Use your phone instead of your purse
By Virginia F. Bodmer-Altura
Retailers around the world want to rationalise their business and they know that cashiers station offer bottlenecks. In order to reduce staff the customer has to take over many more tasks than just shopping
Smart mobile phones equipped with all kind of applications permit merchants to make a multiple use of customers’ phones and eliminating cashier stations.
In America Google Wallet and large cell phone companies such as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA are somewhat dominating the technology aspects of this new mobile phone paying methods and in order to brake the monopoly and to compete with banks, credit card organisations, telecommunication companies and technology firms, around two dozen retailers are working together to develop a mobile-payment system to compete with the already existing ones. These new payment devices allow retailers to regain direct contact with the customer for instance with advertising certain loyalty systems (e.g. coupons) on the customers cell phone and thus bringing them into the store. If the item is available the customer can pick it up at the pick-up station and just swipe his phone over a payment device and the transaction is done. It is clear that the retailers hope to save money but some cashiers might lose their jobs.
Retailer doubt that the actual technology offered has some inherent security and privacy risks and they insist that they will provide tailor made solutions to their customers’ needs. The participating retailers do not relieve their names nor did they communicate when their own applications will be available however they seem to represent a combined annual turnover of USD 1.38 trillion, including big-box stores, drugstores, vending companies and fast food restaurants but also Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Already adhering to the existing cell phone payment services are American Eagle Outfitters Inc, Macy’s Inc. and Walgreens. The Google Wallet comprises of 150000 merchants having installed the contactless readers. J.P. Morgan Chase, Capital One Financial Corp and Barclays PLC will make Isis a telecommunications-led venture available to their customers and trials will start in summer. PayPal is developing its digital wallet with Home Depot stores and it is activated by entering a phone number and a personal identification number at the cash register.
Other devices are applied when the customer is shopping and all items one has in his shopping carrier will be automatically compiled and when swiped contactless over the special screen and then all details and the total sum to be payable will appear and the customer will use his cell phone to pay.
Maybe the next step will be a robot customer who will be activated by phone and entrusted with all shopping and the real customer will be watching and directing the robot on the phone, get him to the pick-up terminal and then release him by activating the payment of the total sale and the real customer picks up the merchandise or has it dispatched to his location. Fortunately textiles and clothing are items still to be felt and put on before being bought and therefore there is only a minor risk to be replaced by a robot!