Retail Apocalypse Vs. Retail Transformation

Retail Apocalypse Vs. Retail Transformation

This is an article I wrote for Retail Executive magazine…

For retailers who are not well into their transformation to a ubiquitous, real-time retailcustomer journey, the key to survival is to redouble their efforts before the competition puts them out of business.

With a flurry of bankruptcies and store closure announcements in 2017, the “Retail Apocalypse” phrase has become the topic of many conversations. While the doom and gloom of an apocalypse is not likely to be a reality, there is no argument that change, turmoil, and disruption is reshaping the world of retail.

To meet consumer expectations and avoid a potential retail apocalypse, successful retailers are transforming their retail and customer engagement models.

Retailers need to deliver this experience to thrive and, in many cases, increase their store count and profits. Retailers who are successfully meeting these evolving customer expectations are taking a holistic approach to defining their customer’s journey and understand that change is needed at almost every point in their enterprise. Critical focus points for success include optimizing customer engagement, adopting mobile technology, and achieving real-time retail across the enterprise.


Top retailers realize that evolving and improving the way they engage the customer is key to surviving. According to BRP’s 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce survey, 55 percent of retailers indicate that optimizing the customer experience is their top priority. Retailers realize they need a new approach to enable a unified experience, an approach that supports the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, as they engage their customers in a consistent and ubiquitous experience.


Consumers increasingly use mobile devices as a key shopping tool with statistics indicating that a whopping 84 percent of shoppers use their mobile devices in physical stores for competitive shopping, product information, or consulting with friends. For retailers not already leveraging mobile tools, the customer with a mobile device has more information than an employee without a mobile tool. With a wealth of information at consumers’ fingertips, retailers need to equip their store associates with mobile technology to access more information than their customers have. Mobile capabilities enable sales associates to never leave the customer’s side to “find a product or look up something,” which helps avoid customer abandonment, adds personalization, and saves the sale.


To keep the customer as the epicenter of the retail transaction, retailers need to migrate to an environment that offers real-time access to enterprisewide product information, customer preferences, and transaction history across all channels. To meet the new set of customer expectations, modern customer engagement, merchandising, order management, and inventory management systems must be integrated in real time and seamlessly accessible by the sales associate. Top retailers have adopted and implemented a unified commerce platform with real time retail information at the fingertips of their sales associates.

Most retailers are working to meet these rapidly changing customer expectations, as 84 percent of retailers surveyed in the BRP survey indicated they would have real-time retail implemented within three years. Many retailers have implemented some pieces of this future-state requirement, but only the very successful have been able to extend the real-time technology so that it touches the customer consistently across all channels.

While retail is definitely going through challenging times, the transformation is exciting with new technologies and opportunities arising to enhance the customer journey. The next year will bring further transformation driving fundamental changes in retail. The time is now to innovate the customer experience by transforming retail operations for the new customer journey. The future of retail is here — ready or not.

I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Please share your opinions and comments below.


How are Retailers Progressing on the Journey to the “Future Store?”

One year after The Future Store Manifesto was published, BRP issued a scorecard to evaluate how retailers are progressing along the road to the “future store.” The Future Store Manifesto – 2016 Scorecard, sponsored by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, highlights how retailers are changing their initiatives to align with the key future store imperatives: mobile, relevant, personal, ubiquitous and secure.

“It is impressive to see how many retailers are making the five critical elements of the future store a top priority, however, many retailers have a long way to go. The physical store will continue to be the heart and soul of retail operations for the foreseeable future, however, a transformation is in process. While the store isn’t going away, it’s already starting to get a whole lot more connected, mobile and smarter.” – Ken Morris, principal at BRP.

The digital world is infiltrating brick and mortar stores, where consumers are equipped with smartphones and a new set of expectations. Over the past twenty years, many in the retail industry have predicted the demise of the physical store. But the reality is, the store is still the foundation of retailing. It is where the tactile and sensory experience comes together for the consumer. To succeed, retailers are infusing digital features into the store environment to personalize the shopping experience, compete more effectively with online pure-play retailers and exceed customer expectations. The store is not dead, it’s digitized!

