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Express focuses on customer service with Apple Pay

Express is joining the growing list of retailers to roll out Apple Pay in bricks-and-mortar stores in an attempt to further develop customer service by offering a faster checkout and shortening purchasing lines.

The apparel retailer released the option for Apple Pay in all of its stores worldwide on May 21. Express is hoping to generate a more authentic bond with consumers by making sure its customer service is sufficient, and a large faction of that is checkout lines, which Apple Pay significantly reduces.

“Reducing friction at checkout is a good thing, but the real benefit of accepting Apple Pay is likely on the data side,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “As Apple pushes consumers toward the long-awaited mobile ‘tap to pay’ eureka moment, they are also capturing buying patterns that, if Apple Pay takes off, will be a goldmine for retailers looking to personalize their mobile offerings.

“The ‘cool factor’ will probably drive early use of Apple Pay and they are targeting retailers that align with the demographic that owns iPhones, but the more-important element of Apple Pay is that it changes consumer behavior,” he said. “This has always stymied NFC adoption in the US but with Apple on the case, consumers might discover the time-saving benefits of tapping their phone rather than fumbling for a credit card and it’s fraud prone low-tech mag strip.

Customer experience
While paying for items customers use their phones for transacting rather than taking out their credit card. The service is available to those that own iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple Watch.

To use the feature customers hold the device to the contactless reader while pressing their thumb to the print scanner or for the Apple Watch, pressing the side button twice.

The retailer is focusing on assuring consumers of the security of the feature, which is one of the main concerns users have with Apple Pay. Once the user enters her credit card number, it does not save the actual number but generates a new unique Device Account Number.

The number is encrypted and stored securely in her device. If the device is ever stolen Apple’s Find My iPhone feature can prevent access to important information.

Express introducing Apple Pay is an important part of its plan to offer its customers the best shopping experience possible. The better the experience in store the more likely shoppers are willing to consistently return.

All these different factions of a brand together creates a lasting impression on consumers. Brands want to do everything possible to make that image a positive one to draw in customers and keep them coming back.

Apple Pay evolution
The apparel retailer’s main demographic skews younger and introducing new technology such as Apple Pay is a significant component in staying current with millennials.

However, checkout problems stemming from insufficient equipment investment and a lack of employee training in Apple Pay have raised questions about the technology’s long-term viability in mobile in-store payments, notwithstanding the buy-in it has received from a growing number of financial institutions, card networks and software companies (see more).

But a Capital One executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2015 predicted a mass shift to Apple Pay this year and the decline of magnetic stripe payments as more consumers carry their phones on their persons at all times (see more).

“Any brand that is not looking to try new ways to engage via mobile at every stage of the buying process is going to be left behind,” Mr. Kerr said. “The winners have years of trial and error datapoints to lean back on and, as mobile commerce takes off and consumers see their phones and wallets slowly merging together, the retailers who were pushing ahead early will win.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily