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Why Best Buy is Going Mobile

BY CSA STAFF

By Mark Williams, Best Buy

In August, we at Best Buy announced that we were joining a cadre of other major retailers in an effort to build a mobile-commerce solution that can improve shopping and paying for customers and merchants alike.

We were not surprised that this news generated a lot of attention. After all, how often does one see the likes of Target, Walmart, CVS, Lowes and us collaborating? And, of course, the news means that merchants have entered a fray that already includes significant entries from issuers, mobile carriers and a few big digital players.

What did surprise us, however, is the amount of skepticism regarding the need for mobile payments. “Isn’t this,” to paraphrase a common refrain, “a solution without a problem?”

We could not disagree more strongly with that sentiment.

It is our belief that the coming shift to mobile payments has the potential to make shopping more convenient and efficient for our customers, provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring merchants and their customers closer together in mutually beneficial ways, and will dramatically improve the status quo in payment security.

The fact is, smartphone-owning consumers simply do not leave home without their phones. The ability to carry a phone in lieu of a wallet will simplify their lives. As will faster-moving checkout lines and electronic coupons, Reward Zone certificates and receipts.

There are those who think the status quo is convenient enough, just as there were those who saw no issue with fishing for change at highway toll plazas or who thought automobiles were pointless because horses got them from Point A to Point B without incident. History shows that when technology can save us time, it emerges.

But there’s more at stake here than just speed. Mobile commerce offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage in one-to-one marketing on a broad scale. For merchants, the ability to better serve our customers by knowing better what they expect us to know, what they bought from us, when they bought it and what for. To be able to tailor offers to them that can be delivered and redeemed in real time on their phone is something that’s been coveted for years. And consumers have waited just as long for the prospect of consistently relevant offers from the places they regularly shop. Mobile commerce brings all of that closer to fruition.

Mobile commerce also lets the shopping experience begin well before the consumer ever sets foot in the store, and it also enrichens that experience with product information, ratings and reviews. And – here’s the best part — all of this can be achieved while making payments more secure than they are today. Yes, there have been some early problems, including a significant one involving Google Wallet. But the status quo is not some sort of security utopia. Take a look at what you are spending on fraud losses now.

The fact is, mobile-payments can incorporate PINs and other technology (EMV) that will make payments far more secure than they are today, when we are relying on 1950s technology to protect our financial data, and are so accustomed to paying constantly for its imperfections that we forget how poor the current system is. European consumers payments are much better protected via EMV, Chip and PIN then U.S. consumers with current systems, but why should that continue in the next world of mobile payments.

Mobile commerce has the potential to improve security, improve our relationship with our customers and improve the convenience factor of shopping in our stores.

That’s why Best Buy is going mobile.

How about you?

Mark Williams is president of financial services at Best Buy, an owner of Merchant Customer Exchange.


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NPD: More consumers to spend same or more this holiday versus last year

BY Marianne Wilson

Port Washington, N.Y. — The majority of consumers intend to spend the same (67%) this holiday season than last year, and 10% plan to spend more while fewer that say they plan to spend less, according to the NPD Group’s 11th Annual Holiday Survey.

“Looking at this year’s responses, I see a light at the end of the tunnel with more consumers telling us they plan to ‘spend about the same’ and less planning to ‘spend less’,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “While consumer confidence seems to be up retailers will still face some challenges. They will need to develop creative ways to lure shoppers into the stores.”

Owing to the upcoming election, overall the holiday shopping season will be off to a late start, the report said. While more consumers last year started already by this time, this year there will be an increase in the number of consumers who will begin their shopping before Thanksgiving.

“Consumers and the media will be thinking about the election more than shopping, but when the election is over consumers will get into the holiday spirit,” Cohen said,

There is an increase of 1% to 2% in the number of consumers planning to shop at Off-Price Retailers, Drug Stores, and Specialty Stores this year versus last. Off-Price Retailers and Specialty Stores also did better than Catalogs/Mail Order on the list.

“Retailers at all levels are likely to be challenged this year with the channel lines increasingly becoming blurred. Among the competition for traditional retailers this year are Drug Stores and Supermarkets,” said Cohen. “Now that consumers are less attracted to sale prices and more attracted to selection as well as convenience, stocking the right items will be essential to drive foot traffic.”

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Sears Holdings received EPA SmartWay Excellence Award

BY Marianne Wilson

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings received a SmartWay Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for being an industryleader in freight supply chain environmental performance and energy efficiency.

In addition, 100% of Sears Holdings more than 20+ freight carriers are SmartWay program partners as well.

The EPA SmartWay partnership is a public/private collaboration between the US EPA and the freight transportation industry that helps freight shippers, carriers, and logistics companies improve fuel-efficiency and save money.

“We are honored to have received this distinguished environmental award as our company remains focused on supply chain optimization leading to fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and increased supply chain sustainability,” said Raj Pankar, senior VP and president, supply chain, Sears Holdings. “This commitment by the SmartWay program enables companies, such as Sears Holdings, to continue to strive towards improved standards year-over-year.”

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