US retail’s recent rush to adopt contactless payments

Image: Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated retailers to turn to technology to help their businesses plan better, increase productivity, and service their customers.

Contactless payments are one of the areas that, because of COVID-19, will change forever the way retailers do business.

Safer and faster checkout

safe retail shopping during COVID
Image: Anna Shvets

These RFID-enabled payments have been available for years but have surged in popularity during the pandemic.

Not only is contactless more hygienic – in the time of COVID-19, no one wants to touch cash that’s been touched by hundreds of strangers – but it also streamlines the entire checkout process.

While the pandemic may have provided a strong push toward a cashless society, customers could still choose to use a traditional payment card, rather than NFC technology, and be safer from virus exposure during the transaction because they are operating the card reader rather than handling cash.

However, because they use radio-frequency identification, contactless payments reduce time waiting in lines.

The “tap-and-go” process generally results in speedier transactions. While the transaction time for a chip-enabled card can take as long as 30 to 45 seconds, a contactless transaction can be as short as 10 to 15 seconds.

Global adoption of contactless payments

Contactless transactions build upon RFID and typically use NFC technology, the foundation for services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Globally, this method of payment is very popular. 

The United States, however, has been slow to adopt contactless payments.

In 2018, only 3% of cards in use in the United States were contactless, compared with 64% in the United Kingdom and up to 96% in South Korea, according to global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Even prior to the pandemic, Juniper Research reported that contactless payments would triple to $6 trillion worldwide by 2024, up from roughly $2 trillion this year.

OEM mobile wallet transactions were predicted to increase as banks expanded the use of contactless cards. 

In the U.S. market, contactless transaction values were expected to rise at an even higher rate than the global market, reaching $1.5 trillion by 2024, compared with the approximated $178 billion in 2020. 

Once COVID-19 hit, contactless payments began to surge.

By August 2020, the global contactless payment market was valued at $ 1.05 trillion by 2019 transaction value, and is now predicted to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 20.01% between 2020 and 2027.

Today, the global contactless payment market value is expected to surpass $ 4.60 trillion by 2027.

Customers have enough friction getting out to the store today. By offering contactless payments, retailers can provide an efficient, safe method for purchasing goods and services while enhancing the customer’s overall experience.


3 Operational benefits of 5G-powered IoT interconnectivity

5G networks have rolled out in only a handful of U.S. cities, but that momentum is growing.

Recent research from Barclays Corporate Banking suggests that 5G could supercharge the UK economy by up to £15.7 billion per year by 2025.

The technology is 20 times faster than 4G and will connect not just people, but interconnect and control machines, objects, and devices as well.

That speed, coupled with virtually no latency, means the new networks will nearly eliminate lag time.

1. Improving communications along the supply chain

For supply chain management, 5G provides greater connectivity and reliability, which will lead to improved communications between brands, transportation, and consumers.

While the technology will transform warehouse management through the use of the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and robots, it will also improve the in-store customer experience.

Providing 5G connectivity in physical stores means Internet of Things (IoT) devices can easily communicate on a fast, reliable network that doesn’t require too much power.

Because of their low power consumption, 5G networks can provide up to 10 years of battery life for low-power IoT devices.

2. Optimizing inventory visibility and management  

Image: Polina Tankilevitch 

Technology such as smart shelving, which uses many sensors to provide real-time inventory visibility and pricing updates, as well as dynamic pricing, automated checkouts, connected fitting rooms, and automatic replenishment will benefit from 5G networks.

In addition, the boost in speed will power retail analytics, inventory visibility, demand forecasting, and endless aisle technologies.

The faster network will enable more accurate real-time data to flow, ultimately facilitating smarter, more robust systems.

More operational and inventory decisions will be handled by automation.

Inventory, for example, will be tracked more quickly and accurately, which will improve forecasting quantities.

Sales associates won’t have to do manual inventory counts and can spend more time interacting with customers.

Having the right amount of stock on hand increases customer satisfaction, because — thanks to accurate inventory counts — products will be available on demand.

3. Boosting digital connectivity

Image: Gustavo Fring

5G promises to facilitate a whole new world of digital connectivity.

Mobile shoppers will benefit as the paths to purchase in even the busiest of stores will be smooth.

5G also offers low power consumption (a 90% reduction in network energy usage from 4G) and high reliability, which makes it well suited for the retail space.

For example, in China, the Shanghai Lujiazui L+ Mall uses the 5G digital indoor system, network connectivity across 12 floors and more than 140,000 sq. meters of floor area.

5G enables the connection of more devices than 4G and improves the responsiveness of wireless technologies.

Because of its ability to improve backend processes through its support of IoT devices, as well as the overall customer experience, 5G technology will rock retail’s world.


Curbside retail: here to stay, and simpler with Retail Pro Prism POS

Thinking out of the box and providing new ways for customers to connect with retail has long been critical for businesses to maintain loyal shoppers as well as to attract new prospects.

Sometimes, circumstances such as COVID-19’s mandated social distancing are the impetus for lasting changes.

Many retailers have had some omnichannel presence, but others have had little or even no experience; both groups have had to innovate and create new ways to connect with customers during COVID-19, many of whom wanted to shop but were reluctant to mingle with the public at large.

As a result, retailers’ new strategies are catering to those unique, and challenging, requests.

At a time when many are feeling overwhelmed, retailers that can offer convenience will be rewarded by shoppers.

Curbside pickup is one convenience strategy that has been refined in recent weeks and is likely to remain long after shoppers’ fears about going into stores have subsided.

