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Retailers not prioritising mobile are choosing to ignore their customers, says PayPal

PayPal’s director of mobile commerce warns retailers that mobile payments should be a top priority to provide the experience customers want

Choosing not to put mobile strategy as a top priority is a choice to ignore customer needs, according to PayPal’s director of mobile commerce, Rob Harper.

Speaking at the Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE), Harper claimed retailers are struggling to convert customers to purchases on smartphones, despite high mobile traffic.

“If your number one strategy isn’t mobile, be prepared to ignore your customers,” said Rob Harper, PayPal’s director of mobile commerce. “Mobile has revolutionised the way we shop.”

Harper argued that to drive conversion, payment processes in the mobile space should be just as simple as in other channels.

“Mobile is such an important part of our everyday life. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘I’m going to make a payment today’, but we think about what we’re going to buy,” he said. “A poor payment experience, especially when it comes to mobile, can have [a negative] impact on the overall experience.”

UK smartphone users check their devices 110 to 150 times per day, he said, and spend two hours more per day looking at their phone than they do their laptop or PC screen.

Although retailers are doing what they can to cater to the millennial generation, who are comfortable with using these technologies to complete payment transactions, the age of smartphone users is increasing and older customers will expect a different experience.

“Our love affair with the smartphone shows no signs of slowing down,” said Harper. “For 33% of us, our mobile phone is our preferred way of getting online.”

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But retailers are struggling to offer the experience customers expect because of the proliferation of digital technologies in the market.

According to Harper, retailers will often choose not to implement anything through fear of investing in the wrong technology. “They end up doing nothing, which really isn’t an option,” he said.

Retailers are uncertain which organisation is the best digital partner for payments, will offer the best customer experience and will cater to omni-channel retailers – questions Harper admitted are “difficult to answer”.

He suggested all retailers and payment providers work together to tackle single customer journeys and omni-channel customer experience rather than compete, because “in today’s world success cannot be achieved alone” and customers expect a seamless experience.

“Omni-channel in itself is a struggle for us in the industry, but your customers aren’t thinking about omni-channel, they’re simply thinking about shopping,” said Harper.

The need to offer a joined up experience is especially important to millennials, who carry out most of their interaction with brands through their mobile phones and will abandon a purchase if the payment process is “painful”.

“Mobile and digital is the driving force for the future of retail growth,” said Harper. “Those millennials today are your customers now and in the future.”

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