Mobile wallet adoption at retail stores is all but non-existent. Mobile wallets at the register saw ZERO growth in 2016, and accounted for a measly 0.6 percent of Black Friday sales in retail stores.
The problem with mobile wallets is that it is not easier nor more convenient than swiping plastic. It doesn’t save time but actually adds friction and uncertainty whether or not a user’s mobile wallet will be accepted at a random store.
What does seem to work, at least to a certain degree, are branded payments solutions that also act as loyalty programs. Most famous here is the Starbucks app, widely considered the most successful mobile wallet, responsible for approximately a quarter of the chain’s transactions. When there’s some added value, customers are happy to pull out their phone.
And now along comes Amazon and schools everyone about how to get it right. The retail giant’s Amazon Go store went the extra mile and addressed the true point of friction in the purchasing process: checkout.
The Seattle-based store, which is slated to open to the general public next year, uses computer vision technology and other sensors to know which items the customer took of the shelf. You swipe your phone once when you enter the store, choose the items you want and just walk out.
Now that Amazon’s done it, it is not hard to imagine new offerings of checkout-less stores-as-a-service to SMBs connecting brick-and-mortar stores to cloud-based payments solutions. Perhaps Google, Apple, Samsung, and Alibaba will give such sensors for free when a store joins their payment services.
What Amazon understood better than mobile wallet operators is that customers are not looking for a better way to pay — they are looking for a better way to buy. That’s a big difference. Mobile wallets solve a problem customers didn’t care about.
This is good day for commerce and a very bad day for impulse buyers.