Why Contactless Payments Are the Future of Brick-and-Mortar Retail
The future always promises uncertainty. That said, all indications are that contactless payments are ingrained in brick-and-mortar retail for the long haul.
Without massive unforeseen disruption, the COVID-assisted trend towards cashless, fully contactless checkout will gain further momentum.
The 1,000 customers we surveyed in our State of Contactless Payments 2021 Report only confirmed our belief in contactless payments as an essential feature of retail businesses.
Eighty-three percent of those customers have used contactless payments in the past 12 months. Furthermore, 57 percent will choose a business with contactless payment channels over a competitor without contactless payment options.
We know that health is one driver of contactless payments. Mastercard, which has a crystal-clear view of consumer payment habits, saw a 40 percent increase in shoppers’ contactless payments amid the pandemic. We also know convenience is swaying customers to embrace contactless.
Our data suggests that consumers have no plans of ditching contactless payment methods, even post-pandemic. Pandemic or no pandemic, shoppers like the convenience that tap-and-go, mobile wallets, apps, and other contactless channels provide.
We firmly believe that contactless payments are the future of buying. We have the numbers to back it up.
Customers Are Using Contactless Payments, and Nobody’s Forcing Them to
The 83 percent of customers who used contactless payment channels in the past year did so under their own volition. Nobody forced them, and yet they chose to go contactless.
Critics might say, "big deal, they tried contactless once. People will try anything once."
It’s a fair point. However, as we dug deeper into the data, we found that customers are not using contactless payments just one time.
Thirty-five percent of respondents said they use contactless payments “most of the time.” Another 37 percent of respondents said they use contactless payments about half of the time. Less than 1 percent said they never use contactless payments and have no desire to start using them.
The vast majority of customers polled are using contactless payments at least half of the time that they shop, and for many of them, the frequency is significantly higher.
And, keep in mind, they’re doing so because they choose to. If you want to see what the future of an industry is, look at the choices of those who keep that industry alive.
Contactless Payments Can Still Get Better
The National Retail Federation (NRF) found that eight in 10 shoppers are using contactless payment methods. And yet, we found that contactless payment systems can get even better.
Customers told us what would make them even more inclined to use contactless payments, perhaps every time that they shop. Twenty percent of respondents have avoided certain contactless payment channels because they were slow. Another 20 percent have had an experience where the payment channel didn’t work. Another 21 percent of respondents voiced concerns about security.
These are significant problems that can undermine confidence in your contactless payment systems and organization as a whole.
To address them, you may:
- Invest in high-quality, industry-leading contactless payment software.
- Ensure that the software is compatible with your pre-existing technological infrastructure.
- Educate staff and/or hire outside help to maintain your contactless payment channels.
- Explain to customers, either through signage or other means, that contactless payments incorporate multi-level security measures to protect the shopper’s personal information.
We know that customers are willing to use contactless payments more often if you address these problems. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they would use contactless payments more if they knew that their data would be safe. In addition, 27 percent feel that they don’t always understand how to use contactless payments, and would use contactless checkout more if they were educated.
The No. 1 roadblock to further adoption of contactless payments, though? Twenty-nine percent of respondents said that contactless options are simply not available often enough.
In other words, the biggest roadblock to contactless payments is organizations that don’t offer contactless payments.
Customers Are Planning to Use Contactless Payments More Often
Customers see contactless payments as an asset to brick-and-mortar retail, so much so that 57 percent of them will choose where to shop based on the availability of contactless checkout. We also know that customers plan to use contactless payments more often in the next year. More than 44 percent anticipate a major increase in their contactless checkouts, while 30 percent expect a more tempered increase.
We have to believe that customers are using contactless payments more often because they enjoy the experience.
We know that 47 percent of respondents see the convenience of contactless checkout as its most appealing feature. In addition, 35 percent cite health and safety-related reasons as the primary appeal of contactless payments.
While it’s helpful to know customers’ motivations, the primary takeaway for retail organizations is this: customers want to use contactless payment options more often.
The in-location experience should be crafted around the customer’s wishes. This has always been true and remains true today.
Today’s customer wants to be wowed, but they also don’t want to waste time. They don’t want to wait in line unnecessarily, and they surely don’t want to feel endangered.
With contactless payments, customers have discovered that they can check out faster and in a way they consider safer. As a retail organization seeking a competitive edge, convenience and safety aren’t optional — they’re foundational.
Contactless payments provide the convenience and safety that your customers demand. Because of this, the future of retail we envision is one with more contactless payments.
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-location experience, and reinforce brand messaging.
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant Screen Signage, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-store experience, and reinforce brand messaging. Prior to joining Raydiant, Bobby served as the COO of Revel Systems where he worked on the front lines with over 25,000 brick and mortar retailers. Bobby has held leadership positions including CEO, CRO, and VP of Sales at companies such as Highfive, Limos.com, EVO2, Verizon Wireless, LookSmart, ServerPlex Networks, and Sprint/Nextel. When Bobby's not spending his time thinking about the future of brick and mortar retail, you can find him traveling, reading, or tending to his vegetable garden.