Apple Pay Coming to the Web
At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) yesterday in San Francisco, Apple finally announced that Apple Pay is coming to the web this fall. Mac users will be able to pay online in Safari using a “Pay with Apple Pay” button, and authenticate their purchase using Touch ID on their phone or watch. Previously, Apple Pay could only be used in select iOS apps, as well as at physical retail stores.
This news is music to the ears of retailers, as online shopping figures to get even easier for consumers. Previously limited to mobile transactions — a growing but still small percentage of most retailers’ revenues — Apple Pay will now be available to the largest segment of online shoppers: those on the web (i.e., those that don't shop in apps). Take heed, PayPal. There's a new competitor — and an extremely formidable one at that — in the online payments space.
Staples Launching Same-Day Delivery in Select Markets
Staples announced this morning that it will begin offering same-day delivery for online orders in select metropolitan areas. Orders placed before 3 p.m. local time can be delivered by 7 p.m. for a fee of $14.99. The service, named "Staples Rush," is currently available in parts of Boston, Dallas and New York City, and will soon be available in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
Staples is the latest retailer to make speed of delivery a selling point for online shoppers. As consumer demand for instant gratification intensifies, brands have been forced to compete on how fast they can get online orders delivered to impatient customers. This of course is in large part a response to Amazon.com and its Prime shipping program. Yet what remains to be seen is one, do most retailers have the infrastructure in place to profitably do same-day delivery (evidence to date suggests they don't) and two, does the consumer demand for same-day delivery justify the expense? Research has shown that consumers much prefer free shipping over fast shipping, and are willing to wait if they don't have to pay.
Return Policies Impacting Retail Workers’ Pay
Some of the country’s leading department stores allow returns for up to one year, like Nordstrom, or set no time limit at all, like Macy’s. The commissions paid to sales associates at Macy’s can be affected by returns made within six months, while returns at Nordstrom affect workers for up to a year. Union leaders argue these time windows are too long and fuel a culture of returns that has added instability to the paychecks of retail workers.
Much like speed of delivery, a retailer's return policy has become a critical differentiator for shoppers. Therefore, retailers are making their return policies as attractive to consumers as possible, often by extending the time in which a customer has to return an item or offering free returns on online purchases. While this is good news for consumers, it's putting more financial burdens on retailers — inventory management is as challenging as ever — and negatively impacting commission-based store associates. Much like discounting, consumers have been conditioned to expect a flexible, easy return policy. The question is can things revert back to the way they once were? Here's a vote for no.