A country’s mobile payment usage will be an increasingly strong indicator for its food e-commerce market going forward, as consumer familiarity with making mobile payments is key for boosting online shopping, reports Packaged Facts in the recent market research study Global Food E-Commerce (published May 2019).
Research in the report reveals that:
- The rapidly growing penetration of smartphones means that an increasing share of total e-commerce transactions will be performed via mobile devices, rather than computers.
- Mobile devices are essential to omnichannel sales strategies that integrate online and offline shopping experiences.
- Mobile apps are the payment platforms used in cashierless grocery stores.
Mobile payments are central to online-to-offline grocery experiences such as Alibaba’s Hema Fresh and JD.com’s 7Fresh in China. U.S.-based Kroger and Walmart also offer mobile payment options in their stores that involve scanning a unique QR code generated at checkout via secure mobile app rather than having to input sensitive financial details such as a PIN or credit card number. Hence, many consumers view e-wallets as a safer way to shop since account information is not shared directly with a merchant.
In cashierless grocery stores – such as Amazon Go and Sam’s Club Now stores in the US, and BingoBox stores in China – transactions are made via shoppers’ smartphones, meaning that mobile payments are the operative feature of these high-tech retail concepts. At BingoBox stores, for instance, consumers make payments via Tencent’s WeChat mobile payment platform, while shoppers at Amazon Go stores use a dedicated app from Amazon. Cashierless stores also utilize sensors, cameras, and other smart technologies such as RFID tags – to monitor activity and stock levels and scan items shoppers pick up – using near field communication (NFC) between a merchant’s terminal and electronic shelf labels.
In Asian countries – such as China, India, and South Korea – mobile payments are more common than payments made by other devices, as most internet users in these countries access the internet via smartphone rather than via other devices such as laptops and tablets. This trend gives these nations an advantage over those with more developed e-commerce markets, because most online shoppers already utilize mobile payments:
- More than half of all internet users in China have made a mobile payment compared to just 19% of internet users in the S.
- One reason for this trend is that credit and debit cardholders are rare in China compared to the U. Thus, Chinese consumers were eager for services like Alipay – a mobile payment app introduced by Alibaba in 2013 to facilitate more seamless e-commerce transactions.
In wealthier regions such as North America and Western Europe, where penetration of both e-commerce and electronic devices other than smartphones is generally higher, mobile payments are less common, as e-commerce sales are distributed over a wider range of devices and encompass a greater variety of payment methods, with debit/credit card being the most common globally.
A growing number of consumers around the world are also gaining experience with using e-wallets (also known as a digital wallet, or mobile wallet when integrated with a smartphone). With e-wallets, shoppers securely store payment details (e.g., credit card, debit card, or checking or savings account numbers) from multiple accounts, making online shopping a faster and easier process. E-wallets utilized in food e-commerce applications include Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
Additionally, social media platforms are entering the e-wallet space. For example, Tencent’s WeChat (a Chinese social media messaging app) stores payment information in its WeChat Pay e-wallet and allows:
- direct payment of bills
- purchase of products marketed on social media
- payment at participating vendor websites
- in-store purchases
With 900 million monthly active users, WeChat Pay is so popular in China that even food vendors in street marketplaces accept it. Smartphone-scannable QR codes eliminate the need for merchants to buy hardware such as chip or card scanners, allowing more businesses to participate.