Melt my wallet down into a belt for Barbie’s boyfriend? Not quite yet! While there may well be an app for my Tesco clubcard, I still need somewhere to keep my train tickets, receipts, vouchers, coupons, loyalty cards, driving license, paper clips. Oh yes, and my cash, debit and credit cards.
A complete replacement for my battered leather friend is still a long way off. I’d guess it’ll be at least five years before there’s a standard mechanism that can replace all my payment types, one that’s as easy to use as current credit cards (ideally easier) and accepted everywhere, from the largest department store to the tiniest market stall.
However, there’s something that’s happening a lot quicker and doesn’t involve me moving stuff from my wallet at all. My trusty PayPal account, that I use to buy obscure things from one man and his cat online retailers, is starting to channel hop.
While the PayPal explosion continues unabated online (18 per cent of all online transactions, 100+ million accounts), until recently it couldn’t be used in-store. That’s starting to change and there’s a few reasons why this makes sense: People feel ‘safe’ using PayPal; The ‘webification of the store’ continues unabated, with Click and Collect, Order in Store etc., so why not start taking the online payment methods into store too? Goods paid for online via PayPal can be returned through the store and refunded back onto the original PayPal account; And PayPal gives a single view of all receipts online, one less thing to store in my wallet!
Last month across the Aurora brands (Coast, Warehouse, Oasis), BT Expedite were the first POS provider to offer ‘PayPal in Store’ functionality. You can now download the ‘PayPal in Store’ app onto your iOS or Android phone and pay for your sparkly frock in-store without ever touching your wallet (or more likely your purse). And if you’re really lucky you needn’t go anywhere near the tills, as this innovative fashion retailer is starting to replace traditional tills with in-store iPads. For customers, it’s as easy as pushing the ‘Pay’ button in the app, which pops a barcode on the phone screen for the store staff to scan to take payment. Easy as that! No expensive NFC readers in-store. Well, actually the barcode readers to scan the phone aren’t that cheap. Note to retailers replacing in-store barcode scanners – make sure they can read from phone screens.
Once a certain percentage of high street stores are enabled (with ‘PayPal in Store’ replacing Facebook’s ‘Like me’ stickers in shop windows) it will start to become very useful. And this could happen sooner than you may think. BT Expedite has made this a standard functionality for retailers adopting new in-store systems. I’d hazard a guess other POS providers are lining up to do the same.
So a push from PayPal and POS providers is a given. A healthy debate between PayPal and the retailers around transaction charges versus value add should then complete the jigsaw. For now the ability to pay via smartphone is through a separate ‘PayPal in Store’ app. If PayPal move this across into their standard smartphone PayPal app then overnight 15 million PayPal smartphone users have the ability to join the channel hopping brigade.
I sit in my rocking chair out on my verandah of an evening imaging a future where traditional tills pumping out smoke at the front of stores have long gone, replaced by satchel-wearing, tablet-enabled store staff wafting up to me in changing rooms the length and breadth of the country offering me the latest and greatest slim fit trousers in any colour from wherever they are in the retail estate, delivered to my door by teatime. And payment for said slim fit trousers happening in the changing room, no tedious queuing with the masses for me.
I want it. I want it soon. And I don’t want to queue. Basic needs that have existed forever, taken for granted online. And now in a store near you.
Posted by Steve Thomas, CTO, BT Expedite