iOS 8 will be released this week. Among many changes to the operating system for apple mobile devices, there are a number of changes that are worthy of consideration to retailers.
Apple Pay – The moment Apple Pay was released, a flood of POS providers showed their support and ability to enable Apple Pay on their platform (my own employer among them). Apple are releasing the program in the US with support from a number of well known tier one retailers. While there is no way of knowing whether showing an apple logo on the retailer’s door will get people to finally jump to a mobile wallet, it’s a good strategy to keep options open in the event it becomes a commonly requested payment method.
Retailers in Canada that implemented new pinpads for EMV over the past few years enabled NFC on those pinpads as a matter of course. With that NFC capability, they should be well placed to enable Apple Pay when it becomes available in Canada. US based retailers that do not currently have NFC capability and are working through EMV certification would do well to include NFC and Apple Pay integration as part of that process. The incremental cost of enabling Apple Pay as part of an overall EMV effort is likely to be minimal. While it would be optimal to deploy quickly to take advantage of consumer interest, EMV takes time and if the devices onsite do not have NFC capability, a deployment of new devices will be necessary.
It will be important for retailers to track where and how Apple Pay gains traction. The area of focus may vary – hospitality and small transactions could be the sweet spot, but perhaps it will be popular with shoppers at luxury retailers. Retailers should watch closely and ensure that their shopper’s preferences are fulfilled.
Scan Credit Card for eCommerce – While much was made of the ability of scanning scan credit cards to add them to Passbook, the ability to scan credit cards into Safari for eComm purchases is also a nice addition. As someone who makes eComm purchases on my mobile devices for items such as movie tickets, making a purchase is an effort. Shoppers must TYPE their full name, credit card number, expiration date and card security code. I have those memorized, and it’s still clunky to do on a mobile. For some retailers one also must type in a verified by visa password. If that whole process can be replaced by a scan from my phone, or an autofill from my safari keychain, it saves a whole lot of typing and removes obstacles from mobile purchases. Retailers who enable this function are likely to drive more sales through their mobile channel with the removal of obstacles.
Location Based App Shortcuts – On earlier versions of iOS, Passbook provided a lock screen notification for Starbucks if you were in a store. Passbook also provided a lock screen notification for a plane or movie ticket if the time for the ticket was approaching. While this was a convenient workaround an unnecessary pin code entry, it also required some setting changes. For Starbucks, users had to identify “favourite” sites that enabled Passbook to provide the lock screen notification for Starbucks payment.
iOS8 provides a non-Passbook lock screen shortcut in the bottom left of the screen based on your GPS location. Users have noted that their iPhones with apps from Vons, Tesco, Starbucks and more show an app icon in the bottom left of the lock screen. When users swipe up on the icon at bottom left, the app is opened
with out a PIN [Update: you still need your PIN to access the full app. Passbook = no PIN). While it may appear that beacons are at play, it sounds like it may be driven by GPS as some users had no connectivity at the time. One user also indicated that a Costco icon showed at the bottom left even though they did not have a Costco app installed.
Retailers stand to benefit from reduced barriers for shoppers to use their mobiles once again. Making an app easier to access while actually at the retail location is a great idea. Providing a visual cue right on the lock screen is even better. This access sets the stage to enable retailers to bring online and stores together with some unique functionality.
Hey Siri! - The latest iteration of Siri allows users to access the personal assistant without having to push a button. iPhones can now listen for users to ask for help. Siri is also finally going back to its roots with integration to more services. Siri is able to listen to songs for you with Shazam to find and purchase the name of the song/tv show/movie you are observing.
While Siri will be a great sales tool for Shazam and iTunes to sell it doesn’t help other retailers much on the surface, but it does indicate a possible door widening to integration with other services. When Siri was originally launched, it connected to 45 services, but after Apple bought them, it connected to only 12. The founders of Siri are working on another service – viv – that promises to take the personal assistant to another level – and ideally connect it to a plethora of services that can access it via natural language.
Retailers that can make their transaction engines available to channels like AI personal assistants will be exposing their products and services in a new way.
Privacy – In past iterations, mac addresses were easily harvestable from idevices by pinging them with a wifi signal. In essence, ‘free’ consumer tracking was possible. With iOS8, iDevices provide a pseudo MAC address until consumers actually establish a connection with the wifi network. This means that retailers and other consumer facing organizations will need to track consumers via an iBeacon option or even through accepting a wifi connection with shoppers.
Making the MAC address data private is the right thing for retailers and shoppers alike. All retail programs should be opt-in and retailers and all consumer facing organizations should be clear on data tracked, for what purpose, and allow shoppers the right to opt out of anything they are not comfortable with. Selling is a two way street and being as honest and straightforward is possible will have the best returns in the long run. Shoppers who are willing to provide their data for improved service are not hard to find, and everyone appreciates an honest trading partner.
Indoor Positioning - Apples latest offering enables indoor maps and wayfinding to be more easily implemented by shopping centres and department stores. Apple has made iPhone motion sensors available to their API. With that API update and a more powerful processor, indoor systems can access phone data to make navigating large venues simpler.
Retailers that leverage any tool possible to provide access to their products and services make themselves more readily available to shoppers.
iOS 8 looks to be a landmark release with lots of new features and functions.
Check out a longer list of deep dive functionality, and please share any retail oriented features discovered at release!