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Bass Pro Shop exec: Speed is linchpin in driving mobile conversions

NEW YORK –  A Bass Pro Shops executive at the NRF 103rd Annual Convention & Expo said as mobile traffic continues to grow, speeding up checkout will be the determining factor in increasing conversions for retailers.

During the “Payments New Role in the Digital Economy” session, executives from Bass Pro Shops and Walgreeens as well as a former executive from Saks Fifth Avenue spoke about the intersection of digital payments and marketing and the opportunities that the two bring up. The session was moderated by Craig Vosburg, group executive of United States market development at Mastercard, Purchase, NY.

“Our mobile traffic to our site is exploding, and digital wallets have been a key part in that in the past couple of years,” said Stan Lippelman, vice president of marketing at Bass Pro Shops, Springfield, MO.

“The traffic from mobile devices is growing rapidly, but the conversion rate on mobile is dramatically lower than what you’re paying on the desktop,” he said. “Part of it is the browsing nature of mobile that’s you’re just looking, you might be in the store, you might be price checking.

“What digital wallets are allowing people to do is to get rid of a ton of keystrokes when they’re checking out so that they can checkout a lot quicker, which makes the conversion much easier on a mobile device, and we believe that is going to drive the conversion rates on mobile much higher in the coming years if that continues to take a footing as people get more comfortable with the security. The big thing is speeding up that mobile checkout is really huge.”

Hooking mobile sales
Bass Pro Shops launched PayPal as a payment option in 2012. Mr. Lippelman cited a higher mix of new customers versus existing customers using the technology as a key learning so far.

This suggests that mobile wallets are gaining scale, and consumers are increasingly comfortable checking out via their mobile devices inside stores.

Then in 2013, the retailer was part of the initial launch of Mastercard’s MasterPass technology that streamlines mobile and digital checkouts by linking a Mastercard account to a credit card.

Bass Pro Shops are packed with activities, including bowling and aquariums, and the typical shopper spends three to four hours in a store, per Mr. Lippelman.

Therefore digital and mobile are used primarily to enhance experiences and the passion that consumers already have with the brand.

For example, Bass Pro Shops also has a couple of digital catalog apps, one of which includes how-to content, articles and videos on a fishing topic.

Although digital wallets have racked up quite a bit of hype in the past couple of years, there is still quite a bit of consumer adoption and awareness that still needs to happen for digital wallets to scale this year.

“As more people sign-up for MasterPass, as PayPal is able to be used in more places, as Google Wallet is able to be used in more places, I think it becomes another tool in your wallet that you can use,” Mr. Lippelman said.

A Bass Pro Shops digital catalog

Building up on loyalty?
Walgreens made its first foray into loyalty a little more than a year ago with its Balance Rewards program.

Mobile, digital and social play a key role in acquiring new customers and tracking their purchases.

To date, there are 90 million Balance Rewards members, and 74 million are active members.

Another way that Walgreens is trying to stay competitive and relevant to consumers is through integrating its API into third-party photo and medical apps.

For example, Walgreens has its API tied into several photo apps so that consumers can place photo orders straight from their mobile devices and then pick them up in-store.

When it comes to mobile payments, Walgreens takes a test-and-learn approach, according to Dan Morrell, assistant treasurer at Walgreens, Deerfield, IL.

The retailer is piloting Google Wallet in five markets but is still waiting for the payment space to shake out.

“The key [with mobile wallets] is that [the value] needs to be greater than just payment,” Mr. Morrell said.

“Payment today through cards is fairly efficient, and there’s a lot of muscle memory into that — that behavior needs to change,” he said.

“So there’s going to have to be some trigger that drives people to a mobile wallet beyond just the payment mechanism.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York