With about 235 million Americans using mobile devices (about 50%), according to Comscore, and smartphone usage as ubiquitous as a cold can of beer, it’s easy to see why some retailers are jumping on the mobile-commerce bandwagon.
With the growing popularity of PayPal, Square and mobile payment options, retailers are realizing the value in making shopping easier for consumers. Market newcomers, such as Flint, are paving the way for smaller merchants with innovative technologies.
In search of more mobile options, c-stores, including 7-Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, QuikTrip and a host of other retailers, are joining the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) platform. This relatively new mobile application is designed to usher in a flexible solution that will offer merchants a customizable platform with the features and functionality needed to best meet consumers’ needs. The m-commerce solution is something that will work seamlessly with most smartphones.
MCX, which will feature a bar code- and cloud-based mobile-commerce experience once completed, is a new company forged by some leading merchants nationwide on a mission to blend the convenience of paying at the register with customizable offers.
Though the concept of MCX makes sense for the retail market, especially for the fast-pace needed at c-stores, it’s still a work in progress. MCX hasn’t committed to an exact launch date yet, but merchant interest is escalating because the need is there. Dodd Roberts, a senior executive vice president for MCX, said that mobile adoption will continue to be slow until there’s something to offer consumers where they shop on a regular basis. And it’s a sizable opportunity. The annual sales for this retail market is more than $1 trillion extending across nearly every vertical platform.
Technology is making big waves in back-office services. With lower costs to entry and cloud-based systems that no longer rely on back-room servers, convenience stores are reaping the rewards of interconnectivity among their stores and accessing real-time data at the touch of a button.
Life with back-office systems is something Rita Lindeman, department pricebook manager for the West Coast business of Circle K, knows well. Circle K’s system offers Lindeman a window into the day-to-day activities of each store, from invoicing to daily analysis. She can see the figures generated in real time for transactions, “when and who closed the books, and even if an employee is having problems scanning an item,” she said.