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Harris Teeter pilots mobile wallet to speed up grocery checkout

Mid-Atlantic grocery chain Harris Teeter is testing a mobile wallet system to allow consumers to pay for groceries ordered online.

With the help of Paydiant, the company will first roll out an application called HT Express Pay at the store’s location in Matthews, NC. If the pilot goes well, Harris Teeter will expand the system to other locations.

“Whether the goals are different or not, in essence what we’re seeing is part of a general trend where consumers are interacting with their favorite brands through their mobile devices,” said Chris Gardner, cofounder of Paydiant, Wellesley, MA. “When you look at retailers, many of whom haven’t been innovators, they are now very quickly jumping on the mobile bandwagon for all sorts of consumer interactions.”

“Part of marketing to consumers is helping them conduct transactions and use that to provide better service for customers,” he said. “[It’s about saying,] ‘Hey look our customers are asking to interact on mobile, and we want to do to that.’”

“In the case of Harris Teeter in particular, in general there’s clearly a convenience benefit.”

Express pay
HT Express Pay will allow consumers to pay for groceries they ordered online by driving up to the Express Lane curbside pick-up and paying via the application.

The supermarket chain already offered the ability to order groceries online and pick them up in a drive-thru lane. The mobile wallet will add an additional convenience of being able to pay more quickly at the drive-thru lane.

Harris Teeter employees will have a Verifone mPOS device, and if a consumer chooses to pay via mobile, the employee will present the consumer with a QR code on the Verifone device.

Consumers can then open the app on their phones and scan the QR code to pay. Once they scan, they can confirm the payment method and tap the “pay” button.

A digital receipt will automatically be sent to the consumer’s mobile device.

Harris Teeter also plans to accept other forms of Paydiant-powered mobile wallets in addition to its own branded wallet.

Mobile wallets
A number of banks and financial organizations have been coming out with mobile wallets.

For example, Discover’s Pulse also partnered with Paydiant to roll out a mobile wallet that would enhance transaction experiences for consumers (see story).

Harris Teeter is taking a unique approach by making a branded wallet for a grocery chain.

ShopRite has also launched its own mobile commerce app that lets users place an order and schedule a time for delivery or pick-up (see story)

One of the big drives for adopting mobile payment systems in grocery stores such as Harris Teeter is the frequency with which consumers visit the stores.

Consumers tend to go grocery shopping multiple times a week, so being able to cut down on time and pay quickly by scanning a code is a huge benefit.

While Harris Teeter’s pilot program does not include loyalty, that clearly would be a good addition for the company to make. Grocery shoppers are prime targets of couponing and loyalty, and combing that with the payment process would greatly simplify the shopping experience.

“It adds a whole bunch of benefits for grocery shoppers,” Mr. Gardner said. “You have to hand them your key to swipe your rewards card. That can be built into a mobile phone. It can join loyalty in payment in one motion.

“Harris Teeter in particular has a sophisticated demographic, it’s a higher end supermarket, I think their consumers expect them to be innovative,” he said.

“Supermarkets in particular, you have a complex point-of-sale process. People are typically buying lots of items, and combining it with loyalty and coupons. Mobile can dramatically simplify it.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York