Apple Pay is struggling to gain traction outside of the US market, according to research specialist Timetric. The service launched in the US 18 months ago and has proved relatively strong there with most of its total usage of $10.9bn last year coming from Apple’s domestic market.
However, it’s facing resistance from both banks and consumers as well as battling some technical challenges elsewhere, Reuters reported, citing the Timetric research. While the service is reported to be popular among Apple diehards in markets like the UK, China and Australia, it’s failing to win large numbers of new users outside of that core group.
Apple Pay is currently available in six countries and the number of banks offering the service is limited, although it has grown in recent weeks with some new banks signing up in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The $10.9bn total transaction figure is seen as relatively small, especially given the potential size of the mobile payments market. In key market China, around $1trn in mobile payments was processed last year, much of it by Alibaba and Tencent, according to iResearch data.
Part of the problem has been technical issues. In Australia, where Apple Pay only launched last month, there have been a number of technical failures. “Bendigo Bank is experiencing some unforeseen technical issues in accepting Apple Pay payments at selected merchant terminals,” a Bendigo spokeswoman old Reuters.
But Apple said that Bendigo’s experience isn’t representative and that new technology can take time to win over a wide customer base. The company is continuing its push to make Apple Pay a success internationally.
Analysts told Reuters that Apple’s relatively slow country-by-country rollout of the service is a problem for it and sees it coming up against fast-developing mobile payments businesses from domestic banks in markets like the UK, Australia and Canada.
Juniper Research said $14bn was spent via contactless cards in the UK last year with consumers now comfortable with using them. They’re therefore unwilling to make the extra effort to register their cards for Apple Pay so they can use their phone or Apple Watch instead. A similar situation has been seen in Australia with Reuters quoting an unnamed retailer saying uptake had been slow.
This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday
2015 was the year of the mobile wallet. But despite the fast take-up, the payment method didn’t quite take off. However, the conditions are right for mobile wallets to really take flight this year.
Mobile payments are set to expand fast over the next 12 months with Samsung in the vanguard, especially in the US where it’s market leader, and in China where it will debut next year.
Now I know a lot of people think “Apple” when you talk about mobile payments. That’s just one consequence of Apple’s image as an innovator and it has meant Apple Pay’s rollout in 2015 got A LOT of attention.
But it would be wrong to ignore other players because, a bit like the rise of Android phones compared to the iPhone, they’re often the ones making the tech truly universal rather than just cool.
So, back with Samsung. The Korean tech giant is going to expand its Samsung Pay ‘mobile wallet’ to its lower-priced phones within the next year, according to a Reuters interview with Thomas Ko, global co-general manager of Samsung Pay.
The service debuted in 2015 in South Korea and the US via the company’s newer high-end phones only. But with Samsung offering a huge number of phones across the price range and it being the global smartphone leader, Samsung Pay’s extension to more (and more affordable) phone models will be key in helping to democratise mobile payments.
Samsung will also be helped by the fact that it uses technology already widely used by stores, rather than requiring special equipment like Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Will the expansion mean the US becomes more mobile wallet-friendly? That’s hard to call. So far, it’s one country that has been relatively slow to adopt new payment technology. Not only that, it’s not as if swiping a smartphone to pay is really any easier than swiping a credit/debit card.
But… the situation is changing. And with Samsung already the mobile wallet market leader in the US and planning to add an online payments service (thus competing with current king PayPal), it’s determined to make America sit up and take notice.
Hey, guess what – e-commerce is becoming really important to the luxury sector but not enough luxury brands quite ‘get it’ yet.
OK, tell us something we don’t know. But cynicism aside, it’s always interesting when someone pulls that kind of information together and puts it into context. And that’s what L2’s latest Digital IQ Index for fashion has done.
I decided not to cover this story when it came out last week as the headline that Burberry’s doing so well in digital didn’t really throw up any surprises. But digging deeper, it stunned me how so many luxury brands are still not thinking truly digital.
Why does it matter? Well, as much as 83% of luxury growth last year came from online sales. A year earlier the figure was just 33%, up from a pretty pathetic 5% from 2010 to 2013 (I say pathetic, of course, because the mass-market had been happily getting online for years before that).
Why is luxury so slow?
Not that it’s such a surprise that luxury has been slow coming to the table. The sector’s $129bn in offline apparel sales are pretty impressive without the relatively tiny $210m in online sales. But with the latter figure set to double in five years and continue soaring after that, and with many consumers increasingly expecting a sophisticated approach to online, luxury can’t continue to bury its head in the sand.
