How to Adapt ASAP for Contactless Holidays
Thanksgiving dinner, jingle bells, gingerbread, New Year celebrations — even amid a pandemic, the “most wonderful time of the year” is fast approaching. And even though social distancing will likely still be in effect, people will still be excited to celebrate and come together, even getting creative about office holiday parties.
There are a lot of variables when it comes to how your customers will be shopping this holiday season, but one thing looks certain: they’re going to start earlier this year. And amid COVID-19, there’s a massive spotlight on safety for many retailers.
Why Contactless is Needed in Your Physical Stores
In most cases, your customers will prefer the least possible amount of physical contact with your staff, whether shopping in-store or picking up orders. And that’s not all.
Consumers of all ages have downloaded shopping apps and tried curbside pickup for the first time. And several analysts and market researchers predict a percentage of consumers — as high as 35 percent to 45 percent — will keep doing so post-COVID-19.
With nearly half of consumers using methods like tap-to-go credit cards and mobile wallets, contactless payments will be a key component to making your customers feel safe.
Also, research shows 38 percent of consumers check in-store item inventory before they commit to visiting a store. If your stores don’t provide that service or if it's not up-to-date, you could be losing a third of those consumers — plus profits. Retailers need to provide that essential technology for reliable, real-time inventory information.
Stay Calm, You’ll Get There
For many retailers, the shift towards tech-first customer service can be overwhelming. From implementing buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) to curbside pickup to contactless, there are a lot of solutions that retailers can lean on, and it doesn’t have to be a tough transition.
One easy, cost-effective place to start is to use anti-microbial coating for retail devices to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on point-of-sale devices, PIN pads, self-checkouts, touchscreens, scanners and more.
And despite the high growth in online adoption, 78 percent of grocery shoppers said they’ll still prefer brick-and-mortar stores — although there will be a heightened awareness of safety and cleanliness that’s likely to last long after the pandemic. The response to safety is convenience: people will stick with what’s easier and better in the long term. That’s why self-checkout and mobile scanning usage has grown in the past few months; these technologies are both easy to use and feel safer.
To make sure your in-store and online purchasing systems are up and running for peak season readiness, consider partnering with a technology provider that's able to remotely monitor, maintain and manage your technology to make sure it’s all integrated seamlessly and running without interruption.
If there are any problems, your provider can address them before they can disrupt your shoppers or your business. That not only protects and promotes your bottom line, it also strengthens loyalty by making sure your brand promise makes it to every end customer, whether they’re in-store or visiting your website.
Making the Season Bright
No matter which year it is, holiday season is central to retailers finishing with strong year-end profits and, for most, it’s much more important this year. By providing the best possible customer service — which is safe, easy and intuitive — you’ll make the season bright on many levels.
David Wilkinson is president and general manager for retail at NCR Corp., a leader in banking and commerce solutions, powering incredible experiences that make life easier.