How Mobile Payment Is Changing The Customer Experience For Convenience Services

Mobile technology is redefining customer expectations for their shopping experience. Hence, it was no surprise that a session on how mobile payment technology is impacting customer expectations drew a huge turnout at the National Automatic Merchandising Association show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Michael Kasavana, Ph.D., the National Automatic Merchandising Association endowed professor emeritus, moderated the session.

Paresh Patel, founder and CEO of PayRange, started the session by describing the customer journey, which includes everything that happens to the customer before, during and after making a purchase. Patel noted the convenience services industry must scrutinize how it has improved the customer’s journey rather than simply focus on saving costs and improving sales.

He encouraged his listeners to view their business activities – route management, customization, marketing, payment and post-service customer contact – within three areas: pre-purchase, purchase and post purchase.

The convenience services operator has to use the proper technology when communicating to the customer, Patel said. A millennial customer, for instance, will not call the service provider to report a service issue. They will message via social messaging.

Today’s convenience service is about the customer’s journey and not about the vending machine, he said. Mobile technology provides the gateway to improving that journey.

Today’s technology allows the operator to send the right message to the right person at the proper time, he said.

Yair Nechmad, CEO of Nayax, an IoT platform for unattended payments, telemetry and management tools, talked about the way ecommerce is changing how people shop. Consumers have become accustomed to surfing the web, searching websites and placing orders online. This has caused them to favor mobile transactions over payment cards.

To be successful, operators of unattended retail equipment have to accept all forms of payment, Nechmad said. Today’s payment technologies include card swipe transactions, contactless near field communication, Bluetooth, QR codes, biometric supported personal recognition and social messaging.

Point-of-sale technology allows convenience service operators to offer customer discounts and promotions, he said, and provides more opportunities for customer engagement.

The micro market has emerged as a tool to better engage the consumer, Nechmad said. The management software for micro markets provides sales tracking, coupons and loyalty programs, he said, and can also track purchase behavior.

Mike Lawlor, chief services officer at USA Technologies Inc., said today’s customers expect a simplified experience that leverages technology. Customers want the product when they want it, he said, and they care how products are sourced.

The new consumer seeks an experience, not a transaction, he said, and the experience they are seeking is digital. They value virtual reality and augmented reality more than real life experiences, he said, and they want to communicate via mobile text.

Today’s consumer appreciates a service provider that resolves an issue without forcing the consumer to talk to customer service, Lawlor added.

Asked whether mobile apps or mobile wallets will dominate mobile payments, the presenters were not certain. But one way or another, consumers will be purchasing convenience services on a mobile device.

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