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With Uniqlo Launching Mobile Payments, The Apparel Giant’s Ambitions Go Far Beyond That

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After Apple and Starbucks, another retail giant is aiming for the “mobile payments” business.

Japan’s Uniqlo launches online payment service

The administrator of Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo will add a payment function to its smartphone APP. This will make it easier to track customers’ purchases and improve the planning, manufacturing, and selling of products.

Previously, third-party service providers handled the mobile payments at Uniqlo stores. Now Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, has decided to manage all payments at Uniqlo stores itself.

The largest mobile payment app in Japan is SoftBank Group’s PayPay. It has more than 35m registered users. Uniqlo’s app has amassed 30 million downloads. And with the addition of payment feature, Fast Retailing will
country’s largest retailer with the service

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Uniqlo Pay supports Uniqlo’s online payment function. They developed the system in partnership with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. After its launch, users can tie their bank account or credit card information to the Uniqlo app. Customers can then pay by scanning a QR code at the checkout counter.

For now, however, the payment service is limited to about 800 Uniqlo stores in Japan. Online shopping and Gu stores will also use Uniqlo Pay’s payment service.

Uniqlo stores have allowed mobile payments for some time now. But there is no way to access gender and age data unless the Uniqlo app is open simultaneously. And many customers are reluctant to open both apps.

Mobile payments are more convenient

To increase APP usage, reduce customer waiting time, and collect more customer data, they finally decided to integrate the payment function.

Today’s retail giant knows that mobile payments are more convenient. It is also quick and simple. And to some extent, it has become an advantage against the competition.

More and more consumers are looking for faster and easier ways to shop. Innovations such as self-checkout have yet to meet the goal of fast spending, whether online or in stores. With the popularity of “mobile wallets,” the development of mobile payments has been further promoted. While using the mobile payment to improve customers’ shopping experience, retailers, including Uniqlo and Wal-Mart, are also pressuring out competitors.

Why are more and more retailers eyeing mobile payment

Figures show that 48.1 million people in the US used mobile payments in 2017. And in 2018, that number grew to 55 million. It meant that more than 20 percent of Americans are using mobile payments. By 2019, the number was more than 61 million. The steady growth in the number of mobile payment users over the past few years indicates that mobile payments have become a trend not only in the US but also in the global consumer sector.

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According to a survey by payment solutions provider Blackhawk Network, three out of five smartphone users in the US have a mobile wallet.
However, as of October 2018, only half of the retailers allowed mobile payments.

The survey also found that 60 percent of shoppers said they expect to earn points for in-store purchases using their smartphones.
If they could use points to buy a product, nearly half of them would join a membership program.

Improving digital payment capabilities is vital for retailers. This is because it can create a smoother checkout process and increase customer loyalty.
Retailers such as Walmart (WMT) and Starbucks (SBUX) are already using mobile payment options. And they are getting a taste of the benefits.

Before the launch of mobile payments in 2015, one of Walmart’s biggest weaknesses was its inability to understand what particular shoppers were looking for when buying goods in stores. They also fail to grasp what products to offer to their customers.

Mobile payments role in finance and consumers

Since then, Walmart has adopted mobile payments and tracked each shopper’s in-store purchases. They do so by launching an online payment app that tracks each shopper’s purchases.
Wal-Mart then uses this information to recommend other products that shoppers might like to enhance the shopping experience and increase customer loyalty.

According to Walmart, 80 percent of its transactions have come from repeat customers since the launch of Walmart Pay.
Data from 2016 showed that only months after the company launched its online payment service, about 22 million customers used its APP every month. More than half of its online orders come from mobile terminals.

This year, Walmart was forced to close a number of its big stores because of the outbreak.
This has led Wal-Mart to pay more attention to the development of online retail channels and mobile payments technology.
In December, Walmart announced their plans to spin off Phonepe, the digital payments unit of Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart. It then led to a new round of $700 million in funding for Phonepe to make its mobile payments business bigger and bigger.

Walmart has announced a partnership with FedEx to make it easier for customers to shop and return goods, CNN reported.
The deal comes as Walmart’s U.S. online sales surged 79 percent in its most recent quarter.

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