As shoppers increasingly move to contactless payments, retailers must ensure their mobile offers are appealing to their most devoted customers.

Starbucks announced the roll-out of its Mobile Order & Pay to all US outlets at the end of last year. The service allows Starbucks customers to order in advance via an app and pick up their beverages from the chosen outlet, saving the customer waiting time.

Payments are made through the app and, as a result, queue times are reduced, operational efficiency is improved and the overall customer experience is enhanced – it’s a win-win for both customer and business.

As we move increasingly towards a cashless and cardless society, major retailers need to study mobile successes, not just to learn about consumer engagement but also about operational efficiency.

However, payment via an app is only one element of mobile’s retail potential.

The more we integrate mobile into improving not only the transaction but the very act of shopping itself, the better prepared we’ll be to ride the waves of change.

As the Starbucks example shows, in-app loyalty cards can realise digital value while reinventing the in-store experience to surprise and delight shoppers.

Many retailers set themselves up for a fall by thinking their app will be downloaded and used by every single customer who walks through the door and therefore assume it needs to offer the broadest functionality and appeal.

The reality is that 90% of footfall won’t have the app on their phones when they first visit your store. Therefore, an app only needs to target your top 10% of customers, who can be rewarded for signing up to a virtual loyalty cycle.

Digital consumer loyalty is infectious and there is an appetite for app experimentation by consumers on the high street, especially among younger consumers, who are increasingly embracing mobile payment.

Innovation needs to come from the top and the bar should be set high. Map digital streams, and analyse use and results so you can iterate to deliver the best customer experience.

I started with coffee, so let’s make it a double shot with the example of Harris + Hoole.

This chain of artisan coffee shops has put mobile at the forefront and invested in a complete overhaul so that staff are properly trained in how the app adds to the customer experience, how to communicate differently with customers as a result and what benefits it can bring to the business.

The app functionality includes mobile payments and digital loyalty rewards, but it also allows the customer to build their perfect tea, coffee or hot chocolate remotely (size, temperature, shots, milk type, flavourings, etc). This means no more repeating your name and the same order day in, day out.

Customers just check in to a local Harris + Hoole, ask for their usual and the barista calls them when it’s ready.

The future of apps won’t just be about facilitating mobile payments – they’re the gateway to a complete end-to-end experience overhaul, which will ultimately drive business results.

  • Dennis Jones is chief executive of Judo Payments