“Pay by phone” has a new meaning this week as Starbucks announced that it is rolling out a way for customers to pay for their coffee with their smart phones. Leave your money at home, your phone is your new wallet. Don’t dismiss this as just being great for Starbucks. This has implications for businesses of every size, and even B2B (Business to Business) operations will eventually be affected.
Starbucks brand-loyalty cards are already used to pay for one in five transactions. This is the next logical step, according to Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks Card and Brand Loyalty. “With mobile payment, the Starbucks Card platform further elevates the customer experience by delivering convenience, rewarding loyalty and continuing to build an emotional connection with our customers.”
Your coffee wants to build an emotional connection with you. In most cases, at least with respect to coffee, the feeling is mutual. In this case, Starbucks says it will speed you up as well. Just start the app on your Blackberry, iPhone or Android device, scan the bar code on the screen and you’re good to go. You can add more money to your account from the same application – and even keep track of your rewards.
Mobile devices are helping Starbucks build on their already successful social media presence. They monitor how their brand is doing and where. They join the likes of Dell, Pepsi and numerous other companies that have listening centers where buzz, likes, and dislikes are monitored in real-time. We live and must measure activity in a real-time world – and frequently taking action. That means listening to public forums and social networks, and when appropriate, reaching out to customers. Just not in a creepy way.
Paying for goods by bringing up an application on your smart phone is becoming more commonplace in supermarkets and stores around the world. Please don’t confuse “I’ll never pay with my phone” with the idea that other people won’t pay with their phone. While it may seem like a rare occurrence, it is growing quickly. Now with the first nationwide rollout of a mobile payment system, others will quickly follow.
Companies like squareup allow anyone to take credit card payments over a smart phone. Even if you’re only splitting a dinner check, this is a brand new option for everyone.
“Mobile payment is just one example of how we’re continually innovating on behalf of our customers to enhance the Starbucks Experience,” said Brewer. “A growing segment of our customers use smartphones, and through the Starbucks Card Mobile App, we’re providing them with the fastest way to pay.”
With most of us expected to have smart phones by the end of the year, and tablets rocketing off, it should be obvious that there is an expectation that your content and web site should be ready for these customers. Business to Business (or B2B) web teams need to remember that approval processes for larger purchases needs to be supported. After all, it’s now a real-time world. If you aren’t real-time ready, your competitor just may be.
The question is how many customers will you lose in the time it takes you to be ready?