Mobile devices outnumber people.
It’s no secret that the PC has, or at least is, gone the way of the dinosaurs. Mobile devices are lighter, pack enough power, and do everything – if not more – than a PC can. We take them everywhere with us. They have transformed the way we interact with people and with the rest of the world on a daily basis.
Going, Going, Gone are the days of paper coupons, receipts, money, payments, hard copy documentation. OK, all that is not completely gone, after all, I can pull coupon fliers out of my US snail mail box at least every weekend. But more and more people and consequently more and more companies are going to the virtual world to do business.
There’s an App for that.
However, it is not enough for companies to simply have a web site or an app. To be successful, a company needs a mobile strategy which fits their current business and customer base. An app or a website is not a mobile strategy.
The most successful mobile strategies use a combination of apps, websites, and promotions, all designed to enhance the customer online experience and keep loyal and returning customers. Many of the big names do this very well such as Amazon, EBay, Starbucks, Target, etc. They have great loyalty programs and well defined strategies.
But not every company has traditional interactive loyalty apps.
Some utilize games to keep people engaged, others provide information designed to keep their product and services in mind.
One of the more interesting apps I came across while researching mobile strategies by companies was one by Charmin called sit or squat.
It is a crowd sourcing app in which user’s rate bathroom facilities on cleanliness.
So if you happen to find yourself suddenly needing to use the facilities while doing all your Black Friday shopping or traveling to relatives; you can use this app to find the nearest, cleanest and highest rated bathroom facility.
All brought to you by Charmin.
When it comes to loyalty programs, many of the traditional keys to success are the old tried and true components of good customer service, interactive ease of use, and most importantly customer trust. So far, successful marketing strategies such as loyalty programs which anybody can sign up for and use have proven to be more profitable than individual payment options. There are two hurdles that I see with investing in e-payment options. First and foremost is trust. Many people are concerned about security breaches and data integrity with online retail. There have been great advances in online transaction security but the rate of adoption by institutions varies widely. The second hurdle is accessibility and ease of use. On a very basic level not everyone can use each and every option out there. For instance, almost every major financial institution, smartphone provider (LG, SAMSUNG, GOOGLE, APPLE) as well as individual payment process companies like PayPal, either have – or are coming out with – their own payment app.
Each and every one of these face the exact same problems. Customer acceptance, trust and accessibility.
Follow the money.
I had one person ask me recently if buying a stock like Apple because Apple Pay is gaining in both popularity and distribution was a good idea or if another like PayPal might be better. That is an excellent question. My answer was this. Comparing Apple to PayPal is not comparing Apples to Apples.
PayPal and Apple are totally different companies.
My advice to him was to ignore all the different e-wallet/e-pay options out there and buy Apple because of its brand, product line and strategy.
But if he was looking for just an ecommerce play, PayPal might be a good choice. I like the fact that it is platform independent. It can be used online, at the sales terminal at stores, or even between people. Anybody can use it.
Another investment option which I have been closely following are companies which handle these financial transactions, no matter which platform or location they are initiated from. Two such companies are Total System Services (TSS), Global Payments (GPN).
In addition, I would consider the two major credit/debit card companies out there, Visa and MasterCard. After all, products like Apple Pay, though i-product dependent, are tied to cards you already use. So Visa and MasterCard would be good choices for benefiting from more and more virtual payment options.
And there is one last company to consider as you are out and about this holiday season shopping, visiting friends and relatives, looking for the highest rated Charmin bath room, and ultimately returning some gifts as well; and that is BlackHawk Networks (HAWK). They provide all those nice prepaid gift, telecom, and debit cards; and related payment services that almost everybody uses at least once during this holiday season.
Until next time, Happy Holidays and be careful shopping and traveling out there.