Just as the words ‘COVID’, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘challenge’ have entered the common lexicon of 2020, so too has ‘contactless’, with customers increasingly wary about the venues they visit and the surfaces they touch for fear of the spread of Coronavirus.
For many retailers, that’s prompting a shift to ‘contactless’ service where they deliver the experience of retail while minimising the sites that customers physically touch.
So how can the average bricks and mortar store embrace the new trend of contactless? Here are our top tips on providing contactless retail.
Due to Australia’s ongoing shift to a cashless society, contactless payments are one of the easiest measures to implement in-store.
The technology relies on near field communication (NFC) that allows consumers to simply hold their smartphone or debit/credit card near a payment processor to make payments without touching the terminal.
With digital wallets including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay, the technology is proving more popular than ever and is further facilitating the nation’s transition to a fully cashless society.
A step beyond contactless payments is a completely checkout-free retail experience. Although this is being trialled in some areas of Australia, it’s a trend yet to truly take hold but is becoming more popular in countries like the United State.
Forbes explains checkout-free is typically delivered in a couple of ways:
- Scan-and-Go mobile technology
- AI Computer Vision (aka AICV)
And they work like this…
Scan and go tends to rely on a retailer’s app, which customers use to scan the products they intend to buy as they shop within an outlet. They then pay electronically for these items using the QR code on the app as they exit.
AICV works slightly differently. Customers scan the app on their phone as they walk in, take whatever they want in-store, and simply walk out. The app and artificial intelligence take care of the rest, charging them as they leave.
In many ways, this is the ultimate in contactless retail but still requires a patron to physically enter the premises.
E-commerce is hardly new but has dramatically increased in popularity throughout Covid-19. It sees customers shop online and then either have their products delivered to their door, or they physically go and pick them up, which brings us to…contactless pick-up.
E-commerce combined with click and collect has been emerging as one of the major innovations in real-world retail over recent years. In many ways, it plays to both the strengths of online convenience and the experience of real-world retail.
2020 has seen this further evolve to contactless pick-up, where the consumer is not actually required to enter the store, but rather collects their item at a predetermined location, usually just outside the door of the shop or shopping mall.
In many cases the customer doesn’t even need to exit their vehicle, they simply drive up and the pre-ordered and previously paid for the item is deposited directly into the boot of their vehicle.
It’s not just customer-facing tasks where retailers are becoming more diligent about reducing contact between people. Many stores are also looking to protect their staff from unnecessary contact with both the public and other employees.
In major retailers, that’s seen the installation of Perspex screens around the Point of Sale and service areas.
But another area where retailers should consider limiting the sharing of items is in the use of cabinet and drawer keys.
That’s where smart keys like those by InVue are becoming popular.
The technology sees a store associate allocated a single digital key which can be programmed to open all the cabinets and drawers they are responsible for.
Because the key is specifically allocated to the sales associate, it eliminates multiple staff touching the key, and reduces physical interaction.
Contactless set to stay
With Covid-19 delivering such a radical change to how society views hygiene and physical contact, contactless retail is likely to prove a trend set to remain long after the current crisis ends.
Many of the contactless strategies that retailers implement now will not just serve to reassure their customer this year but also over the extended period ahead.