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Will MCX payment system deliver real value for shoppers?

Phone with moneyWe’ve been watching the news about the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) – a new, multi-retailer initiative to develop a mobile wallet for shoppers. The scale is impressive – the retailers involved so far do more than a trillion dollars in annual sales – but how much the new Exchange can accomplish is an open question. A strong advantage for shoppers should be that it lowers the cost of payment.  As a recent NY Times article reports, some believe that no one is in a better position than large retailers to lead this change, but others think that there are so many other initiatives under way (Square, Google, Microsoft, credit card companies, phone carriers . . .) that MCX will find it hard to get out in front to drive mainstream adoption.
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Lookout

New payment frontiers. Why go there?

Phone zips moneyPaying with your phone can create a gee whiz moment for shoppers like the one that Miguel Helft describes in a recent Fortune article on the state of pay-by-phone technology. Unique and different? We’ll buy that. And the mobile wallet will simplify things for shoppers – at least that’s the grand vision. But we’ve got a question: Is this what shoppers really want? Will they see and appreciate the benefits?
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Walmart: Shop online, pay with cash

WalmartStep2Walmart’s pay with cash option fits the needs of people who can’t or would prefer not to pay with plastic. You shop online, pay with cash in-store within 48 hours, and then the merchandise ships. It’s a helpful response to the increasingly bi-polar, high-end/low-end marketplace. It also reminds us that there are more “degrees of freedom” in the payment system than most people think about - e.g. you can pay before, during, or after you make a purchase.

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Lookout

Suddenlee: 300 retailers, one checkout, one delivery

Colorful BagsSuddenlee offers a unique twist for shoppers in the Northeast part of the US: They will literally go to the store for you - at about 300 retailers. Drag the Suddenlee button to your browser bar and start shoping online for in-store items at big names like Target. AnnTaylor, Zara, TopShop, and Sephora, and Suddenlee will do the running around. Shoppers get the convenience  of one order, one checkout, one shipment, and next-day delivery for the NE – all for the same price most retailers charge for regular shipping.
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Blog Post

Updating the shopper value equation

Here’s a challenge I see: Every retailer needs to decide how they are going to deliver more value in the “new normal” marketplace, a place where shopper expectations are high, limits on disposable income are real, and technology delivers nearly limitless possibilities. A CEO I respect said not long ago, “It’s not yet clear to me which way to take our company.”  I sense many of his peers are in a similar situation. There are no maps, and without some guidance, we’re likely to wander around for a while. One way to establish direction is to go back to a familiar reference point and modify it to work better in today’s world. I suggest we update the shopper value equation. Here’s a draft set of ideas about what’s needed to deliver value to 21st century shoppers for discussion, feedback, and improvement.
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Blog Post

Rethinking retail basics

Something new is happening in retailing – to retailers. Shoppers still want easy access to products they want to buy when they want to buy them. What’s new is that innovators are aggressively rethinking some basic elements of the retail business model. Here’s what I’m seeing: retailers rethinking access, retailers responding to new demand drivers, and retailers taking new approaches to availability. To me, there are enough connectable dots to indicate that we’re approaching a major expansion in the range of ways we serve shoppers. Do you see what I see?
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Lookout

Text to buy fresh local produce

We like to keep an eye on the text-to-buy space. Now someone’s come up with Fresh List "a text-based marketplace” designed to help people buy and sell fresh, local produce in real time. The app makes it possible for sellers to list their inventory and buyers to access the lists (20 apples, anyone?). When the buyer wants to make a purchase, the seller receives a text with the buyer’s number. GPS tells them where each other are located.
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