“The unified consumer experience is table stakes today, and retailers know it. They don’t question  why they should do unified commerce. They question how – as in, how to break down the silos between digital and store systems to get to the omni-channel use cases. It all starts with a move to a single, real-time view of the consumer, prices and inventory availability across all channels.” –  Eric Olafson, SVP Stores, Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

future_store_manifest_2016_coverHere are a few of the key findings in this special report:

  • Mobile – 78% of retailers plan to use mobile POS to enable associates to complete a customer’s purchase on the sales floor by the end of 2018
  • Relevant – 58% of retailers plan to utilize geolocation within two years
  • Personal – 51% of retailers plan to offer suggested selling based on what is in the customer’s closet by mid-2019 
  • Ubiquitous – 50% of retailers will allow a customer transaction to start anywhere, finish anywhere within five years 
  • Secure – 88% of retailers plan to have end-to-end encryption (E2EE) implemented to ensure data security by 2019

I encourage you to download and read The Future Store Manifesto – 2016 Scorecard:

I hope you enjoy the report. As always, I appreciate your insights and opinions on this topic. Please share your thoughts below.


Why are Retailers Laser Focused on Unified Commerce?

Retail Partners (BRP) conducted the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North American retailers to understand what retailers are currently undertaking to enhance the customer experience and the current state and future plans of unified commerce. This blog post highlights the key findings.

Retail is more complicated than ever! The customer journey is never a linear process – customers want to quickly and easily move across channels to research, shop, and interact with your brand and they expect their journey to be personalized. To complicate this further, the mobilization of retail has spurred the convergence of the digital and physical experience – creating the need for real-time retail. The key to meeting elevated customer expectations is to create a consistent, personalized and satisfying shopping experience wherever, whenever and however they shop. Delivering on that experience requires a different approach that sets the stage for unified commerce.

“The customer journey can be simple or complex and can be different for each customer and each individual purchase. It’s not important that what we have specific labels for these scenarios, like webrooming or showrooming, but simply that we understand that the customer journey is one that is very dynamic and as retailers we have the opportunity to optimize and enhance this experience to drive increased customer loyalty. This is why “start anywhere, end anywhere” cross-channel capabilities are so important, like enabling a unified or shared shopping cart across channels,” said Brian Brunk, principal, Boston Retail Partners.

“Over the last several months we have read stories that indicate malls and traditional in-store retail are dead; however, in reality, retailers like ZARA and Apple are thriving in many of the same mall locations,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “The key difference between retail ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ is the customer experience. Going forward, retail success will be dependent on delivering an exceptional customer experience and without it, retailers will fail.”


2016 Unified Commerce Report CoverKey findings in the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey include:

  • 51% of retailers indicate that creating a seamless and optimized experience across channels is a top priority this year
  • 44% of retailers state that increasing customer loyalty is a focus for the next 12 months
  • 75% of retailers plan to have a single commerce platform within 3 years
  • Nearly 90% of retailers plan to have as part of their unified commerce platform, centralized inventory management, order management system and integrated CRM
  • 89% of retailers indicate that within three years social media will be the predominant forum for interaction with the brand
  • At least 75% of retailers plan to have mobile apps for associates and customers within three years

Download the complete survey report:  2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey

A special thanks goes out to all of the sponsors of the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey: Aptos (platinum), Experian Data Quality (gold), Fujitsu (gold), Manhattan Associates (gold), NCR (gold), PCMS (gold), Radial (gold), and Enactor (silver).

As always, I appreciate your feedback on the this survey report.  I hope you enjoy it!


Unified Commerce is the Goal, but “Faux” Omni-channel is the Reality!

According to a new special report from BRP, retailers recognize the need for a holistic customer experience that transcends channels, but most attempts are falling short. According to the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Unified Commerce is the Goal, “Faux” Omni-channel is the Reality, many retailers have taken the “just get something done” approach over the last few years to attempt to deliver a cross-channel customer experience. The unfortunate result of this quick fix approach is a “faux” omni-channel model that doesn’t execute as promised and risks disappointing customers.

