Kohl's Pay

Kohl’s Corp. is betting the phone will become an even more vital link to its shoppers.

The retailer on Wednesday introduced the nationwide launch of Kohl’s Pay, a mobile payment option that integrates its private label credit card into the Kohl’s mobile app. Customers can use their Apple or Android smartphone to pay for purchases in Kohl’s 1,100 stores.

Aside from adding the convenience of access to a customer’s Kohl’s card, the option also links with Kohl’s offers and discounts. The offers are automatically accessible during checkout, which is both far more convenient for the customer and useful to the business since the functionality helps build loyalty, track and analyze customer purchases and encourages use of the brand’s in-house credit card. Kohl’s has about 25 million active cardholders and 14 million downloads of the app.

The app is available to all customers, and allows them to scan gift cards and manage rewards, even if they don’t have a Kohl’s credit card.

“Kohl’s Pay truly redefines convenience for our loyal Kohl’s Charge customers by simplifying the checkout and payment experience — making it easier than ever to shop in store this holiday season,” said Ratnakar Lavu, Kohl’s chief technology officer. “We’re combining value and convenience by bringing together the incredible savings opportunities that our customers love like Kohl’s Cash and our Yes2You Rewards loyalty program with the ability to pay with a Kohl’s Charge, all from your mobile device.”

The app streamlines the process to make returns and also offers tools for customized in-store shopping and the ability to browse and shop within the app. Store Tools let customers scan products while shopping in-store to see the price, read reviews and view applicable offers. The Kohl’s app became available in 2011 and was relaunched in 2014. Kohl’s Pay was piloted in 30 stores with customers in Wisconsin, California and Ohio.

These added benefits are a key motivator for brands looking to adopt mobile payments.

Mobile wallets are among the top four ways that consumers prefer to stay updated on offers and coupons, according to research in July from mobile engagement platform Urban Airship. It found that in the U.S. and the U.K., 54 percent of consumers have used mobile wallets, and the top three items that consumers used were loyalty cards, coupons and order delivery updates. The survey found that 69 percent of respondents were more like to use a loyalty card if it’s on their phone, and 73 percent were more likely to join a loyalty program if points and rewards were automatically updated on mobile wallet loyalty cards.

Loyalty cards and mobile payments can be accessed using services such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, PayPal or MasterPass, but some brands have found it useful to add a payments option within a proprietary app.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., last December, became the first retailer to roll out its own mobile payments offering, and it’s rumored that Target Corp. will soon follow.

A February 2015 report from Forrester Research found that mobile wallets enable marketers to extend the brand promise, improve conversion rates and drive traffic and sales.

The report said, “In the next few years, third-party players like Apple or PayPal are best placed to emerge from the mobile wallet wars and morph into rich marketing platforms, offering reach and the opportunity for other brands to borrow mobile moments to better serve their customers.”

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