card payments with little setup time or hardware to buy.
  • Track customer shopping trends and product inventory. Keeping just enough inventory on hand to meet fluctuating customer demands is one of the biggest challenges for many businesses. With mobile payments, each customer’s purchase history and payment method preference are stored seamlessly. The customer trending data available out-of-the-box with most mobile payment technologies will help you understand and serve your customers better.
  • Increase the speed of your checkout process. Keep your customers happy by decreasing their wait times for checkout. Consumers will increasingly realize that paying with a mobile device is faster than pulling out their physical wallet and digging for the card of choice.
  • Reduce the credit card fees you pay. It pays to shop around; some mobile payment companies actually charge less in fees per transaction than credit card companies charge. Of course, the per-transaction fee and percentage varies across the mobile payment companies, so do your homework to see which company will work best for your business and your transaction volume.

So, is it the right time to invest in mobile payment processing technology? Only you can answer that question for your business, but it’s a great time to start capturing customers and growing your sales volume using this innovative payments technology at the point-of-sale.

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