2016_Special_Report_Unified_Commerce_CoverThe industry has now reached a critical point where retailers can no longer afford to operate from within channel silos. They must transform their organization, business processes and technology to align with the demands of their customers. According to BRP’s 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, 85% of the retailers surveyed realize the importance of offering a true unified commerce environment to their customers but most have not reached that goal yet. Only 18% of the retailers surveyed indicate they have implemented a unified commerce/single commerce platform, and two-thirds of those companies indicated that it “needs improvement.”

“Unified commerce goes beyond omni-channel, putting the customer experience first, breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a single commerce platform,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “The idea of a single, centralized, real-time platform for all customer engagement points is a key tenet of unified commerce. A unified commerce platform is not simply the future in-store or web platform, but combines POS, mobile, Web, call center and clienteling into one single integrated platform. It has become the new retail imperative.”

Unified Commerce

Unfortunately, the risk of losing customers due to a disappointing shopping experience caused by flawed omni-channel architecture is deadly – this is why retailers are focusing on “real” unified commerce in 2016.

I encourage you to download and read the full report.


BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Unified Commerce is the Goal, “Faux” Omni-channel is the Reality

I hope you enjoy the report and welcome your comments and feedback. Please share your comments below.


VIDEO: The Future Store – Real-time Retail Changes Everything

We are on the cusp of a significant and fundamental transformation within the store environment. The future store must encompass both worlds – the sensory experience of the physical store combined with the personalization and convenience of online shopping. The most successful retailers will seamlessly blend the physical with the digital in the future store. Retailers can no longer afford to operate from within silos and must transform their technology, business processes, and organization to align with their customers’ expectations.

Watch this video blog post to hear Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners & Eric Olafson, SVP Store Solutions, Demandware, discuss how the store has changed and will continue to change.

Boston Retail Partners & Demandware Talk Stores 2.0 at NRF Big Show

For more information on the transformation of the store, read this white paper:

The Future Store Manifesto

Visit our BRP Videos page to watch videos on other topics.

As always, I appreciate you thoughts on this topic. Please enter your thoughts and comments below.


Houston, We have a Problem! – 2016 POS Survey Identifies Issues with Retail’s Faux Omni-Channel

Retailers recognize the need to create a holistic customer experience that transcends channels, but most attempts are falling short.

85percentAccording to the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, 85% of the respondents indicate that unified commerce is their top priority. Many retailers have taken the “just get something done” approach to deliver a seamless customer experience that transcends channels. The unfortunate result of this quick fix approach is a “faux” omni-channel model that doesn’t execute as promised and has the risk of disappointing customers. While 60% of retailers indicate they have implemented “inventory visibility across channels,” 80% of those retailers indicate that the system “needs improvement.” According to another recent study, this is a real issue, as 60% of click-and-collect orders placed on Cyber Monday had problems.[i]

“Saddled with legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment, retailers have scrambled to cobble things together in attempts to deliver the omni-channel capabilities customers expect. Retailers need to invest in infrastructure, networks and service oriented architecture (SOA) layer and do it right. The risk of losing customers due to disappointing shopping experiences caused by a flawed omni-channel architecture is deadly and that is why “real” unified commerce is retailers’ top priority for 2016.” – Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners

The 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current point of sale and customer engagement initiatives, priorities, and future trends as the physical and digital worlds converge within the store.2016 POS Survey Cover

Key findings in the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey include:

  • Creating a true unified commerce environment is the top priority – 85% of retailers indicated this was a top priority for 2016
  • Improving customer engagement and the customer experience is critical – 68% of retailers indicated this was a focus for the upcoming year
  • Retailers are still occupied with payment/data security – 38% of retailers stated this was a top priority

I encourage you to download and read the complete 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey:

I hope you enjoy the report and welcome any comments or feedback. Please share your comments below.


