In an age where cash is in decline, a smartphone is in every pocket or purse and there seems to be an app for everything. Mobile wallets are a convenient, connected alternative to enable an evolved shopping experience. As digital wallets gain popularity in Canada and around the globe, there is an increasing opportunity to explore brand new digital channels to communicate with customers. Getting the execution right, however, depends on marketers who can either hit the bullseye or risk completely missing the mark.

Mobile has become the new front door for retailers. The quality of a retailer’s mobile experience will impact customers’ decision to buy online and even to visit a store in person. A mobile-optimized website is a start, but many retailers are going beyond that and creating their own mobile apps. Apps that let customers complete the entire journey, from research to purchase, without ever leaving are creating true shortcuts and evolving the shopping experience. By integrating a one-tap digital wallet solution like Masterpass into an app, the customer’s payment or shipping information is already loaded, even the first time they use it, making the process even easier and more seamless.

As more and more consumers uncover and experience the benefits of a one-tap digital wallet solution to help with their everyday online shopping, a significant opportunity also presents itself to marketers. Mobile wallets not only allow marketers to communicate with customers directly through retail applications or mobile-responsive websites, but also to start a very specific conversation with them. Mobile wallets will enable marketers to find out more about customer’s preferences—individual details based on a person’s payment history, for example. As a result, the access to this kind of data will enable marketers to deliver value-added services such as loyalty rewards and discounts that are relevant to each individual. As marketers shift their focus from “mass” to “me,” mobile wallets will be a channel of low tolerance to generalized offers, giving way to more targeted, meaningful and local ones.

The frequency in which the engagement between consumer and offerings occur is also an important aspect to be taken into account. How many times a day do you open your physical wallet? Multiple times, I assume. Similarly, with the growth of mobile wallet use and mobile shopping becoming the new norm, the number of interactions customers will have with their digital offerings displayed through their digital wallet could rival the likes of Google or Facebook. The result? A powerful tool to drive interaction and loyalty with individual customers.

As a marketer, having access to a whole new channel of communication with millions of customers at your fingertips is an amazing opportunity. The mobile wallet also offers a much wider span than a merchant-specific application. Take retailer American Eagle, for one. As a customer, I may feel it’s ok if American Eagle communicates with me through their app when I’m interested in engaging with it. However, it may feel odd and give the wrong message if they chose to engage with me when I’m visiting a Shoppers Drug Mart, on the other hand, as I’m not looking for the products they would like to offer me at.

If I’m opening up my wallet and offers are presented to me right as I’m interacting with it, it may feel like a more natural way to engage with me. If American Eagle displays an offer about a 50 per cent sale when I’m in the act of shopping and using my mobile wallet, I may feel inclined to check out the sale, leading to a sale right then and there. That feels more organic to the consumer and demonstrates the value of the mobile wallet being the sharp end of the spear when having conversations with customers.

As we look into the future at the intersection of mobile wallets and digital marketing, I would like to challenge marketers and the retail industry to ask themselves if the right capabilities are in place in order to create offerings that will really stand out from the crowd and speak to customers in a way that actually matters to them—not to everyone else. Mobile wallets are here to stay and should be seen by marketers as a real opportunity for conveying their messages in a meaningful way.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Jason Davies

Jason Davies is vice president and head of digital payments at Mastercard Canada.

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