Mobile payment expert: To thrive on Black Friday and beyond, retailers need to change the shopping experience

In this image from CNN, shoppers fight their way through Macy's in New York last Black Friday.

In this image from CNN, shoppers fight their way through Macy’s in New York last Black Friday.

by Dan Rafter

The online world is a real threat to brick-and-mortar retailers. Consider that the National Retail Foundation predicts that online shoppers are expected to spend $1.6 billion on Black Friday alone, and you can see what a big bite the Internet is taking out of the profits of traditional retailers.

Traditional retailers, though, do have ways to fight back against this trend. One solution is particularly high-tech: Brick-and-mortar stors can now track customers through their smartphones in and around sores to learn more about their shoppin behavior.

Savvy retailers are now using smartphone-based mobile-tracking technologies to increase their ability to interact with customers, says UK-based retail technology and mobile payment specialist Dan Wagner, in a recent press release.

“It’s all about offering the consumer something extra,” Wagner said.

There’s geolocation, for instance. If customers transmit their locations to a retailer, this retailer could send them a message by smartphone letting the consumers know that one of their stores sits just 300 yards away.

Retailers can also send messages to consumers when items that these customers frequently purchase are being offered at sale prices. Other retailers might allow customers to use their smartphones to pay for purchases anywhere in their stors, not just at check-out.

This last point is important. How many shoppers complain about long holiday lines? And how many of these same customers decide to shop online to avoid these lines? By allowing customers to make mobile payments without having to wait in long lines, retailers remove one of the biggest complaints customers have with traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.

“It is now up to the stores to seek out and create innovative ways through which they can engage with their customers,” said Wagner, owner of Powa Technologies. “Geolocation, mobile payment and tailoring the experience to the consumer represent some of the ways retail is changing for the better.”

The National Retail Federation stated that a record  139 million people shopped both online and in stores over the Black Friday weekend in 2012, spending $59.1 billion.

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