The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly changed the retail industry as we know it. Due to this change, retail technology must rapidly adapt to best suit the post-pandemic world that we're entering. “Post-pandemic” doesn't necessarily mean that that the pandemic has entirely ended, however. It refers to a world forever changed by COVID-19, and using innovative technology not to just survive, but to thrive in a new normal. Read on to explore five must-have post-pandemic retail technologies that are likely to be found in retail locations for years to come:
1. E-Commerce-Friendly Point of Sale
Of course, e-commerce was prevalent before the pandemic, but its popularity has soared during the pandemic and it will continue to do so in our post-pandemic world.
To accommodate this trend, retailers should have multiple sales channels, including both brick-and-mortar and online stores. To streamline business operations, the point of sale (POS) should be able to sync both online and offline transactions, inventory, promotions, and more. E-commerce and POS integration will be crucial in a post-pandemic market, and it's important to have a POS operation that can handle these modern demands.
2. NFC Contactless Payments
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a need for people to limit the physical contact they have with public surfaces, and this need will continue for an extended period of time.
You can accommodate this by moving the payment pin pad farther away from the cashier, as well as making sure you have NFC contactless payment options available to reduce the number of people touching the pin pad.
3. Plastic Dividers and Guards
Plastic dividers and sneeze guards can help you provide safety and peace of mind across the board. On one hand, your staff is your best asset, so your top priority should be treating them well and protecting them as much as possible. On the other hand, plastic dividers and sneeze guards can also provide the same protection and peace of mind to your valuable customers.
Installing and maintaining these guards can be a surprisingly seamless process. Sneeze guards offer a smooth surface that's easy to wash and sanitize, and there are sneeze guards on the market that do not require any countertop mounting or drilling, meaning they can be set up in minutes and easily relocated.
4. Contactless Kiosk Solutions
Another technology that was popular pre-pandemic but will continue to flourish post-pandemic is the self-service kiosk. Kiosks for self-checkout and other uses provide a contactless solution that reduces human-to-human interaction.
Note that to effectively prevent the spread of disease, you must have a regular and frequent sanitation schedule that all staff members are aware of and adhere to.
5. BOPIS Text to Let Customers Know Their Purchase is Ready for Pickup
While convenience isn't a new customer desire by any means, it will perhaps become even more crucial in a post-pandemic world. One way to meet this demand is to offer a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) option to customers.
For customers who place orders online for curbside pickup, SMS text functionality to let them know their item is ready for pickup is critical. This functionality allows customers a contactless way to communicate with staff and pick up their purchases. Take the message a step further by including a phone number for customers to call when they've arrived in the designated area for pickup.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed retail indefinitely, there are several technologies that can help you not only adapt to the industry’s current demands, but thrive well into the future. Adopting an omnichannel presence that includes brick-and-mortar locations and an online store, as well as contactless payments, sneeze guards, self-service kiosks, and contactless delivery methods will help you sustain business while keeping your staff and customers safe.
Heidi Orpilla is the digital content specialist at Star Micronics, where she creates content about Star’s retail POS solutions for social media, the Star Micronics POS Blog, and more. Star is proud to offer a wide range of solutions for retailers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Related story: 2020 Retail Technology Report
Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics, a leading supplier of small printers, audio components, high-precision machine tools, and precision parts, where she creates content about Star’s retail POS solutions for social media, the Star Micronics POS Blog, and more.
Star is proud to offer a wide range of solutions for retailers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, including: the POSShield sneeze guard which is lightweight, portable, and does not require countertop mounting or drilling; tamper-proof labels to securely seal delivery, catering, and to-go food orders; CloudPRNT online ordering technology to help businesses quickly and easily leverage e-commerce; and more. To learn more, please visit the Star COVID-19 Toolbox here.