Mobile payment field testing on Android HTC Thunderbolt

Tis the season for shopping and tis the year for mobile payments.  Here are a few vignettes, comments and my scoring from a recent lunch time shopping trip.

Shopping locations were The Body Shop, REI, Chef Chen’s & Starbucks.  Scoring was based on physical mechanics of payment, speed of payment, cross-sell upsell by store, clerk’s knowledge of the payment system and a general rating on how I felt at the end.

Scoring was is simple zero to two for each question.

  • Zero total customer fail
  • Two points for a “moment of delight”
  • One point for everything in between

The Body Shop

Experience: Had a Groupon to use before 12/24 so popped in and bought two packages of a lotion for my wife.  Store was nearly empty and clerk came over and mentioned there was a 2 for 4 on the item that I just bought so he dropped two more into my bag. Wife will be shocked that she is getting 4 early gifts tonight as a part of this experiment.  Walked to the POS and rang it up, I was $2 short of the “required total” so he needed another item.  I asked him for any suggestion and he went and grabbed a small of the same lotion.  Note I did not prompt him to pick a cheap item or even the same item but he assumed both and finished checkout.  There was bad wi-fi so it took two tries to load the offer via Groupon mobile and he said that I might have to go into the main part of the mall.  I paid the extra couple bucks with cash for speed as another customer had showed up.

Moments for improvement: Not having to go all the way to POS, clerk was already with me and could have done mobile checkout with the right device.  Also having to pay extra cash was annoying as I would have preferred to somehow just “top up” my Groupon to the total.  Note ths is even more annoying with Groupon Now.  Or why not let me checkout with less than the total and earn breakage on that?

Score: 8 (Mechanism 1, Speed 1, Cross Sell 2, Knowledge 2, Overall 2).  Bottom line I got a ton of stuff with pretty good service for very little money.


Experience: This time I had a Google Offer and am an REI member with one of their US Bank cards.  Wandered the store a while to find the item, nobody ever approached. Found the item and went to check out. There was a rush of customers but clerks appeared magically to take the load which sped things up significantly.  Clerk asked if I was paying with card and I said “phone and card” which gave him pause but then he looked at the phone and said, “oh that is a gift code”.  Scanner did not work so he 10 keyed it in and then I paid the remainder with some saved dividend via membership number and then the rest on my credit card which he had already taken to get my member number.

Moments for improvement: Obviously better scanner and training but the big missed opportunity was by Google to incentive me giving them an REI member id when they sold the national deal.  This could have showed up with the offer for the clerk and helped us both out.  A bigger opportunity is the fact that this same REI card is in my Google Checkout profile which could have been used to finish payment.  3 different payment mechanisms was less than idea and required 2 signatures.  Google Wallet is getting closer to pulling it all together but with NFC actually be usable and on my phone?

Score: 6 (Mechanism 1, Speed 2, Cross Sell 0, Knowledge 1, Overall 2).  Got what I wanted quickly but was underwhelmed by POS execution and nobody took advantage of the opportunity of me being in the store in any way.

Chef Chen’s

Experience: Needed some food and was by a lunch spot that I love who also runs a Bankons eligible deal.  Walked in and got seated quickly.  While waiting to order I checked in on Foursquare and saw an additional deal for Amex small business. (I don’t own an Amex card)  It was a good promotion where if you spent $10, they would give you an additional $10 statement credit.  I finished lunch and put a card for the bill, was taken back for processing and then thanks for my business.  Nobody mentioned an Amex card and the processing was done out of my sight, albeit quickly.

Moments for improvement: Monitor presence based social media to see a checkin.  I was on my phone the whole time so obviously a geek. Also doing checkout via Square at the table and/or double checking if I wanted to use the card that they have a promotion with.  Minor gripe with Foursquare is that you should have a way for me to remove Amex offers when I explicitly say that I do not have a card.

Score:4  (Mechanism 1, Speed 1, Cross Sell 0, Knowledge 1, Overall 1).  Overall this shows how far small businesses have to go before technology adoption at scale. Existing tech is available and promotions running but street level execution is lacking. Good lunch though!


Experience: Lunch was a bit of a gut bomb so needed afternoon pick me up.  Walked in, medium length line, ordered latte off the menu and was asked if I wanted a treat with that.  Pulled out phone and paid.

Moments for improvement: I am a gold member, is there a way that the staff can know that before checkout so that they can ask me about special perks that I am eligible for.  This was not a Starbucks I have ever gone to so no personal history.  I currently don’t see a way to do that. Something simple like scanning my buy code when I step in the would alert them that I was in line and then they could have real time CRM.  Not sure if this is worth another scanner in the store but it would be an interesting test to see if they could drive value and it would get me to take out my phone and load the code before checkout.

Score: (Mechanism 2, Speed 2, Cross Sell 1, Knowledge 2, Overall 2). Cross sell could be more compelling if they get a membership level and item history. Maybe I should tweet @adambrotman this idea.

Sorry for the long post but I figured that it was an interesting day of digital field testing and I wanted to share.


About svmoneyball

A lifelong student of silicon valley. I also tend to play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee.
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2 Responses to Mobile payment field testing on Android HTC Thunderbolt

  1. Matt West says:

    What you’re describing with Starbucks’ potential for improvement reminds me of Square’s latest loyalty features. When you get near the store (GPS), you show up on the register screen as being near the store, with your name, photo, and membership level. You could use the app while waiting in line to confirm you’re there, check in, pre-load your discount, etc… To make your purchase you just tell the cashier your name and they charge your pre-loaded card. That would also give them the ability to track what you order and offer targeted marketing based off of that.

  2. svmoneyball says:

    I agree that this is a similar experience and will be interesting to see how much it is adopted. With a focus on smaller businesses it is easier to integrate into sales process, harder to get mass adoption but not complicated POS or CRM systems to integrate with. Card Case is super cool and certainly a fan but don’t shop that many places that have Square (yet) and I know because I keep checking.

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