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Making Valentine’s Day more than just a fleeting moment of gratification

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Valentine’s Day looms and, while like every recent peak it is set to be a mobile one, it is mobile payments where all the love is likely to be felt in the first half of this year.

Mobile payments has been long on promise for years and early 2017 – a time of utter turmoil and norms being trashed – is likely to see more attention focussed on just how the mobile can be used in the payment process.

As we report, 10million people used Amazon Pay on mobile in 2016, set the pace for 2017 and, as we reported last week, two in five people have used mobile to pay in store at least once.

This is all backed up by payment provider Adyen, which has released its annual results showing that, not only is its payments processing business booming thanks to retailers looking for new ways to handle payments, but that almost 70% of the payments they do process are mobile.

And mobile payments are already changing how people shop – but not always in a good way.

New research from Barclaycard reveals that, driven by the convenience of mobile shopping, six in ten UK shoppers don’t just hunt out bargains, but take a punt on impulse purchases which they later come to regret.

Demonstrating the extent of impulse buying behaviour, the findings show that sales shoppers have splashed out an average of £183 each during the festive discount period, but have returned, or still plan to return, £128 worth of goods – working out as 70% of their total spend.

Mobile is making it worse, with shoppers who once would buy in a frenzy of endorphins in the store in the sales, slowly spurred on by the fellow shoppers now just picking up the phone and getting that same rush from the comfort of their sofa.

And the revolution in mobile payments is fuelling this process. While the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) research shows that entering a card number into a mobile website is still the most common way people pay on mobile, the use of PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and stored card details in apps are rapidly catching up.

This move to more frictionless ways to pay is driving the impulse buyer to buy more, which is good for bottom line. However, the unforeseen consequence – there is always an unforeseen consequence with any tectonic shift in consumer behaviour – is that returns are going to rocket, putting strain in retailers fragile bottom lines.

So what can be done to balance out the drive to make shopping easier against the fact that it can often now be too easy – and people quickly regret what they have bought and send it back?

The answer lies with mobile loyalty, as our Guest Opinion this week from Adam Croxen, Managing Director, Future Platforms, points out. He looks to John Lewis and Starbucks to show how slick mobile payments, loyalty, personalisation and above all customer service can all work together to make the process work.

More than just making it easier for shoppers to shop thanks to slick payments, incorporating it with a loyalty scheme that understands what the shopper wants and helps guide them to buy what they want is going to be the way to drive growth and, hopefully, keep those returns to a minimum.

So, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, perhaps it is time to find ways to understand your customers and let them fall in love with you and buy from you because they want those things, not just because it leads to a moment of fleeting gratification.


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