CVS to accept mobile payments through flagship app
- Drugstore chain CVS Health announced that it will start accepting in-store payments through its existing mobile application, with USA Today reporting it will launch the effort in markets including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware before mounting a nationwide rollout by the end of the year.
- The new CVS Pay feature will be integrated into the retailer's flagship CVS Pharmacy app alongside ExtraCare loyalty rewards and prescription drug pickup capabilities. To use CVS Pay, customers first add their credit or debit card in the CVS Pharmacy app. When they are ready to check out, they'll show the CVS store associate the barcode in their app: The associate will scan the barcode, ring up the purchase, and process the payment.
- Research from eMarketer shows that nearly one in five Americans are expected to use smartphones to make in-store purchases this year, which amounts to about 37.5 million users, up 62% over 2015.
CVS, along with Wal-Mart and several other retailers, had been involved in the CurrentC payment app consortium, until that project stalled in recent months. Now, like Wal-Mart, CVS is choosing to pour its payment app energies into a native app.
Why as a retailer should you go your own way with a native, branded payment app, rather than trusting one or more of a dozen different payment apps from different technology companies to do the job for you? As consultant Richard Crone suggested recently to Retail Dive, retailers are beginning to realize the payment process is another connection point with shoppers, and another opportunity to effectively manage and improve the customer relationship.
It's also another way to put their brand on display and have it equate with technology innovation, and not just products sitting on a shelf. An association with technology innovation has done wonders for Amazon, so why not for CVS and Wal-Mart?
Ultimately, it sounds like retailers may start to get picky about the payment options they support, as a National Retail Foundation/Forrester Research survey showed this week that about 68% of retailers may only support one or just a few mobile digital wallet options.
These native apps still have to show acceptance and usage. It may help that CVS doesn't yet support payment apps like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. It's giving CVS Pay a clear opportunity to gain traction. If it doesn't pan out, there will be more than a few payment apps ready to take its place.