Dan W

Awkward Shopping

Sam Machin showed me the Pizza Express app. It’s like most retail apps. Vouchers and a store locator, clumsily implemented. But it also allows paying the restaurant bill with PayPal.

Pizza Express AppPizza Express App

Type in a code printed at the bottom of the receipt, apply any vouchers and then log in to paypal. The trouble is the next step is uncertain. The bill is paid, but the waiting staff don’t know this. Do you just walk out? Or do you first explain what you’ve done? You’ve not placed a card or money on the table either, so the staff don’t walk up to your table to help. A somewhat awkward experience.

Likewise, Apple are rumoured to be launching the ability to pay for in store purchases through an iPhone app:

The other major feature coming in Appleā€™s new app? Customer self check-out at retail stores. This is a huge deal and Apple is the first to be able to put it together. Here is how this will work: after you find the item you want to buy, like an accessory, you launch the Apple Store app on your iOS device and there will be an option to buy a product in the store. You scan the product with the camera on your device in the app, click purchase, and it will charge whatever credit card is associated to your Apple ID. You then just walk out of the store. Yes, we have been told that Apple will not be checking purchases which seems hard to believe, but this self check-out option will launch Thursday worldwide at all Apple retail stores

As if the current Apple shops with their lack of till to queue at are insufficiently awkward as they are.

RFID credit cards are similar. You produce your credit card to pay and then have to explain you don’t want to use the usual chip and pin machine but to do the wavey thing that has no colloquial name yet. Using chip & pin would be quicker than having the conversation.

We lack the necessary vocabulary and rituals for these new forms of payment.

Nov 7th, 2011