Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Oct. 17 said it has added the ability for consumers to not only pay for goods purchased from certain retailers with the Google Wallet service, but redeem coupons and earn reward points in the same transaction.
What this means is that a consumer using a Google Android-based Samsung Nexus S 4G smartphone can walk into a Jamba Juice and order a beverage. When the consumer gets to the checkout counter, he or she may tap the phone against a point-of-sale system and pay for the drink. Wallet will deduct the consumer's digital coupon without making him or her whip out a piece of paper or rewards card to get stamped.
Other participants joining Jamba Juice in this Google Wallet SingleTap effort include American Eagle Outfitters, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy's, OfficeMax, The Container Store and Toys "R" Us in the U.S.
The search engine provider launched its Google Wallet mobile payment service Sept. 19 in New York City and San Francisco. The service leverages near-field communication short-range wireless technology to let users tap Android smartphones against NFC-enabled checkout systems to pay for goods.
Wallet will work at over 20 retailers and restaurants, and Visa, American Express, Citi, MasterCard and Discover have joined Wallet as credit card partners.
Although the service appears to have made some strides, there are certain challenges. The most glaring is the fact that Wallet will only currently work on Sprint's Nexus S 4G smartphone, which severely limits the applicability of the service. Google is working hard to enable the Wallet application on additional Android phones.
Moreover, even when Wallet becomes available on more handsets, there is no certainty consumers want to tap and pay, or at least they don't necessarily want to go out of their way to do it. Purchasing a phone that supports the Wallet application certainly falls under the banner of going out of their way.
To give consumers an incentive to use Wallet, Google and its Wallet retail partners are trying to entice shoppers with coupons and deals. Retailers offer coupons and rewards points for frequent shoppers, while Google has set up Google Offers, a local deals service that has spread across the country to challenge Groupon and LivingSocial in roughly 40 markets since April.
To that end, the Offers tab in Google Wallet now boasts a new "Featured Offers" section with discounts that are exclusive to Google Wallet. Currently, these include 15 percent off at American Eagle Outfitters, 10 percent off at The Container Store, 15 percent off at Macy's and a $2 smoothie at Jamba Juice. Again, no paper is involved. Users may save favorite coupons in Google Wallet so that they'll be cashed in via SingleTap.
Additionally, Foot Locker, Guess, OfficeMax and American Eagle Outfitters are providing loyalty cards for Google Wallet to help users accrue reward points as they shop.
"It's still early days for Google Wallet, but this is an important step in expanding the ecosystem of participating merchants to make shopping faster and easier in more places," explained Google Director of Emerging Markets Spencer Spinnell.