[i] “Buy online, pick-up in the Store. Simple, right? Not this Christmas,” Washington Post, December 20, 2015.

How are Mobile Devices Transforming the In-Store and Web Customer Experience? Recap Cover ImageAt the Digital Summit 2015, I moderated a retail executive panel on mobile technology and below is a summary of the topics we discussed. For more details, here is a link to the complete recap of the session:

2015 Recap – How are Mobile Devices Transforming the In-Store and Web Customer Experience?

Here are some of the key points discussed during the session…

There has been a huge technology shift in the past few years and mobile technology in the hands of consumers and retail associates has been the driver. Mobile capabilities allow a retailer to break down the barrier between the online digital environment and the physical store. Mobile is driving retailers to upgrade and replace technology to keep ahead of their competitors’ customer experience offerings and to try to keep up with their very informed and technology-savvy customers.

Mobile Technology is an Enabler

MobileEnablerConsumers now use mobile devices to research products, compare prices, complete purchases online and increasingly to pay for in-store purchases. The proliferation of tablets and mobile phones has also created new opportunities for retailers to enhance customer service. Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates enables inventory look-up (enterprise-wide) even for products not immediately available, supports the associate providing assistance to the customer on the selling floor, supports transaction processing anywhere in the store and anywhere in their supply chain.

Mobile is the Future

According to Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, many retailers are focused on expanding their mobile capabilities.

  • 286% more retailers plan to deploy mobile POS in the next two years
  • 165% more retailers plan to offer personalized recommendations via customer-facing mobile in 3 years
  • 56% of retailers plan to accept Apple Pay within 3 years

“The mobile device is the cash register of the future, the sales associate of the future and the wallet of the future – or rather the now!”


Mobile for Customer Identification and Personalization

BeaconsCustomers and their shopping behavior remain anonymous without some type of customer identification. One of the keys to influencing a customer’s purchase and offering a personalized experience is to identify the customer early, as soon as they enter the store. In BRP’s 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, 90% of the retailers surveyed said they were able to identify their customer in the store, which is up significantly from 73% in the 2014 survey. However, in many cases, customer identification is happening at the point of checkout or later, which is too late to influence the current purchase decision.

In BRP’s CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, very few retailers (6%) indicated they have the ability to identify customers when they walk in the store via their smartphone. The bigger story is the 53% who plan to implement this within five years – that’s an 883% increase

Keys to Mobile Success

As discussed in our panel session, here are a few things retailers need to do to successfully deploy mobile capabilities:

  • Create a consistent experience across all channels
  • Know everything about your customer:Customer Information
    • Personal preferences
    • Purchase history
    • Key dates (anniversary, bithdays,etc.)
    • What’s in their closet?
    • Where did they browse?
    • Did they abandon an online cart?
  • Be as connected as your customers
  • Train sales associates on using mobile technology (change management)
  • Have the right infrastructure: network, middleware, order management
  • Have visibility and access to customer and product information across the enterprise – in real-time!

Mobile Challenges

She is Moving FasterHere are a few challenges our retail panelist discussed:

  • Keeping up with Customers and Technology
  • Privacy and Security
  • Inventory Accuracy
  • High-Speed Internet Access In-store with WiFi
  • Choosing the right Technology Partners

Mobile is definitely the future of retail, as consumers demand it and retailers are focused on enhancing their mobile capabilities.  Are you keeping up with your customers’ desires for mobile features?

For more details on mobile technology for retail, download the full report:

2015 Recap – How are Mobile Devices Transforming the In-Store and Web Customer Experience?

As always, I appreciate your perspectives on this topic. Please share your comments below.


Shopping Trends for the 2015 Holiday Season and Beyond

“Consumer spending is expected to be up 4% for the 2015 holiday season – what are you doing to ensure your customers are willing to spend more with you?”

Holiday Trends Cover ImageThis blog post is an executive summary of the BRP INSIGHTS: Shopping Trends for the 2015 Holiday Season and Beyond. For more in-depth coverage of the 2015 holiday shopping trends, I encourage you to read the full report.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for shoppers – and retailers too! Consumer spending is poised to increase year-over-year from 2014.

