A New Kind of Seamless

Mobile commerce delivers the ease and instant gratification that consumers crave and is the driving force behind business innovation.
September 09, 2019

The interview was written with support from P97, a NACS Hunter Club company, and features a Q&A with P97 Founder and CEO Don Frieden.p97-logo-lg-(1).png 

MORE CUSTOMERS ARE COMFORTABLE PAYING VIA MOBILE DEVICES THESE DAYS, YET MOST RETAILERS AREN’T OFFERING THAT KIND OF FRICTIONLESS PAYMENT EXPERIENCE.

Customers remain loyal to retailers that provide an unparalleled, efficient consumer experience, and mobile payments are essential to the delivery of that journey. It is seamless, secure and paperless, but despite the demand, many retailers are still wary of mobile, largely due to the cost and perceived complexity of app development, processing mobile payments, consumer adoption and, of course, fraud prevention. But by embracing change and supporting the on-demand convenience economy, merchants can win new customers, increase site visits, boost basket sizes and encourage customer loyalty.

FULLY UNDERSTANDING THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY CAN HELP RETAILERS GET INTO CUSTOMERS’ MINDS. HOW CAN RETAILERS MAXIMIZE CUSTOMER TIME AT THE PUMP AND IN THE STORE EVEN BEFORE THEY REACH THE STORE OR AFTER THEY LEAVE?

Historically, the convenience and fuel retailing industries have struggled to drive customer loyalty. Conventional wisdom held that shopper’s decisions to buy commodity items such as motor fuels, beverages and tobacco products were driven by immediate need and low prices, so loyalty became conflated with trips.

However, research collected by the NACS Consumer Tracking Program from tens of thousands of shopper intercepts at convenience stores indicates that nearly half (48.5%) of purchase decisions are made before shoppers ever enter a store, another 41.8% of purchase decisions are made on the way to a store, and just 9.8% of decisions are made in stores. Further, according to NACS State of the Industry data, top performers discovered over a decade ago that commodity pricing was a poor way to position their growing foodservice offers.

Engaging today’s connected, market-savvy consumer through a sea of competing retail offers requires an understanding of their behavior—and targeted offers that matter to them at the right time. Beyond possessing the right corner of real estate and marketing low prices, the levers of future success include timely targeted messaging, activity-based personalization and flexible distribution of promotional offers to tailor a customized, frictionless retail experience to individual shoppers.

Understanding customer behavior enables retailers to deliver a unique shopping experience that attracts and retains customers. Through multi-modal marketing, retailers can connect with customers through push notifications, in-app messages, email and social media to increase engagement and encourage offer redemption that boosts sales.

Rewards programs are also a great way to generate customer loyalty. Loyalty points earned on purchases that reward customers with 25% off their next fill-up or a free drink with their next in-store purchase, incentivize brand loyalty. It is through this customer engagement platform that mobile enables a higher share of consumer spending that earns merchants the competitive advantage in the convenience industry.

WITH SO MANY MOBILE AND FRICTIONLESS OPTIONS TO BE DISTRACTED BY, HOW CAN A RETAILER DETERMINE WHAT’S WORTH PURSUING?

With the increasingly competitive landscape, the push to evolve with consumer demand is evident for retailers to remain relevant. However, many retailers are still intimidated by the complexities of mobile commerce. Designing and developing a mobile app, processing payments safely, integrating with the right mobile wallets and point-of-sale systems, all while ensuring it is an enjoyable customer experience and their investment is adopted can be daunting.

First things first: Understanding your pain points, where you’re looking to change or improve your business, identifying your desired speed to market and scale of investment can help to establish a baseline to begin to prioritize. Then, partner with a platform provider whose solution is proven, secure and can grow with you. Diversity is key to adapting to the everchanging technology environment. Choosing a partner with unlimited integration options ranging from payments, fleet, loyalty, point of sale and fuel systems is essential to long-term success.

Retailers that embrace a frictionless mobile payment experience can thwart the efforts of fraudsters to use skimmers on unattended pumps—since no swipe is required. To the extent that customers embrace mobile payments with payment credentials stored securely in PCI and DSS compliant vaults, the need for costly and onerous EMV upgrades may be diminished. The 2020 liability shift applies to transactions completed using card readers, so focusing on activating consumers with mobile payments will substantially reduce potential liability due to EMV.

APIs ARE DRIVING A NEW WAVE OF INNOVATION BY REDUCING BARRIERS TO CHANGE AND GROWING BUSINESS BY SHARING SERVICES. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF APIs IN P97’S BUSINESS?

Our API platform minimizes friction for our clients as they seek to deliver the frictionless mobile commerce experience. Through our API platform, we manage the complexities of integrating leading oil companies and convenience stores with cloud-based payment systems, point-of-sale systems, digital marketing services, loyalty programs, location services and more (e.g., auto manufacturers) to provide a safe and seamless mobile commerce experience.

By connecting industry leaders across multiple dimensions, each partner benefits from the improvements made to another partner’s technology. This process reduces downtime due to software updates and ensures efficiency between partner integrations. Backed by Microsoft’s security platform, our API provides a simplified, secure and seamless experience for all partners involved. It is the collaborative approach we strive to deliver in order to remain good citizens within the industry.

This interview originally appeared in NACS Magazine. For more interviews and insights from NACS, be sure to visit www.nacsmagazine.com.

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