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Major retailer has plans to make mobile payments essential

December 8, 2015

A generation gap is at least partially to blame for mobile payments gradual acceptance, with younger users embracing the technology more quickly than older generations. But Sears has a plan to make mobile payments the most popular way to shop. 

Mobile payments are the future, but for the moment anyway, the future appears to be pacing itself. Over the past year, 28 percent of smartphone users reported making a mobile payment, according to the Federal Reserve – up from 24 percent in 2013. Why is progress so moderate?  

Mobile payments are catching on
A generation gap is at least partially to blame for mobile payments’ gradual acceptance. Millennials, the newest generation of consumers, are much more comfortable making mobile payments than older age groups. The Consumer Technology Association reported that 70 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 used some form of mobile payment, whereas only 46 percent of respondents older than 35 did so. More than a third of the 18 to 34 demographic said they would be comfortable fully replacing all forms of payment with mobile payments. 

“Millennials rely on technology to allow them to shop in the most personalized and convenient way, and they’ll remain loyal to the brand that recognizes them for their loyalty status,” Don Yee, Boston Retail Partners’ vice president, told Huffington Post. “In a way that loyalty will inspire them to spend more on a shopping trip and shop more often.”

Experts predict mobile payments to become widely popular in the next few years as Millennials grow, but in the meantime, how do retailers expand their mobile services now? Sears has a strategy that other retails are likely to imitate. 

Sears debuts an innovative mobile device strategy 
Mobile payments may not have taken off quite yet this holiday season, but Sears doesn’t expect them to remain quiet for much longer. According to a Dec. 7 press release, the department store chain recently upgraded its mobile payments app with a host of new features, and will now offer mobile in-store customers free shipping.

Sears would like its new mobile app to replace credit cards and cash as preferred payment.Sears would like its new mobile app to replace credit cards and cash as preferred payment.

As further enticement, Sears is offering its Shop Your Way members limited-time rewards and giving consumers $5 in points if they make a purchase worth $15 or more. 

“In 2015, we’ve seen more than a third of our online traffic come from a mobile phone – a 46 percent increase from last year,” said Leena Munjal, Sears Holdings’ senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail.

“Mobile devices are so much a part of our members’ lives and they’re not only researching and sharing, they’re also buying. So it’s more important that ever to have a robust, simple-to-use shopping app with features and services that no other major retailer offers,” Munjal continued.

The changes Sears has made to its mobile app – changes which other major retailers will likely adopt shortly, following Sears’ example – include a new service for members to pick up, return or exchange purchases made online at any Sears store in the country – all at no cost, within five minutes or less, and without ever leaving their vehicle. 

Sears has also instituted a layaway management program, with payments made via the store’s app. In-store shoppers will also now be able to scan products directly using their app. But if that wasn’t enough, Sears hopes that a new system of mobile exclusive eCoupons will further convince customers that mobile payments make for the best and most convenient shopping experience. 

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