Smart Takes

Can mobile wallet tech save retail stores?

Posting in Architecture

Britons are 'no longer willing to queue' according to government research. Could mobile technology help struggling retailers stay afloat?

Research from YouGov, an international market research agency, indicates that retailers are potentially losing millions of customers due to increasing reluctance of consumers to queue.

There is nothing more annoying sometimes. You go in to a store, choose a pair of jeans (after the usual myriad of choices on offer -- straight leg? skinny? boyfriend? flare? wide? low?), wait 20 minutes for the dressing room, come back, and the queue is as long as the shop and full of annoyed parents with complaining and crying children. My usual attitude is to either leave the store or take note of the item and purchase it online later.

In order to explore how many transactions are lost due to long queues, the agency surveyed consumers with hypothetical shopping scenarios. The consumers asked were based in the UK.

The research shows that:

  • 59 percent of shoppers are not prepared to wait in a queue for long periods of time.
  • 32 percent of annoyed customers would turn to online retailers if faced with the prospect of queuing.
  • 18 percent would go to an alternative shop.

When it comes to queues in shops, consumers believe that it is those in charge of the store who are to blame:

  • 89 percent cited not having enough staff members as the main cause of queues.
  • 23 percent believe payment methods that take too long are another major factor.

Increasing staff costs, especially within the current economic climate, is not necessarily a viable option in which to cut down queue length and entice more consumers to purchase goods. However, the range of contactless payment methods now on offer for retailers may help cut down the length of queues in a more feasible way.

Time is a valuable resource -- and the need for speed, quick access and convenience is changing attitudes of consumers across the West.

YouGov's mobile 'wallet' technology survey (.pdf) is a quarterly study that concerns use of mobile 'wallet' methods, NFC and contactless payment. The organisation interviewed 2,927 respondents over the age of 18 in 2011 for this study. According to the research, almost 21 million customers are lost every year, as people become impatient when queuing for purchases, and may turn to alternative places to purchase goods.

When asked why consumers used contactless payment methods, the following reasons were cited:

  • 74 percent stated convenience.
  • 63 percent named speed of payment.
  • 59 percent believe it is an easier method than paying with cash or credit cards.

YouGov's Russell Feldman, Associate Director who manages the Mobile Wallet study said:

"Our research suggests some shoppers are ready to try out mobile wallet payments, so high street retailers have a real opportunity to tackle the queues by adopting contactless technology. The current economic climate could be the catalyst to go contactless: not only keeping customers satisfied as queues are reduced, but allow retailers to compete more effectively with their online counterparts."

By speeding up payment processes, the adoption of contactless methods may be a way to cut the overall length of queues and slow down a reliance on Internet shopping. Not every brick and mortar company is able to provide this service, so integrating technology in as a longer-term investment may make just enough difference to ensure your profit margins get the boost they need.

Image credit: YouGov

Related on SmartPlanet:

Share this

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure