Adopting mobile technologies will help retailers provide customers the level of information and engagement that they desire in turn achieving their own sales targets.
Singapore has been making great strides in achieving a cashless society. Its infrastructure for mobile payments using near-field communication (NFC) technology is ready for launch and will be rolled out in three payment types. It is the first step towards a cashless society for those living in Singapore and three types of payment modes--credit, prepaid and stored-value—will soon be available at almost 30,000 retail points. These outlets include merchants such as Cold Storage and ComfortDelGro taxis. However, a recent report in Singapore’s Straits Times mentioned that many retailers in Singapore were still hesitant to adopt new “tap-and-pay” systems that permit contactless payments. Reasons stated included the cost of upgrading payment systems and the lack of users. This is a short term view and retailers should try to look beyond the temporary uncertainties.
Mobile Commerce is here to stay and mobile banking, finance and payments are a small but integral part of this. The fact that retailers are resistant to new technologies is a worrying trend. The current lack of users of tap-and-pay systems can be attributed to the fact that these technologies are relatively new and customers are unaware of them. The lack of knowledge has bred security concerns amongst consumers but these are bound to fade as contactless payments become more popular across gadget-loving Singapore. In order to adapt to the changing needs and lifestyles of customers it is imperative for retailers to take a proactive stance rather than adopting a wait-and-see approach as they are doing now.
Singapore has a 90 percent rate of smartphone penetration per capita and many Singaporeans own more than one portable device 1 . According to PayPal‘s Online and Mobile Shopping Insights 2011 study, mobile shoppers constituted close to half (48%) of all online shoppers in 2011, compared to about one in three (29%) in 2010. Thus, research confirms that mobile commerce is going to become a way of life soon, and retailers should celebrate this instead of being wary of the potential challenges.
Mobile commerce is less about finance and banking than it is about the entire experience of shopping, and how it is being transformed by mobile. Using mobile as a channel to engage with customers can revitalize shopping and retail. Paying for goods and service through mobile devices is only a small part of what mobile commerce can achieve. In mobile commerce, consumers can use their mobile devices along every stage of the purchase journey, and these devices can play a critical role in influencing their purchase decisions. In fact, with 34 percent of Singaporeans stating that they use their mobile phones for search, mobile might become a game changer for the way that people discover new products, restaurants, and places of entertainment.
The rise of m-commerce is not limited just to Singapore, and is taking place in nearly all countries across Asia. Smartphone usage has increased phenomenally in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and India as well and mobile shopping, mobile banking and mobile payments are bound to become popular there too.
The rise of mobile commerce holds undeniable benefits for retailers. Mobile payments for example provide greater ease of use and enable faster, smoother transactions. Cashless payments also provide retailers with the opportunity to collect a great deal of data on customers that can be used to tailor marketing materials and customer services. Companies such as Starbucks for example have also begun to run customer loyalty programs supported by mobile apps. Such apps increase interaction with customers but minimize administrative costs at the same time. These apps can be used across platforms and in different countries as well.
Retailers should make stores as mobile friendly as they can. By providing QR codes and web-links to in-store customers, retailers can make available all the information and media that customers need to make their decisions. Offering e-coupons and other benefits to shoppers via mobile devices also fosters greater loyalty and improves the overall experience for the customer.
Shoppers have been flocking to online stores and blog shops in the past couple of years. The stores offer excellent customer services to shoppers in the comfort of their own homes. Retail has suffered due to the big boom in online shopping, but now mobile has provided some hope to the industry. Mobile is the perfect tool for retailers to drive traffic back toward physical stores by providing customers with the level of information and engagement that they desire and need in today’s hyper-connected world.