In a 2015 Gallup holiday spending intention poll, consumers estimate spending an average of $812 on gifts this season – up 4% from the $781 estimated at the same time last year, and the highest estimate since 2007. While they have higher discretionary income, consumers are still frugal and price sensitive. Consumers are smart about their holiday spending and continue to search for the best value.

Halloween is the New Thanksgiving

BlackFridayConsumers don’t have to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to get the best deals. For most retailers, discounts and holiday hype began right after Halloween on November 1. And the deals don’t stop there, as discounting is continuing throughout the season. This may cause many consumers to shop around, or postpone their purchase, until they find the best deal.

With stores offering deals throughout November it becomes less imperative to have a blowout Black Friday… or even be open at all. REI announced it would close all of its 143 stores on Black Friday. In an email sent to stores they wrote, “Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.” Gamestop and Staples have also announced they won’t open their doors for business on Black Friday.

Retail Impact

In this competitive market, retailers must offer deals throughout the month of November and not focus solely on Black Friday or Cyber Monday to hit their numbers.

Retailers Think “Click-and-Mortar”

Many retailers are gearing up for the most omni-channel holiday season yet.

  • 25PercentOffTarget – With 25% of sales predicted to be fulfilled trough shipping from a store or order pickup, Target hopes to add value and establish itself as an omni-channel leader.[1]
  • Toys“R”Us – Specifically targeted to kids, the Great Big Book of Awesome” catalog now features the ability to have an interactive experience – bringing toys to life within the app and playing in virtual reality mode.
  • Lands End – Typically an online and catalog retailer, Lands End opened pop-up shops in New York and Boston to complete their multichannel experience.

These are just a few of the holiday examples where retailers are honing in on an exceptional customer experience that integrates clicks and bricks.

Retail Impact

The market place is competitive and retailers realize that in order to capture their share of consumers’ wallets, they need to expand and emphasize their omni-channel offerings.

Shopping on Mobile Devices Continues to Accelerate

MobileShoppingMobile influence and contribution to retail sales will ramp up this holiday season. Retailers featuring their best deals on Thanksgiving will surely see an influx of mobile purchases as customers shop right from their couch. According to Adobe, 51% of retailers’ website traffic is predicted to be via mobile on Thanksgiving and 29% of Cyber Monday purchases are predicted to occur on a mobile device.[2] While customers are “webrooming” on their mobile devices on Thanksgiving, keep in mind that more than two-thirds of shoppers who browsed online ultimately bought in-store during last year’s holiday season.

Retail Impact

Shoppers can easily opt to use their mobile phone on Thanksgiving Day rather than fight the crowds at stores. Brands that do mobile right will win customers’ loyalty and future sales.

EMV Processing Creates Longer Checkout Experiences

EMV_ChipThe EMV confusion has already been begun. As a customer is checking out, she naturally swipes her card and the cashier notices that the card is chip embedded so they instruct her to insert it instead. The customer fumbles for a second, maybe questions the process to the cashier, then inserts the card and has to remember to leave it in until it has completed the longer than expected process. Aside from being an unfamiliar operation, the push-and-pause method takes longer than the swipe and is expected to negatively impact checkout line this holiday season.

Retail Impact

Retailers with trained store associates familiar with the push-and-pause EMV transaction process for its customers will be a step ahead of retailers that are unprepared. Retailers who have missed the EMV deadline will be liable for fraudulent transactions, but at least they will have the fastest checkout lines!

Retail Processes Will be Tested

OmniChannelThis past year has brought an influx of technology advances that have been embraced by consumers and gradually adopted by retailers – mobile payments, EMV, guided selling, flexible ordering and pick-up/delivery options, endless aisle and many more capabilities. With so many new retail practices and processes and the busiest season of the year approaching, retailers will be tested. There is a collision of many new processes that retailers need to properly train associates and customers to conduct in a high-pressure environment.

