All-in-one app retailer on the go: integration shopping, payment, savings

The expected all-in-one apps from retailers are still outstanding. Only a handful of companies combine the most important shop functions with a savings system and a mobile wallet in one application. Following Walmart, Target recently followed the Starbucks example. In his own country, Albert Heijn is taking a first cautious step

The expected all-in-one apps from retailers are still outstanding. Only a handful of companies combine the most important shop functions with a savings system and a mobile wallet in one application. Following Walmart, Target recently followed the Starbucks example. In his own country, Albert Heijn is taking a first cautious step. But where are the others?

The American retail chain Target has launched a new app just before the end of the year. Just like Walmart, which took similar steps a few months ago, Target wants to improve the offline customer experience. For example, one of the larger (promised) benefits is a faster payment process. With the app customers themselves scan the barcodes of their products. Because the offer and savings system is linked to the app, the available coupons are automatically activated and new loyalty points are credited.

Unlike many similar initiatives, the app is also equipped with a mobile wallet. In it, customers link their favorite payment cards. The integration therefore offers one big plus: the amount due is automatically charged. Theoretically, the Target customer only has to show a receipt to be allowed to walk outside. Paying at the cash register is therefore four times faster, says the chain itself. It should be noted that at this moment only the customers with a special Target card can use the mobile wallet. Whether other payment options are still to follow is unknown.

'Investment pays'

Closer to home Albert Heijn announced recently to come up with Tap to Go - something different on purpose, but with a similar purpose. The AH to go at the head office in Zaandam is equipped with electronic shelf labels that customers can scan with a special card. The app will be added later on. Then someone only has to get the phone along the shelf. The amount is then automatically debited from the payment account. The step seems small to subsequently also link the digital savings card to this new ordering process.

Both Target and Walmart have looked closely at Starbucks. The coffee chain has been seen as a textbook example for years. The mobile app was once developed as a digital savings program, but is now called a complete ecosystem. Everything that has to do with the customer comes together. For example, mobile payment is already a habit for many coffee drinkers. And since 2016, the company is also investing heavily in mobile ordering. The customer orders coffee on the way, the loyalty points are automatically credited and the total amount automatically paid. The app shows on the screen how far it is to the nearest location and how many minutes the coffee is ready. A little extra: the customer does not even have to wait in line.

Although figures often show that this kind of all-in-one apps are able to attract (active) users with difficulty, Starbucks says the investment pays off. For example, around 30 percent of the orders were paid for in 2017. And one in ten orders is already placed ahead, on the road and mobile. But what, according to many experts, is even more important, is the convenience for more loyalty among customers.

'Dutch breakthrough coming'

The question is therefore why other retailers are not yet following the example. After all, the breakthrough of this type of mobile solutions has been predicted for several years. "It is indeed not as hard as expected, but I still expect the breakthrough", says Wies Mensink of Loyalty Rockstars. The example of Albert Heijn is pretty close to her. But other Dutch retailers are also looking at the possibilities, she knows.

"Tests have been run, but the step to launch has not yet been taken. This is mainly due to regulations, but also to the required cooperation between companies. Retailers, telecom providers, device providers, banks and POS systems should join together. That the Netherlands is a relatively small country and the investment per customer is so high, does not help. "

'Coming PSD2 this year of positive influence'

The 'high frequency retailers' in particular - and especially those in the food category - seem to be the right candidates to combine shopping and loyalty programs with payment techniques. This is of added value for both customers and the companies themselves. Solutions for self-service save a lot of costs, data collection becomes easier and of course it also increases speed and ease of use - to name a few of those benefits. "But as long as companies continue to build two different apps for e-commerce and loyalty and there is no integration, it is not logical to add a payment app."

The expectation is that the arrival of the European regulations PSD2 will change a lot. This enables retailers to make a direct link between their apps and customers' bank accounts. And let the payment merge with shopping and marketing. "There are already two parties that are working on a comprehensive solution, the payment app OK and Payconiq. However, these parties do develop their products from a customer perspective ", Mensink notes.

In practice, this does not yet result in an all-in-one app from a retailer. Earlier, this provides broader platforms that can be used by the retailer. But she thinks that the introduction of this is positive anyway. "If retailers embrace the solutions, that will also determine the success of integrated solutions in a general sense."