Retailing and mobile wallets

The mobile wallet is a hot topic these days, but going all the way requires a big retail commitment to both equipment and platforms. And how do you time your involvement so that you don't get too far ahead of demand by a critical mass of shoppers? In short:

What's the best way for a retailer to approach the mobile wallet opportunity?

Conversation closed; special thanks to participant Dave Carlson.

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BlackBeltDave Carlson said:
Retailers with loyalty programs get a BOGO with mobile wallet technology. By installing NFC readers at checkout, they'll offer shoppers the option to easily identify and pay using their mobile phone. This will ensure that deals, both mass and personalized, will be properly credited. Payment will likely be secured using a PIN.

While mobile apps (like Key Ring) now allow shoppers to scan their loyalty cards into their phones, bar codes displayed on mobile screens are difficult to read on flatbed scanners. Cashiers and the rest of the shoppers in line don't like the delay of typing in your mobile-displayed card #. NFC solves this problem, letting shoppers finally discard their plastic.

There is clearly a groundswell. The popular estimate is that 50% of mobile phones will be smart phones by the end of this year. Android now ships with NFC, the iPhone 5, to be introduced in the next couple months, may also contain this technology.

Additionally, NFC readers can be placed at the store entrance where shoppers, with E-ZPass simplicity, can get printed personalized content, including offers, club status and more for the current shopping trip. This capability will help retailers finally make the the shopping experience personally relevant, leveraging their loyalty program investments by adding differential value and convenience for their customers.

Retailers are certainly looking at the payment aspects of mobile wallet now. The forward thinking are also considering the loyalty program implications.