Imagine a world without wallets, money, cashiers, or anything else slowing you down from buying stuff (read in summer blockbuster movie trailer voice for full dramatic impact). Instead of greenbacks, duckets, dolla dolla bills, wampum, cash money, or your monetary expression of choice, all you will need to pay for your stuff will be your cell phone. I'm not making this up ' this is not part of a futuristic Hollywood screenplay where Bruce Willis saves the economy and the world with his cell phone, although that would be AWESOME. Someone somewhere please make this happen. The reality is that with a growing emphasis from brand marketers on shopper marketing tactics, the increasing number of consumers with smart phones (roughly 15% of the cell phone population), and the rise in mobile online shopping in its current format, this day could actually be coming to a store, or theater, near you sooner than you think.
The big picture idea here is that brands will be able to serve you offers directly to your phone via in-store signage using a technology called Near Field Communication, and customize the offers based on your past purchasing history, as well as your location in the store. When you go to purchase the product(s) you will be able to hold your phone up to a scanner at the register to both redeem the branded value offers, as well as pay for your products. Pretty Jetson. And perfect for a generation that has never clipped a coupon.
There are a myriad of things currently happening in the mobile retail space that seem to indicate we could see this in the next few years. The first is the advancement of mobile couponing. A recent study by Juniper Research suggests that by 2013 over 200 million consumers will receive and redeem coupons via their cell phones worldwide. Retailers like Kroger and Stop & Shop have tested in store mobile couponing models, and now ShopRite in conjunction with Unilever are jumping into a test program as well.
The second big evolution is the growing market of mobile shopping. According to a recent Nielsen Mobile poll, approximately 9 million US mobile phone subscribers reported using their handsets to pay for goods or services. Victoria's Secret is the latest brand to launch a mobile e-commerce site that enables people to 'get sexy anywhere'?. I guess you never know where or when you need to get sexy, so it seems like a smart, sexy idea. And I know about this only because of all the press they've received, I SWEAR.
So the natural evolution of mobile shopping would be paying at retail with your phone. Consumers are already somewhat pre-accustomed to this behavior pattern with the prominence of Speed Pass for gas/convenience stores, and a number of different transit passes, such as EZ Pass, providing contactless payment. Security will certainly be a big hurdle to clear, but consumers eventually got over their fear of ordering stuff online, so I would imagine with some time, great marketing, and maybe Bruce Willis it could happen.