What Every Retailer Should Know About the Future of Contactless Operations
Consumer demand for contactless service and curbside delivery was already on the rise before 2020. But when the pandemic began, it skyrocketed. Since then, 85 percent of consumers increased their use of curbside pickup; 60 percent now cite a lack of contactless services as a deal-breaker for whether they do business somewhere.
This all points to a future of retail that will be more of a hybrid of the old and the new, with in-person, online, and contactless pickup all playing essential roles moving forward. If you’re still unsure of how to navigate the new technology challenges in the retail industry brought on by the pandemic, here are four ways to make a hybrid model work for your brand as you reopen your business and plan for the future:
1. Take advantage of free trials.
Improving the online shopping experience doesn’t mean every store needs an in-house coding team to stay competitive. There are already various platforms and partners that can do all the behind-the-scenes work for you, allowing you to continue taking care of customers. The biggest challenge will be deciding which works best for your store. That’s where free trials come in.
Most technology services have some sort of trial that you can use to sample all the different options available. There’s no need to settle. Take the time to find the best online shopping experience for your brand before you commit.
2. Don’t shy away from the nitty-gritty.
Once you’ve chosen a solution, get to know it well. Most contactless service solutions have seemingly limitless features and customizations that help you get exactly what you need. Therefore, take the time to familiarize yourself. It’s up to you to get into the nitty-gritty and find the options that work best for you and your customers.
3. Get it out there ASAP.
The future of retail is already here, which means any time wasted delaying the adoption of these tech-driven techniques is time lost to competitors. Once you've set up your chosen service the way you like it, don’t hesitate to implement it. While this might result in a few unintentional flubs, as long as you’re on the lookout for these problems and fix them quickly, your customers will be much happier than if you delayed deployment in the hopes of making everything perfect.
4. Listen to your customers.
One reason to get everything out quickly is because the most constructive criticism you’ll receive will come from your customers. Even if you think you have the best online shopping experience around, it’s your customers who will have the final say on the matter. Just be sure to ask for feedback regularly; this will make your retail operation strong and should result in repeat business.
While the pandemic might have brought it sooner than anybody expected, it’s important to understand that what’s happening today isn’t temporary — it’s the future of retail. If you haven’t already, now is the time to improve the online shopping experience so it works not only as a temporary solution, but also as a permanent fixture of your business.
Annabel Maw is director of communications at JotForm, a free online form builder and form creator.