Retail Impact

Retailers could witness mayhem if they don’t train staff accordingly and prepare their systems for increased demand. System fumbles not only frustrate shoppers but cause retailers to lose customers for life.

Beyond 2015: Real-time Retail and Personalization are Critical

50PercentOffConsumers’ holiday shopping experiences will transcend all channels and they expect immediate products and services. Real-time retail is the ability to deliver a seamless experience to a consumer whenever, wherever or however she chooses to shop. According to BRP’s 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, retailers are focused on expanding their real-time capabilities to deliver the personalized experience their customers now expect.

Real-time Features Enhance the Shopping Experience

Retailers that can provide associates with customer data in real-time before checkout are able to provide a more personalized experience and can offer suggestions to customers that impact their purchase decisions. According to the BRP survey, within 3 years 510% more retailers will know what is in their customers closet and provide this information to sales associates in real-time. In addition, personalizing the shopping experience by understanding the customer’s online browsing history will increase by 1060% over the next three years (from 5% today to 58% in three years).

Personalized Promotions and Pricing

In the past, retailers’ pricing hierarchy was based on various levels: company, division, channel, zone and store. Now there is a new pricing strategy and structure at the personal level – based on individual shoppers. According to the BRP survey, 174% more retailers will be offering personalized promotions/pricing in the next three years.

Retail Impact

While real-time retail may not have as much of an impact on the 2015 holiday season, the need to offer customers a shopping experience that transcends channels will increase dramatically. Those retailers on the forefront of this offering will have a competitive advantage and attract and retain more loyal customers.


With an expected 4% increase in spending this holiday season, retailers have a prime opportunity to exceed the expectations of current customers and impress new shoppers to convert them into loyal customers. The holiday shopping season, which now extends from November 1 through Christmas, is less dependent on the traditional sales spikes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While this provides nearly two months of promotional opportunities, retailers still need to captivate the attention of consumers with a steady cadence of creative campaigns.
While this season will be “in the bag” before we know it, it is critical to reflect on the successes and failures that come out of this holiday season to improve the capabilities and processes for future holiday seasons. The 2016 holiday season is less than a year away – will you be ready?

I encourage you to read the full BRP INSIGHTS Report.

DOWNLOAD NOW:  Shopping Trends for the 2015 Holiday Season and Beyond

As always, I appreciate your opinions and feedback on this topic. Please share your thoughts below.



[1] CSA, How Target is going Click and Mortar this Holiday, November 2015

[2] Adobe Digital Index, 2015 Online Shopping Predictions, October 2015

Online Retail Fraud to Increase 106% – Are you ready?

As the portion of shopping done online rises, so does the importance of e-commerce to retailers’ overall strategies. Unfortunately, the increased focus on e-commerce also extends to fraudsters looking to make illegitimate purchases – a trend accelerated by the EMV liability shift earlier this month. As more retailers have provided greater payment security in the store with the addition of EMV, fraudsters will be shifting their efforts to target e-commerce sites.

106 Percent online fraudAs a result of EMV according to Trustev, and referenced in our 2015 E-Commerce survey, online fraud is predicted to increase 106% over the next three years. Fraudsters also are looking to exploit ecommerce transactions to capture credit card numbers and other personal data. These changes in the retail landscape make it more important than ever to protect customer data and effectively monitor online transactions.

Online transactions create a unique set of security challenges. Since the transactions are “card not present,” there is no way to verify the card’s legitimacy by verifying the signature, checking the customer’s ID or matching the last four digits of the card. To protect themselves from fraudulent online transactions, retailers must implement a rules-based fraud detection tool, auditing suspect transactions and authorizing legitimate ones.

Protecting Online Customer and Payment Information

Today’s customer expects a certain level of convenience when shopping online including the ability to save their personal and payment information on sites they frequent.

Customer Information – Retailers should be encrypting all customer information as soon as it enters their environment.Hacker_Thief_2

Payment Card Information – Further, the amount of credit card data retailers must save to offer this convenience makes it a target for hackers. Fortunately for retailers, tokenization technology works for both brick and mortar and e-commerce transactions. In fact, all of our clients currently implementing tokenization are implementing multi channel tokens. This not only secures their customer’s credit card data, but also provides the retailer with an omni-channel payment solution central to creating a consistent brand experience across channels.