Some brands are getting it right – very right. L2 said that the top 10 brands accounted for less than a quarter of that $129bn in offline sales. But online, they account for 65% of sales – yes, you read that right. On the downside, it also means that plenty of brands are getting it wrong – very wrong!
From genius to feeble – how brands fare
Anyway, the report looks at a large number of luxury brands and how they’ve performed online generally and in e-commerce, taking into account the many features designed to make the user journey easier/more pleasurable.
So, who’s doing well? Yes, Burberry’s out there in front (as it usually is, although it did drop back a little in last year’s list). It beats Kate Spade by one point with both given ‘genius’ status by L2. Burberry stands out for its well-rounded approach to both established platforms and emerging ‘cool kid’ platforms like Periscope and SnapChat, and for its upgraded mobile channel.
Burberry has invested heavily in improving the buying experience on mobile and its mobile penetration tripled after it updated its m-commerce channel.
Cole Haan was also singled out for praise in this area and for reducing mobile checkout from around 15 clicks to one thumbprint by using ApplePay.
Plenty of other brands are getting it right too. Digitally ‘gifted’ brands in L2’s list include Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Michael Kors, Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg and Dolce & Gabbana. Valentino also came into the gifted category, which is great given that it was so slow getting online in the first place. In fact the New York Times said that since arriving on Instagram, the brand has posted more than almost any other. Go Valentino!
But L2 is pretty scathing about some other luxury labels. Chanel, Paul Smith, Balenciaga, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang and Dior may be fashion influencers to you and I, but L2 said they’re digitally ‘average’. It also said Chloé and Pucci are ‘feeble’. And Céline, Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Kenzo, Miu Miu, Sergio Rossi and Vivienne Westwood are ‘challenged’. Ouch!
What’s the problem?
Some brands are doing lots of things wrong, it seems. That can include not bothering to find out any extra information about their customers online, apart from their gender and birthday. While face-to-face they’re falling over themselves to find out as much as they can about them in order to improve their in-store shopping experience, online, they just don’t seem to care. Bizarre.
And many aren’t global enough online, even though they are offline. They appear to think their brands are strong enough not to have to speak to potential customers globally in their own languages. Big mistake says L2.
Any more faux pas? Yes plenty. One of the most interesting is that they don’t get that search is key and a social media ad video strategy isn’t enough to make them visible. Paid search is being neglected, which is a major obstacle to growth in an increasingly crowded e-commerce space, L2 said.
There’s more, a whole lot more but I doubt many people would read that far if I reported it all. It does seem strange that such a report full of criticisms could come out as late as 2015. We live in a world in which online just shouldn’t be ignored by so many companies that are so far ahead of the pack in so many other areas.
Can’t wait for next year’s list to see whether the “must try harder” message has got through.
This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday
Below then, are 10 of the posts you loved the most on the relaunched F&M site this year. It’s an interesting exploration of subjects as varied as big data and viral videos, as well as the more gimmicky, yet PR-worthy role technology can often play. Think drones, Oculus Rift, the ALS #icebucketchallenge, and yet more on wearable tech.
It’s somewhat hard to imagine the scene in Cupertino earlier this week – savvy tech journalists alongside a bevy of Apple employees, a handful of celebs and some of the world’s most-established fashion editors.
Like a who’s who of Angela Ahrendts’ fashion contact book, everyone from Olivier Zahm, founder of Purple magazine, to Vogue editor-in-chiefs including Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue, Angelica Cheung of Vogue China, Emmanuelle Alt of Vogue Paris and Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia willingly took a break from their New York Fashion Week schedules to fly in especially. When Apple calls…
Lisa Armstrong at the Daily Telegraph suggested if the Apple Watch is to seduce us, first it must be able to woo us with its looks rather than its brains. Was she impressed? Ultimately, yes. Like others, the customisation factor particularly resonated: “Where Apple’s watch leaves others standing is in the almost infinite ways it can be further individualised.” Indeed to many, this was the surest sign of Apple attempting to align itself with the way the fashion industry treats accessories.
It was this very focus on customisation, however, that led to Time magazine giving one of the toughest reviews out there. Author Misty White Sidell referred to the launch of the Apple Watch as an attempt to kill the joy of personal style. “In a worst-case scenario for fashion, Apple will not only attain a monopoly on the timepiece market, but also the confidence to wield a larger impact on how we dress ourselves each day. The watch is no doubt an indication of how Apple will approach future fashion products, offering the masses a constrictive framework in which to dress themselves, all under the guise of customizable ‘self expression’. And that places personal style in its purest form at risk—inhibiting a consumer’s right to varied choice.” She referred to every additional fashion creation from Apple as inadvertently likely to create a less diverse shopping landscape. “The more Apple invades the fashion market, the more it will look to create a robotic consumerist culture (something it’s already done with tech)—in turn manipulating the greatest enjoyments of style and personal expression.”
Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times, though providing a positive review overall, went in relatively hard as well. “It’s definitely a step forward,” she wrote. “But does it rewrite the rules of our aesthetic expectations? No.” On that customisation element, she added: “The funny thing is, while I understand why they find this sort of choice extraordinary in the tech world, it’s par for the course in fashion, which points up some of the gulf between the two sectors; What they find revolutionary makes us want to yawn.”
Over at Vogue International, Suzy Menkes wasn’t overly fussed by the design either. “From a fashion point of view, the external aesthetic seemed neutral: neither super-stylish nor repellent. I would imagine that geeks would love it more than aesthetes,” she wrote. But she peppered her story with what feels almost like conceding to its inevitability: “Yet smartphones have already transformed the fashion world in a way we never imagined, bringing backstage to the wide world and turning shows into a forest of phones and instant images and videos. The phone and the computer have been responsible for bringing fashion to everyone. I suspect that I, as a non-digital specialist, would fail to use this device to its full capacity. But I like the idea of setting the visual aspects according to my mood. And perhaps my wardrobe.”
In comparison, Fashionista very openly referred to the Apple Watch as one of the best wearable tech offerings out yet. It also praised its design, associating it very smoothly with the luxury market. “We may have just been imagining things, but the combination of the display’s smooth gradients, the leather band and the high-shine metallics gives the watch a distinctly Burberry feel. Not that Apple changed its design philosophy based on hiring Angela Ahrendts, but the vibe is there. In any case, all those luxury hires seem to have paid off.”
WWD [subscriber access] questioned whether Apple’s marketing savvy and brand reputation would be enough to beat out the more accessories-focused brands like Swatch group (due to unveil its own smartwatch next year), or even Will.i.am, who is plotting his own for introduction in 2015. But the fashion trade publication also highlighted an important point for retailers — the fact Apple has created an entire platform that provides new methods of interaction in the retail environment. “The Apple Watch allows a consumer to confirm a purchase via fingerprint with iTouch and now with the release of Apple Pay, there is a financial system and a platform that allows developers and retailers to integrate this into their payment transactions,” wrote digital news and features editor, Rachel Strugatz.
The Business of Fashion provided a comprehensive overview of the device, outlining six underlying principles it believes form the foundations of the company’s strategy for “igniting and dominating the rapidly emerging wearable technology market, just as the iPod did for music, the iPhone did for smartphones and the iPad has done for tablets”. In doing so, it likewise highlighted some other areas of consideration beyond design, one of the most interesting ones of which was in its analysis of the need for new selling spaces for the more luxury version of the watch. “Can Apple really expect to sell a luxury-priced Apple Watch Edition in crowded stores staffed by personnel in blue t-shirts and khakis?” editor-in-chief Imran Amed asked. He expects Apple’s hire of Angela Ahrendts to lead to the brand rolling out a unique selling environment that lives up to the new product – perhaps a luxury Apple Watch shop-in-shop or a standalone deemed high-end and tailored enough to support it. From a design perspective, he also said he didn’t expect the impact on the fashion and luxury watch market to be too significant just yet. “Having seen and touched Apple Watch in person, I think traditional Swiss luxury watchmakers can rest easy — for now,” he wrote.
That “for now” comment from the BoF is particularly pertinent. As I myself wrote for WGSN [subscriber access]: “Apple has, time and time again, taken a category that already exists (mp3 players, smartphones and tablets as the most obvious examples) and redeveloped it in such a way, with design so succinctly at the heart of it, that it becomes a game changer. Comparative to all the other options out there in the wearable tech / smart watch / fitness tracking device market, this absolutely feels like that again.”
Indeed to return to Amed: “This is just the beginning for the Apple Watch and like its iPod, iPhone and iPad predecessors, I’d expect the product to evolve significantly over time.” Down the road, there’s a wealth of disruption looking likely, especially when you turn to the Millennial market (and under), who are no longer used to wearing a traditional watch, but rather relying on their smartphone. Here’s betting Apple doesn’t have too much trouble getting them back to looking at their wrists.
As Sir Jonathan Ive, SVP of design at Apple, narrates in the video: “I think we’re now at a compelling beginning – actually designing technology to be worn and to be truly personal.”