Smartphones are fast becoming travel essentials for consumers when visiting a new place or city, from accessing maps to find their way around to checking reviews when considering the best hotels, restaurants and bars to visit, and inform their buying decisions during their stay.
An extension to this is that, gradually, more and more consumers are using their devices to make the final purchase thanks to contactless payments and smartphone payment applications.
It is important that the Scottish trade responds to this growing trend.
These advances have made payments secure, quick and simple for customers who want things at a click of a button.
The convenience of purchasing on a handheld device contributed to 50% year-on-year mobile commerce (m-commerce) growth in 2013, compared to 2012.
In 2014 this trend is very much set to continue.
It is therefore important that Scotland’s pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels respond to these growing trends, particularly against the backdrop of 2014’s major sporting and cultural events, and utilise the surge in m-commerce to maximise their own offering, increase sales opportunities and enhance customer service.
M-commerce solutions, by smartphone or tablet, are flexible and allow businesses to choose the ways in which they want to integrate the payments solution.
Using applications such as the Barclays Pingit app allows businesses access to a wide variety of multiple media platforms which complement existing established methods and make it easier for customers to transact with the business wherever they are, whenever they want.
There is added peace of mind for the customer and business knowing that bills are paid instantly, with immediate confirmation.
Paying a bill using a QR code reduces reconciliation errors as the payment reference will always be defined by the business and offers added security, as the money is transferred securely and does not require the exchange of sensitive information.
It is easy for businesses to implement, and immediate payment means improved cashflow.
Mobile commerce will be the fastest-growing retail channel in 2014.
For the hospitality and leisure industry leveraging the functionality, accessibility and popularity of smartphones as an innovative mobile payment channel to improve the way it interacts with its customers and drive process efficiencies, makes complete business sense.
This is a big year for Scotland as we play host to events including the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, Homecoming Scotland and the MTV European Music Awards.
For businesses which are not already part of the m-commerce revolution, now is an opportune time to put plans in place to realise how new mobile services can serve your commercial objectives.
From making use of the appropriate software to establishing business listings, unique short codes and QR codes, to telling customers you are using m-commerce payment methods, there is so much information available online.
Mobile commerce will be the fastest-growing retail channel in the UK in 2014.
In short, embracing smartphone technology is the smart move.
• Paul Smith is corporate development director, Barclays Corporate Banking, Scotland.