Retailers want a bigger seat at the payments table as more consumers use mobile devices to shop and pay. That was the main message Monday morning during a Money 20/20 session in Las Vegas.
Five treasury and payments executives from five retailers—Ahold, Etsy, The Home Depot, Walmart and The Wendy’s Co.—said so much of what’s changing in payments stems from the brains of vendors, processors, networks and terminal manufacturers, not merchants. But as e-commerce and payments become more closely intertwined, retailers want a larger, and earlier, say in payments innovations.
“Payments has evolved a lot in the last three or four years,” said Gavin Waugh, Wendy’s vice president and treasurer. In the immediate past, a new terminal “might show up at the door, and the I.T. guy turned it on,” he said. Now, though, the payments industry would benefit from retailers sharing their views about customer experiences and expectations. Waugh pointed to the example of near field communication, a contactless payment technology that’s long been considered “cool” by technology fans and payments experts, but would offer a “terrible customer experience” for drive-through fast food transactions, he contends.
Reed Luhtanen, senior director of payments strategy at Walmart, which recently rolled out its Walmart Pay mobile payment service to its 4,600 U.S. stores, noted that the chain’s goal in the coming years is to offer what it calls “seamless commerce,” through which customers can shop, pay and direct shipping through a unified experience. “We would fail [at that] if business relationships and considerations prevent us from getting there,” he said. “So much about this is not about the technology but about the various interests not being aligned.”
Moderator Liz Garner, vice president of the Merchant Advisory Group, a retail association, amplified that point: “Include us in the conversation,” she said. “Talk to us from the ground up, so you know what our customer experience is.”
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