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There are more than a few big reasons Wal-Mart is advancing its mobile retail customer experience and the big one is consumers want a smooth, fast, easy experience. In fact, they’re demanding it.

“The speed of customer expectation is as dramatic as I’ve ever seen,” said Daniel Eckert, SVP of Wal-Mart Services. Eckert expressed the sentiment during his kick-off keynote address at Network Media Group’s annual CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit held this week in Chicago.

There are some other compelling reasons as well: 75 percent of Wal-Mart shoppers use a smartphone and 50 percent of those use the device while in a Wal-Mart store, explained Eckert.

So in June Wal-Mart rolled out Walmart Pay, its homegrown mobile-payment feature within the Walmart mobile app, across its 4,600 U.S. stores. Development took less than nine months and the Wal-Mart app already has 20 million users tapping it each month.

That development time frame, noted Eckert, illustrates “the speed and the pace you need to run,” when it comes to a mobile retail strategy.

“We set out to make an easy, seamless experience,” he said. “It’s a utility,” he noted and “no small feat,” to accomplish, he added.

It’s a well-used utility given the average Wal-Mart consumer hits a store three to four times a month.

The mega retailer’s mobile payment strategy involved mapping the customer journey from the couch to the store to the parking lot and identifying frictions points at peak shopping times and the check-out environment.

Wal-Mart is focused on using technology to improve the customer experience and its payment app reflects that, said Eckert.

“It’s about saving stress, time, customer pain points.”

One prime mobile experience aspect was to provide a device-agnostic technology and expand choices for shoppers.

“It’s not mobile payments for payments’ sake,” he said.

In offering advice to the 150-plus summit attendees Eckert noted retailers need to use the full strength of the enterprise to bare down when it comes to mobile experience strategy.

“This is a digital-physical interaction,” he said, noting store associates’ input was taken into account as part of a 380-person task-force involved with Wal-Mart Pay. “The front line needs to be engaged,” he said.

The response from customers has been overwhelming positive.

“It was a big surprise how well received it has been as customers are saying ‘it works for me,'” and that, said Eckert, aligns tightly with Wal-Mart’s focus across its enterprise. Wal-Mart teams end the day with a cheer of “Who is number one? The customer,” he explained.

Four of five customers, 80 percent, are recommending Walmart Pay and nearly 90 percent are repeat users.

“We’re seeing an acceleration of usage and that’s encouraging,” said Eckert. “We set out to make an easy, seamless experience.”

Reprinted with permission from

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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