Guest Blog: Pay By Phone? What Are You Waiting For?

March 5, 2015

Hopefully you’re on the alert for the latest developments in cashless transactions. The landscape is changing at an accelerating pace.

Retail stores are moving quickly to enable pay-by-phone capabilities. A news item from Convenience Store Decisions, “Nearly 300% More Retailers Plan To Deploy Mobile POS” indicates that many retail brands see mobile POS (point of sale – the “cash register” or payment transaction point) as a critical near-term opportunity. Other expected benefits include: (1) enhancing the shopping experience (by allowing people to access relevant information on their own mobile devices); (2) geolocation – tracking shoppers at a location to reach out and entice them to specific products and offers – which was previously discussed in a January 2012 podcast relating to an Aramark initiative on 

Consumer payment evolves

Perhaps the most important and exciting insight is that we are at the beginning of a new phase of shopper (i.e., consumer) marketing. You should read “Opinion: Are You in Their Wallet?” By Anton Bakker, President & CEO, Outsite Networks – from, Convenience Store and Fuel News.

The debate over transaction fees on card payments is a huge issue for retail brands in any channel – especially when low-value transactions (less than $5.00) are involved. Bakker comments, “Through mobile wallets, the new relationship between consumers and brands level the playing field from the small single store to the large chains. You need to move quickly to grab what’s left of the early mover’s advantage and embrace wallets…”

Bakker goes on, “The catchphrase ‘What’s in your wallet?’ has evolved into ‘Are you in their wallet?’”

But, even “…in their wallet” might be out-of-date soon. Domino’s, the pizza chain, announced a smartwatch app so that customers can order and track delivery time without logging in from a smartphone or computer. Nation’s Restaurant News reported that other restaurant chains are looking at this new ordering capability. 

Vending must keep up

According to research from Berg Insight, there are 560,000 connected vending machines in North America. That means roughly 12% of vending machines are connected. We must pick up the pace. My thinking is that at least half of our machines should be connected to enable remote monitoring, engagement with shoppers and, of course, cashless payments.

A news item at, from the National Association of Convenience Stores, reported on the “Future of Retail Study” from Walker Sands, a Chicago-based PR agency. A key finding was “…only 11% of those surveyed had paid for something in cash in the past day — down from 27% who had done so in the same survey a year ago.” Another interesting revelation is that “…under 60% of those surveyed had $20 or less in their wallets.”

Cashless is inevitable. Pay by smartphone is the future. Don’t wait. Offering mobile POS is essentially a requirement – something that your customers demand. You need to be in the shopper’s wallet – and that wallet is a smartphone. Maybe, not too far in the future, that wallet will be on a smartwatch.