Digital data is one thing, and mobile apps do pretty well in appealing to high-value customers, but integration is the real trick. The ability to tie it all together into one friction-free experience can save time and boost revenue.
That’s the thinking behind the newest U.S. patent awarded to CARDFREE, a mobile wallet provider, which recently made news when it struck a deal with Dunkin’ Donuts that gives the chain a “perpetual license to the software used to build and operate the (Dunkin’) mobile ordering and payment platform.”
The state of mobile wallet technology and development, along with the benefits of that patent, were the topics of a recent PYMNTS interview between Karen Webster and CARDFREE CEO and Founder Jon Squire.
The patent (No.10,002,366) covers technology that enables consumers to transact with everything in their wallet — that includes coupons, payments and loyalty programs — in a single action or one scan/tap. Instead of, say, having to find an email containing a coupon code, loyalty card or credit card while waiting in a checkout line, or having to scan multiple bar codes, a shopper could use the technology to more efficiently perform such actions via a single scan at the point of sale (POS) or a single “check-in” on the cloud.
That not only saves the consumer’s time, but avoids slow-downs in the checkout lane — and fewer retail traffic jams usually mean more revenue for retailers. Squire likened the old ways of accessing those offers to one of the most familiar forms of frustration known by older consumers.
“It was like pulling out a checkbook in the line at a grocer,” he told Webster.
The award of this latest patent for CARDFREE — another one ties together reservations, payment data and credit authorization in service of quicker, more secure transactions — comes as the San Francisco-based firm spreads its wings and seeks more work with channel partners, fuel and convenience stores, grocers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, noted Squire.
“With our integration at the point of sale, it makes promos and tracking consumers across different retailers very interesting, and it ties back to CPGs,” he said.
The process is designed to work seamlessly, he added.
Take an example of a Dunkin’ Donuts transaction, for instance. A consumer who is buying a ready-to-drink iced coffee from one of the chain’s locations, using the Dunkin’ app, might be entitled to a discount from The Coca-Cola Company, which bottled that beverage. The idea is to make sure that this all happens in the background of the app via the CARDFREE software, eliminating the need for the customer to press multiple buttons or even remember to ask for the discount.
The patent points the way forward for mobile wallets, Squire said. Integration of this sort remains relatively rare in the world of mobile commerce and payments, but that will change, and the increasing popularity of mobile order-ahead provides an example of why.
Order-ahead is among the hottest trends in eCommerce, with all types of restaurants tapping into the technology, as discussed in depth in the latest PYMNTS Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker. During the interview with Webster, Squire recalled how it wasn’t until recently that merchants considered order-ahead to be a vital part of their commerce offerings.
“Now, every merchant knows they have to have it,” he said. “If they don’t, they look [like] they are in the 1990s.”
Integration, he said, will come to have a similar place in retail.
That might take a bit of time, of course, given how the world of mobile commerce and payments — all those apps, tools, features and ways to pay — is becoming, in Squire’s words, “messier and more encompassing.” Besides that, mobile wallet providers in the United States, in his view, do not a have a good track record of working closely with merchants, and have been gun shy about providing the services themselves. In addition, many retailers themselves remain uneducated about the benefits of integration.
Squire added, “International players like Rakuten, especially with the acquisition of Curbside, have shown an understanding that more than payment needs to be part of the core offering.”
Retailers, though, are gaining a greater understanding of mobile-wallet use, as well as the payment, discount and loyalty data they provide about customers and their behavior.
“The market is finally getting there about integration being an elegant way to interact with consumers,” Squire said.