Retailers, Meet Google Wallet

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from NPI, a spend management consultancy, focused on delivering savings in the areas of IT, telecom, transportation and energy.

A few weeks ago, I discussed areas where retailers will most likely overspend on mobile payments technology. Earlier this week, Google Wallet was launched as the first major partnership between an IT giant, a device manufacturer and a wireless carrier.

If you're not familiar with mobile payments, the concept is pretty simple: use a mobile device like your smartphone to pay for goods and services. Consumers are ready for this technology advancement. But the jury is still out with many retailers. Some are undecided, others are under-informed and the rest are ready to jump on the bandwagon...but, not immediately.

As my first post pointed out, there is a lot of uncharted territory for retailers when it comes to embracing mobile payments. I recently spoke with James Wester of RetailCustomerExperience.com about why retailers are so hesitant to adopt. The problem is that enablement touches so many facets of the retail organization that it would be risky to move forward without mapping out the full impact on IT budgets, information security, testing and technical support, overall business processes and so on.

Furthermore, the retailer can't implement in isolation -- mobile payments require an integrated ecosystem of retailers, consumers, wireless carriers, device manufacturers and more. It's a simple concept that is pretty complicated to put in place. That said, some retailers will surely get a competitive advantage by taking the plunge and being early adopters.

So, my advice to retailers is this: Decide whether you want to be an early, middle or late adopter; get clarity on the costs and benefits of that decision for your business; start evaluating mobile payments technology; get cracking on how these technologies will impact your critical systems and establish internal alignment on how risks will be managed and success measured as you jump on the bandwagon.

If you want to learn more, here are a few good resources to check out:

  • The Most Important Mobile Payment Infographic Ever: Literally. This infographic gives you a snapshot of what it is, what it is not, different options, the growing demand and more.
  • 2011 KPMG Mobile Payments Outlook: This report gives an excellent overview of the industry from providers to adopters to institutional readiness.
  • MobilePaymentsToday.com: If you're like many of NPI's retail clients, you're probably planning on deploying mobile payments in 2013. If that's the case, it's time to start planning and educating yourself about vendors, developments and other deployments. This website is an excellent resource.

-- Jeff Muscarella, EVP of IT, NPI

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