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Dell exec: Mobile payments will be driven by consumers

SAN DIEGO – A Dell executive at the Mobile Shopping Spring Summit said that consumers do not care what form mobile payments take as long as it is simple.

Mobile executives spoke on the “What’s Next For Mobile Payment” session about the changing role of mobile payments and which technology is the next big thing. The panel was moderated by Dekkers Davidson, head of mobile business at Barclaycard U.S., Wilmington, DE.

“From a consumer standpoint, they are not concerned with how mobile payments are delivered, they just care about how simple it is,” said Brandon McGee, director of global mobile at Dell, Round Rock, TX.

“But I think it is going to take a monumental advance to force people to use mobile or they will be left behind,” he said.

Mobile electronics?
Dell does not have retail locations and focuses solely on digital sales, making mobile a way to help partners develop leads that lead to sales.

To help put the consumer in control, Dell laptops feature a service code on the bottom of products that users can scan to access warranty information or additional content. This helps consumers troubleshoot problems on their own.

For some of Dell’s consumers, mobile might be the only touchpoint that a consumer has with the brand, making consumers’ expectations high.

As an example of companies that are using mobile in ways that make sense for their businesses, pizza companies have been quick to use features such as gaming and ordering to give users a fun experience that still focuses on the brand.

“It is important to turn to the customer experience to find what makes for a compelling experience,” Mr. McGee said.

In order to understand what consumers are looking for in their mobile experience, reaching out to users for feedback can be a great way to get a grasp on a brand’s demographic.

Mr. McGee also said that he believed that HTML5 will be an area to watch with its scalability and flexibility.

Despite all the bells and whistles in the mobile industry, in order to be successful brands need to think about the consumer first, according to an executive from United Airlines.

“The biggest benefit with mobile is the convenience to the customer,” said Jared Miller, managing director of self-service and emerging technology at United, Chicago.

“Our job is to help travelers get through the airport as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said.

Although mobile has a huge opportunity to revolutionize the way that consumers book tickets, it can also be used to help users streamline their traveling experience. For example, by using location-based services, an airline might be able to redirect users to another flight while they are in the airport.

Four to five years ago, the goal behind mobile was to speed consumers as quickly as possible through the booking process. Nowadays, consumers expect more, per the executive.

United originally built its strategy around mobile boarding passes, which lets consumers show a 2D bar code on their devices as a paperless boarding ticket.

The company launched its first apps in October 2010 during the same time that United was merging with Continental. Getting consumers who had already downloaded and used the Continental app for the United app was difficult.

As far as new technologies, Mr. Miller believes that NFC could be a powerful resource for the company, but not necessarily for payments. Instead, NFC could be used to help mobile users share and interact with content as a way to further interact with a brand.

In-store companion
Although commerce can be a way for brands to leverage their mobile efforts, it does not make sense for every brand, according to Katie Grisko, senior business systems analyst of ecommerce at Petco Animal Supplies, San Diego.

For an old-school retailer such as Petco, finding ways to include mobile into inventory and help consumers find what they are looking for can be a challenge.

To overcome it, the retailer is looking for ways to equip sales associates with mobile tools to help in-store consumers.

In the long run, mobile is not only a tool to help consumers, it also puts shoppers in control of their experience.

HTML5 could prove to be a powerful force for marketers to finally put to rest the debate between mobile Web versus app, per the exec.

Location also lends itself to real-time offers and services to give users an incentive for coming in-store.

Finding the right formula for a brand’s mobile strategy is crucial to getting the right type of interaction from consumers, per the executive.

“For us, mobile is less about commerce and more about being a linchpin for our community to let customers to do things inside a store,” Ms. Grisko said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York