PCI is not Enough

With the shifting retail paradigm, simply passing PCI is no longer enough to truly protect customer information. Retailers must build security into their technology roadmaps to ensure that the level of protection is commensurate with their omni-channel strategies. We suggest an annual security audit outside of PCI and other standards to ensure that security measures are not in place merely to pass audits but to truly protect the customers’ information retailers work so hard to gain and retain.

As always, I appreciate your opinions on this topic. Please share your comments below.


Chase Pay: Initial Reactions

Chase PayOn Monday, October 26, 2015, JPMorgan Chase & Co announced that it plans to launch a smartphone payment service called Chase Pay by mid-2016. With Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay already making inroads into this upstart mobile payment market, the competition for customers will now be even greater with the addition of Chase’s own service. However, when you start to peel back the onion, it is clear that Chase Pay has some very distinct advantages and disadvantages with their solution.

Thumbs UpAdvantages

Captive Customer Base – With over 94 million card accounts (estimated at 50% of all U.S. households), Chase is certainly in a position to leverage their current market share in helping to gain traction in the fast-growing mobile payment space. Many of the tech-savvy Chase customers already use their smartphone for Chase banking, and adding the ability to execute a payment transaction with these phones is a logical a
nd smart move by Chase. Chase customers will be automatically signed-up for the new mobile payment service, which will accelerate the adoption towards growing their user base in this market.

Backed by MCX – In addition to Chase’s massive customer base, Chase Pay is backed by the MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange) Consortium which will have the support of over 100,000 retail locations at launch, including some of the bigger names in the industry such as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Dunkin Donuts and ExxonMobil. 

Device Agnostic – One of the biggest advantages Chase will have in maintaining usage is that they will not be tied to a given smartphone manufacturer. Because Apple Pay will only work on Apple devices and Android Pay on Android devices, Chase Pay has an advantage given its functionality will be supported across multiple devices and mobile platforms.

Retailer Support for Barcode Scanning – Chase Pay’s use of QR barcodes for executing the payment can be supported by virtually any merchant that utilizes 2D barcode scanning.  Their service doesn’t require the latest generation of payment terminals which are necessary for the support of NFC-based payment solutions.

DisadvantagesThumbs Down

Late to the Party – Chase Pay is a latecomer to the mobile payment market which is becoming even more muddled with new solutions with each passing month.  Customers that have taken the time to set up their phones to use either Apple Pay or Samsung Pay may be reluctant to switch over to yet another payment method at this point.

Integration Challenges – For those merchants who aren’t members of the MCX Consortium supporting the CurrentC platform, there will be some integration challenges at the POS to accepting these QR codes.

Consumer Usability – To use Chase Pay, consumers will need to unlock their phones and launch an app (either the MCX CurrentC app or the Chase Pay app) to generate the code during the checkout, which is a more complicated process than simply holding your phone near a payment terminal for executing an NFC-based mobile payment app transaction. Consumers may also debate whether these steps will be worth the effort vs. simply taking a card out of their wallets and swiping/inserting to make a payment.

Enterprise Payment Security Alignment – Many retailers who have invested in new payment terminals over recent years have implemented end-to-end encryption, tokenization and other omni-channel payment security solutions which may be impacted by accepting Chase Pay transactions. Even though Chase Pay utilizes their own tokenization technology to ensure the security of their transactions, it remains to be seen how the underlying message format and routing will sync with other transaction flows.


With an extensive built-in merchant base supporting the acceptance of Chase Pay, this new mobile payment solution will be able to quickly gain traction with existing Chase banking customers. However, given the intense competition from the current industry leaders, along with a lagging underlying technology, it will be interesting to see if Chase Pay is able to maintain long-term relevance in this fast growing market.

As always, I appreciate your opinions on this topic.  Please enter your comments below.