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Technology/Services

War for Convenience: Considering Payment Options

Consumers increasingly more interested in on-site ordering and pay amenities

CHICAGO -- The year is 2018, and a Chicago coffee shop accepts payment by the palm of customers’ hands and a San Francisco deli lets customers pay for their bologna sandwich with bitcoin. Consumers ranked convenient on-site ordering and pay amenities higher in terms of importance than mobile apps, online websites or delivery for foodservice and retail items, according to a CSP/Technomic report.

However, that doesn’t mean retailers need to figure out how to turn a human limb into a form of payment. Consumers are more likely to use comparatively low-tech drive-thru, self-service checkout and in-store kiosks over mobile apps, online ordering/payment and delivery, according to the report. In fact, 85% of consumers say drive-thru for foodservice items improves convenience, and 84% say the same for self-service checkouts.

Which of the following do you use when visiting convenience stores or purchasing items from these locations?

Although convenience stores might have been considered early adopters of kiosks, retailers have found new ways to use the technology to strengthen their connection with customers. Looking to zip up the speed of service, a Wawa location in Philadelphia is testing a mobile kiosk equipped with a barcode scanner, credit-card reader, bagging station and clerk. The Wawa, Pa.-based c-store chain also uses its fleet of kiosks to let customers in on its secret menu.

Guests need only tap Wawa’s goose logo in the corner of the screen to unlock special items, such as strawberry, mango and citrus lemonades for summer. Consumers of all ages seem to appreciate kiosks, with 88% of millennials and 71% of baby boomers saying kiosks enhance a convenient experience.

Building on its reputation for fresh and homegrown foodservice items, York, Pa.-based Rutter’s gives kiosk users the opportunity to customize their orders with ingredients labeled as local.

“The future [of payments] is going to be the car.”

Considering only 13% of total consumers use a c-store app, kiosks offer customers a frictionless ordering option without trying to get a piece of valuable smartphone real estate. Some operators are sidestepping this problem altogether by shifting their attention to vehicles.

 How important or unimportant are the following to you for convenience stores you visit?

“Today, the phone is a proxy to the customer,” says Anand Raman, COO and president of Boston-based PayByCar, an in-vehicle payments solutions company that launched earlier this year. “Very soon, the investment is going to migrate from your phone into your car.”

PayByCar has a partnership with the E-ZPass Group, a transponder brand used in 35 million vehicles in the U.S. By creating separate PayByCar accounts, E-ZPass users can use their transponder to pay without stepping a foot outside their car. Instead of an app, the service confirms payment via text. However, retailers can also link PayByCar’s functionality into their app. While today it’s about more frictionless payments, tomorrow the technology can usher in curbside pickup and more targeted promotions, Raman says.

“The future is going to be the car,” he says. “There’s a long road ahead, but c-stores can establish the relationship today between the customer and the car at their location.”

Next: The Need for Speed

Click here to read the complete War for Convenience report.

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