Do your customers appreciate all that development effort?
I consider myself to be a tech-savvy consumer. When I want to grab a coffee from my favorite chain on the way to work, I pull up the merchant provided app as I start the car. I see my recent orders, and in most cases just re-submit my last purchase. I can get up-to-the-minute information about the stores around me, in case my normal stop is running low on my favorite brand. I place the order, and authenticate payment with a thumbprint as I shift into reverse gear, and set out on the short drive to the coffee shop. When I get there, I check my phone to verify that the order is ready, walk in to the store, greet the clerk, and leave with my cup of brew in a few seconds. The process I just described takes a small army of systems marching in lockstep to pull off. It no doubt took an enormous amount of design, development work, QA & testing. Consider some of the issues that developers had to grapple with:
The mobile application needed to communicate with the store’s inventory management system, with a CRM system (to access my profile, preferences and buying history), with Apple Pay or Android Pay to access my payment credentials, and with a payment processor to authorize & process payment. The point-of-sale (POS) system in the coffee shop needed to be able to accept my on-line/eCommerce order and pass it to the barista's queue as it would a regular in-store purchase. The POS needed access to my stored (tokenized) payment credentials, in case I wanted to add some banana bread at the last minute while picking up the coffee.
As if this all wasn’t enough, the systems behind the transaction needed my customer details to print out a personalized label that could be used to identify me when I came in to claim my coffee. Trials are already underway with smarter payment systems that pull up a customer’s photo as they walk into the store so that a savvy barista can greet their customer by name and perhaps even wish them a Happy Birthday.
Whether too much personalization starts to feel creepy is up for debate, but months of development work and cross-functional teaming no doubt went into this delicate ballet. Do I appreciate the effort? I haven’t really thought much about it to be honest. I just want my coffee to be ready when I walk in the door. If this shop can't do that, odds are I’ll just find a competitor who can.
The lessons for developers & merchants:
Customers may not be familiar with (or care) about things like Tokenization, BLE or Beacons, but they certainly care about convenience, security and good service. Consumers want the buying experience to be simple and seamless. Providing this type of consistent, convenient buying experience requires a high degree of integration between traditionally discrete, channel-specific technologies that merchants have been using for years. The omnicommerce “first movers”, backed by talented IT shops and developers, have set the bar high indeed. Customers might not care about omnichannel, but they certainly know convenience when they see it and are voting with their (increasingly digital) wallets.
Developers have a crucial role to play in engineering customer experiences that are as satisfying as the coffee itself!
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To learn more about integrating In-App and web-based buying experiences with your POS, check out our Mobile & Digital Wallet Developer Resources on Vantiv O.N.E.