October 4, 2011, 1:58 PM

Consumers can pay with smartphones at OfficeMax

Customers can use the Google Wallet mobile payment service at 100 stores.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Approximately 100 locations accept Google Wallet transactions.

Little by little, the number of retailers where consumers can make purchases using Google Wallet, a smartphone-based payment, loyalty and offers scheme from Google Inc., is increasing. OfficeMax Inc. is the latest retailer to announce it now accepts Google Wallet transactions.

The office supplies retailer, No. 7 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, says 100 of its stores in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have the point-of-sale equipment to accept Google Wallet transactions. OfficeMax has nearly 1,000 stores nationwide. The retailer did not respond to an inquiry about when its other stores would receive the equipment.

Announced in May, Google Wallet became available to consumers with Sprint’s Nexus 4G phones in September. At OfficeMax, Google Wallet users will be able to complete a transaction, redeem coupons and receive points in the OfficeMax MaxPerks Rewards loyalty program with a single tap of a phone against a contactless reader.

“OfficeMax is interested in using the very latest technology to deliver a faster, easier and personalized in-store shopping experience for our customers, and mobile payments with Google Wallet lets us do that,” says Ryan Vero, OfficeMax executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.

Google Wallet relies on Near Field Communication technology to enable contactless payments. NFC enables two-way communication between NFC devices, such as for completing a payment by waving a smartphone with a built-in NFC chip near an NFC reader.

Google Wallet is not alone in competing for retailer acceptance. Isis, the mobile commerce firm started by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, along with Visa Inc.’s Digital Wallet and American Express Serve, all are vying for room at the cash register.

Merchant acceptance is critical, says Todd Ablowitz, president of consulting firm Double Diamond Group LLC. “This missing link on all the rollouts has been ubiquitous merchant acceptance,” Ablowitz says. “If you can get merchant acceptance, provided Google is able to get access to handsets (Handset makers back mobile payment technology http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/09/28/handset-makers-pledge-support-mobile-payments-stores), you’ve got a combination that could succeed.”

OfficeMax is No. 79 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300.

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