Experiential payments

Three strategies to accelerate customer conversion and build loyalty

By Bernadette Berger, Creative Director


Illustrations by Christine Lee

Have you ever lost yourself in a retail experience? Got swept away by beautiful displays or immersive videos? Then, you reach the point of sale…

 …and it’s like a bucket of cold water gets dumped on your head, leaving the unpurchased items to languish in your cart.

 That, my friends, is the Pain of Paying. Or, as Ofer Zellermayer defines it:

“the moment when the point of sale falls flat, halting the emotional sweep of the retail experience and sabotaging the act of commitment.”

Enter experiential payments. By viewing the act of payment through a human-experience lens, we make the moment less transactional and more relational. When implemented correctly, experiential payments can increase customer conversion—while saving people time and improving brand loyalty. Here are three key strategies to keep customers coming back time and time again.

01 Connect with underserved customers

A shopper uses their smartphone to make digital purchases while on the go.

The opportunity
Experiential payments can be a bridge, welcoming new customer segments that may be overlooked in your existing retail journey.

Use case
Starbucks understood that teens are its rising customers, but cash isn’t their common currency. Payments through the Starbucks app eased this barrier, giving teens a sense of autonomy in their purchases while allowing parents to maintain oversight. Parents can easily load a virtual gift card, accessible through the Starbucks app, and instant payments at the register speed the process of selecting, ordering, and paying. In addition to nurturing a new customer base, Starbucks encourages these teens to become core customers, showering them with loyalty stars, offering timely deals, and enabling order-ahead functionality.

The future
We imagine retail brands that breathe life into overlooked customer groups through digital wallets and virtual gift cards. A single app that holds your membership card, debit card, and ID for members-only retailers like Costco. Perks for reloading virtual gift cards and buying through the app at casual restaurants like Chipotle. And even retail bank services that focus on under-represented communities with streamlined embedded banking, embedded lending, and investment products.

02 Respect the ritual of physical objects

A smartwatch user views event options while on a cruise ship.

The opportunity
While digital currencies are on the rise, they still exist on the fringe because we have not yet adopted a simple physical payment method. Digital wallets like Coinbase and Apple Pay are paving the way with smartphone users but are missing out on customers who need the ritual of a physical object to symbolize payments.

Use case
There’s already a range of physical objects that serve as long-term or short-term digital wallets beyond the smartphone. Disney pioneered the idea with its MagicBands, which are connected to customer credit cards and IDs. Carnival’s Princess Cruise Lines sells bracelets and necklaces to hold its Medallions, enabling tap-to-purchase while on board, opening cabin doors, and offering personalized experiences. Connect&Go has even pushed the form factor into single-use paper bands for music festivals and conferences.

The future
We envision greater momentum toward physical/digital wallets as customer expectation continues to shift to buying as an experience. A physical object that represents the idea of currency makes it easier for customers to move from selection to payment and combines the “in-the-moment” excitement of the physical retail experience with the efficiency of e-commerce.

03 Embed payments in existing behaviors

A retail experience in an autonomous vehicle includes an embedded wallet.

The opportunity
Moving beyond integrated payments, embedded payments remove the purchasing step, making the transaction a seamless, streamlined part of the overall process. Instead of fragmenting the buying experience, embedded payments can keep customers within the emotional journey of a brand.

Use case
Owning a Tesla is a well-crafted, luxury experience. And with the addition of an embedded wallet, the seamless experience extends into effortless payments. Through the Tesla app, any retail experience made within the vehicle also becomes faster and sleeker. Driving through a car wash, pulling through a to-go window, using a parking garage, driving on toll highways—all become moments of instant payment that save the driver time, hassle, and effort. Eventually, embedded payments could be expanded to an autonomous vehicle that drives itself to a repair shop and handles scheduling, communication, and billing.

The future
We imagine smart cities with a fully on-demand transportation ecosystem: tap-to-pay trains, autonomous shared vehicles with embedded wallets, reliable electric bikes, and easy-to-rent scooters. Embedded payments unlock the complexity of moving people where they need to go.

Like everything from your product design to your marketing plan, your payments strategy should always consider the motivations and behaviors of your target customers. This is especially important when making the decision to implement new technologies into point-of-sale. Because regardless of how innovative the technology, if you don’t focus first on the customer experience, you might cause more pain than purchase.

Interested in learning more about how your brand can drive customer conversion and loyalty through experiential payments? We’re here to help! To set up a brainstorming session, contact us today at info@indigoslate.com.


Creative Director
Bernadette Berger

Christine Lee

Sr. Director of Technical Writing and Editing
Lisa Rosenberger

Sr. Technical Writer and Editor
Ren Iris

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