Bringing one-click payment to brick & mortar stores

Being a german company means living in a country that has always been a little late with changes in the retail world. Cash has always been, and still is, king in Germany, despite being crazily impractical and expensive to produce.

In 2017 at least 98% were in possession of a debit card, but only 36% of germans own a credit card (up from 27% in 2008). And while the acceptance of card payments in brick & mortar stores has gone up tremendously there are still stores that do not accept any kind of cashless payment.

Meanwhile card companies added features like NFC to their cards and stores happily upgraded their payment terminals to support the technology. Customers are now able to pay up to 25 € just by holding their card near the payment terminal without the need to enter a pin. Indeed that adds a little convenience when you’re shopping for shoes or in a cafe – stores without the need to use shopping cards. But contactless payment is nearly nowhere advertised, older cards don’t support the feature at all and it’s advantages are limited, because it only solves a small fraction of a larger problem.

Google Pay, Apple Pay

Google Pay and Apple Pay built upon their existing user base. Both already have a huge amount of customers, including their credit card information. So it was only natural for them go add a product that can be of use in the offline world. Paying with Google or Apple Pay feels way more modern than paying contactless by card. But why?

Paying by app feels more self-determined. As a user, I am starting the payment and see it’s progress on the display of my own device. It never leaves my hands. And I have an overview of my purchase history.

Apple Pay Image source: Apple

Still, Apple Pay and Google Pay are just frontends that use your existing credit card data in the background. Neither Google nor Apple are acting like an actual bank, something that may change in the coming years, maybe with companies like N26. And that may be the doomsday of credit card companies. When they are pushed so far in the background that they are nearly invisible for consumers, why even get a credit card in the first place?

In the end, Google Pay, Apple Pay and others are trying to bring one-click-shopping to brick & mortar stores. That’s a great starting point and surely just the tip of the iceberg for features to come. For retailers, accepting these payments will become more and more crucial. And since the services are meant to further lock users in the ecosystem of each company, there are no additional transaction costs for retailers. Win-win, right?

It’s time to create a radically better shopping experience

While Google Pay and Apple Pay are offering a way better customer experience than using that plain old plastic card, with NFC or not, there’s still room to grow. Lots and lots of room.

My main reason for that statement is that all those contactless payment technologies are great for any sort of store where you purchase one or two items. Like a store where you spend time to find the right pair of shoes, maybe with the assistance of a representative, and finally enjoy buying the greatest pair of shoes of all time. The payment in those smaller stores actually can be kind of fun, because it represents the end of a successful journey.

On the other hand there are stores you buy stuff you really need to get a job done, like DIY stores. Or the best example: A supermarket you visit multiple times a week, only to spend more time in the checkout queue than actually roaming though the store. Only offering contactless payment doesn’t help anything at all, the experience is still awful.

If the checkout process in a small store if awful you may still come back. You got the item you wanted, and your next visit may be months away, anyway. But if the checkout process in your local supermarket is awful you suffer multiple times a week. And that’s where snabble joins the party. I’m not going to write much in this article, we’ve got plenty of information for retailers available on our website.

One-click payment is good, but one-click checkout is even better.

Stop scratching the surface

My main point is: Think big, and dare to think differently. Take a leap of faith. Right now, too many companies are scratching their own itch. And what happens when everyone scratches their own itches? There’s blood everywhere.

About the author
 

Patrick Queisler is a product manager and designer with a UX background at snabble. He has worked with design agencies and international corporations as well as with small startups. He is always looking for innovative ways to reduce complexity for customers and enhance their experience. Follow @queisler on Twitter.

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