If you’re a major national franchise brand, Google Wallet is decent news: an easier way for consumers you know and don’t know to engage in your business, to pay. And even though NFC has its limitations and expense associated with it, going mobile in any way is a good thing. But if you’re a boutique merchant, Google Wallet only makes it more difficult to get on the mobile map so that consumers can interact with you.
But even though it’s really not good for smaller merchants, it’s not all bad news. It’s just a wake up call. Mobile payments isn’t something down the road. It’s Google mainstream now. I know, I know, you can argue that it’s not on the mothership of smart phones yet. No iPhone? Who cares, right? But it will be. No point in arguing whether PayPal will win a law suit, or whether MasterCard’s PayPass is enough to take this baby to prime time. The sounding gun has been shot. And here’s what needs to be ringing in small merchants’ ears:
Build your business for mobile, cardless payments now or be left seriously behind. And falling behind threatens your existence.
Now, the really good news is that people live locally. So boutique merchants and restaurateurs are part of people’s lives. The trick is to give people their town both online and on the streets. Constant access to what they need locally. A virtual town mall at every citizens’ fingertips. Every deal, every day, where you live.
And being online shouldn’t be more convenient than being in a brick and mortar store. Anyone should, for instance, go on their smart phones, click on an app, and order a case of their favorite wine from their favorite local wine store. When it arrives, that consumer gets a text and either has it delivered or goes and picks it up. Mobile payments enables that, especially if there’s a real transaction and settlement system with PIN security.
With a full mobile payment system, local merchants can do is create transferrable loyalty and discount programs, and co-market with neighboring merchants. Imagine the wine shop, gourmet food shop, and family owned bookstore hosting a wine and cheese author reading. With a mobile app system, they can invite locals to the party offering discounts, and if they get enough RSVPs, they have the event. If not, they don’t.
Marketing ideas become on-demand, with far less risk and expense. Think about the local toy store and children’s clothing store having a trunk sale at a local day care, or the bookstore children’s section, or local pizza parlor, or playspace. Engaging locally is made possible.
Google Wallet won’t do that. It’s not enough to offer beaming your payment for a sandwich at Subway. In the same vein, it’s not enough to offer one deal per day. Mobile payments players that can really help smaller merchants are ones that can bring local citizens and local merchants together.
Think about it. You live somewhere. In your hand at any moment, don’t you want access to your town? What sort of access do you want and need from local merchants? And if you are a merchant, what do you want to be able to do with your business next? How are the national chains hitting you the hardest?