Especially true for post-COVID retail, a touch-free way of checking out has never been more appealing for both retailers and customers.
Even though many retailers have already or are in the process of reopening for business, customers are still expressing concerns over their health and safety when shopping for goods in-store. And retailers have the same concerns for the safety of their staff.
Both retailers and customers are taking every precaution available to them, from wearing masks to avoiding touching products and checkout points as much as possible. And right now, retailers have a unique opportunity to innovate these touch-points and their customer experience by offering digital payment solutions.
With contactless and digital payment solutions growing in popularity, more retailers are taking steps to incorporate digital payment options into their retail environments. There’s a good reason for this — more customers want and expect easy, convenient, and quick ways to pay for their purchases, without hand-to-hand interactions.
Given the post-COVID climate, there’s arguably never been a better time to introduce digital payment options into your retail environment.
What does digital payment look like in physical retail?
Just a decade ago, the payment processing industry was dominated by a handful of players like Visa and Mastercard. Fast forward to today, where 500+ companies are providing payment services to merchants. Many payment options are now highly specialised and tailored to individual retailers, and as a result, expectations for payment options have increased.
One solution driving the shift to digital is the mobile card reader. Mobile card readers help retailers capitalize on sales outside of the store by processing payments without a huge equipment setup or fixed connection. These devices connect to a smartphone or tablet and are commonly used in pop-up shops and at special events, though some retailers have adopted them as their primary POS.
From the consumer side, digital wallets like ApplePay are further pushing the desire for faster, convenient payment solutions. Users can scan a retailer’s QR code at checkout and have the purchase deducted from their digital wallet.
We’re already living in a world gone mobile, so allowing mobile payments in stores is the next logical step. Mobile app payments and wearables are already helping to transform the checkout process, and will likely continue growing through the 2020s.
Another option is to provide tappable payment stations near or at the checkout for customers wanting a faster, interaction-free checkout experience for quick purchase of minimal items.
Benefits of digital payment and touch-free payment options
It’s worth noting that the ease of use that’s inherent with digital payments isn’t the only benefit. Retailers and customers alike experience unique opportunities to earn and provide loyalty and get more from the in-store experience.
For the retailer
From a business standpoint, integrating more digital payment options can be seen as a multifaceted competitive advantage.
For starters, research suggests that younger shoppers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more likely to leverage and expect flexible payment options compared to older generations. Millennials alone are 32% more likely to use their Smartphone to make a payment compared to shoppers aged 55+ and are 20% more likely to use digital payments on a regular basis. This can serve as an effective way to attract a younger audience to your retail store and maintain their business.
In addition, retailers can use digital payment solutions as part of their marketing strategy. Unlike cash, cheques, or a credit card swipe-and-sign, retailers can implement newsletter signups and loyalty programs at the point of sale to continue the conversation after shoppers have left.
What’s more, digital payments allow for easier shopper data collection that can help them make informed inventory, branding, and marketing decisions based on their consumer behaviour.
This level of data collection is becoming increasingly important, as many loyalty and marketing programs are no longer turning consumers’ heads. Research shows that the average consumer belongs to roughly 15 loyalty programs but are only active in 6. The lack of engagement defeats the purpose of implementing and maintaining the program, and the ones who do engage don’t always pick up the slack. Younger shoppers are more drawn to programs that are personalized toward their needs and wants, and this is only possible when retailers are able to collect the right data on their shoppers’ habits.
POS solutions like Clover are enabling retailers to expand the in-store experience. More than a digital payments facilitator, Clover allows retailers to dive deeper into their sales and shopper data, use cross-promotional tools, create customer profiles directly from their credit card usage, and develop data-driven rewards programs.
For the consumer
Especially during (and after) COVID-19, digital payment solutions can facilitate touch-free payment options for customers that also keep staff safe. Customers are more in control over their payment options and can avoid handing over a card or cash that contributes to the spread of germs.
It also allows customers to keep their payment details private during a transaction, especially when using mobile wallets. They no longer have to risk pulling out a credit card in-store or having their financial details compromised. To date, contactless payments have been touted as being more secure than traditional credit card transactions.
Last but certainly not least, offering contactless payments may also solve one of the biggest long-standing challenges in retail: streamlining the checkout process. Customers are increasingly unwilling to wait and want to avoid standing in long lines. Contactless payments can help facilitate a faster checkout process to get customers out the door faster and make them thank you for saving them valuable time in the process.
How a better checkout improves the in-store experience
The checkout process is the last touchpoint retailers have with their customers, and many retailers simply aren’t interested in letting their customers walk out of the door so quickly. It’s the final chance to make a good impression, build engagement, and earn loyalty.
Knowing this, it’s logical to think that speeding up this process makes for shorter interactions and gives retailers less time to make a memorable impression, but consider that speed and convenience can actually do the opposite.
These are factors that matter to the customer, and things they don’t find in just any retail store. And when you integrate digital solutions that can collect shopper data to fuel your loyalty programs and outreach, you still retain everything you need to further the conversation and promote positive future interactions with your shoppers.
Are touch-free payments the future of retail?
Mobile wallet adoption and digital payments are on the rise, signalling that a new era of retail payments is on the horizon. We entered the decade with a growing interest in eliminating the lines between online and offline channels, and by the end of the decade, we’ll find ourselves in a majority of shoppers who have never known one to exist without the other.
Touch-free payments and digital solutions aren’t just the future of retail, but are also quickly becoming the current reality. Retailers would do well to shift to more flexible options and cater to the consumer experience and enjoy it as a competitive advantage before it becomes more of an expectation.
WANT TO OPTIMIZE YOUR STORE FOR A BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
At CBSF, we help countless retailers both large and small achieve just that. Our expert team of retail design specialists can help you realize a better in-store experience for your customers. Get in touch with us today so we can show you why so many retailers trust us with their retail design goals.