Curbside: the final BOPIS frontier

Image: Gustavo Fring

Prior to March, many large retailers offered the ability to buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS).

The strategy lets customers shop round the clock, and then during business hours take delivery of the products at the retailer.

It may save the customer some time, but it’s more likely simply enabling a “time shift”: Instead of shopping for two hours between 10 and 8, BOPIS customers might shop for an hour online at midnight, and then stop on the way home from work to retrieve the items.

However, “stopping off” used to mean find a parking spot, enter the store, find the pickup location and finish the transaction.

All those steps ate up precious time.

Simplifying curbside pickup with Retail Pro POS

Retail Pro Prism mobile point of sale

Integrating curbside pickup into the process has made BOPIS much more efficient for the customer; the pre-ordered product is simply delivered to the customer waiting in the car.

That last step makes BOPIS far more convenient, and Retail Pro Prism mobile POS makes this step more convenient for your team.

With Retail Pro Prism you get the same deep functionality on any device you use – whether mobile or desktop, Apple, Android, or Windows – so your associates can meet your customer at their car with their order, POS in hand. This is useful for orders that were reserved online and still need to be rung up.

Customers who have been shopping with you online during COVID-19 may also bring returns with them when they come to pick up their order.

With Retail Pro Prism mobile POS, your sales associate can complete the return on the spot with the customer’s receipt. If the customer forgot their receipt, you can easily look up the transaction from the system or just look up the item in your inventory and enter it as a return transaction.

You can even sign your customer up for the integrated AppCard loyalty and rewards from the curbside.

Retail to go

Image: Christina Morillo

The number of orders placed online and picked up at brick-and-mortar stores by customers rose 208% between April 1 and April 20 compared with a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures the web transactions of 80 of the top 100 U.S. internet retailers.

If retailers keep the curbside option once they fully reopen, it will provide yet another delivery channel to their most busy customers.

Texas governor Greg Abbott recently allowed nonessential retail stores to start offering curbside pickup, or, as he called it, “retail to go.”

Even before the economic shutdown, some pharmacies were offering curbside service, such as CVS.

However, the drugstore chain didn’t offer the service at all of its outlets, and it was relatively unique in offering it.

Pre-COVID, curbside pickup was nowhere near as popular as it has become.

Looking into the future, it seems logical customers will want to retain this new convenience.

Convenience is going to drive the economy in the coming months, and possibly years.

While born out of necessity, customers are going to consider a once-novel curbside service part of the “new normal” retail experience.


Recessionary shoppers: convenience over experience?

Image: Andrea Piacquadio

For the past several years, retailers have seen two types of customers.

The first are those who, after living through a number of recessions, have determined they must protect their money at all costs.

They are experts on value, seeking deals, discounts and saving; they are coupon clippers.

The second have also weathered a number of economic slumps, but they see life as short and because money can disappear in the blink of an eye, time is more valuable than frugality.

That group is focused on convenience, and the motivation behind their spending money is to save time.

Both groups are important to retailers, and many shoppers today have traits of both types of consumers: They want to spend thoughtfully, not frivolously, and they are focused on efficiency.

Retailers that can demonstrate value for products or services that make customer lives easier or more fulfilling will therefore attract more loyal customers.

Value: the “Right” price or the “lowest” price?

Image: Artem Beliaikin

People always want a good value.

It’s not only those living on fixed incomes or those living on minimum wage but also professionals who are bargain hunters.

Off-price stores such as Nordstrom’s Rack and Saks Off Fifth boast customers from every economic strata—proof that savvy shopping does not discriminate.

However, the “right” price does not have to be the “lowest” price.

A strong value proposition that focuses on the benefits of the product or service may help nudge a cost-conscious customer to spring for the purchase now, rather than wait a few weeks or even months.

Buying time

Image: Jeffrey Paa Kwesi Opare

When value is coupled with the idea that a purchase could make one’s life easier, retailers have a winning strategy.

For example, buying a $400 robotic vacuum cleaner is less expensive than hiring a housekeeper, and also frees up time to spend time in a more pleasurable way.

In 2017, a study from the University of British Columbia not only found that people who bought time-saving products were happier, but that the findings were the same despite the respondent’s socioeconomic standing.

“The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people,” said UBC psychology professor and the study’s senior author Elizabeth Dunn, in a release about the research. “We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum.”

Outsourcing the work of getting products

Image: Sunyu Kim

Convenience really matters. Many people are looking for something that simplifies their busy lives while delivering a positive experience.

A 2019 report from Deloitte found that customers want to “outsource” the work of getting products.

Their focus has turned from focusing on the act of purchasing products to the act of using them.

Retailers that understand how to curate the “just right” selection of products will have a competitive advantage. For those stores, enabling convenience is baked into their foundation.

Other retailers, however, might find offer convenience more difficult.

From experience to efficiency

Many shops have invested in providing an entire experience around the act of shopping.

If these stores’ customers no longer consider the store the destination in and of itself and prefer a more efficient shopping experience, they will have to reassess the way they do business.

Convenience must be woven into the fabric of the retailer to provide a cohesive, integrated shopping experience, rather than a tacked-on, haphazard one, or, worse, one that is viewed as not genuine. Most importantly, retailers should view convenience as constantly evolving: People’s tastes change rapidly and what may be considered convenient today may tomorrow seem as dated as ornament beards.


7 Data Insights to Shape Your Retail Decisions Post COVID-19

Finding Opportunities in Your Business Data With Retail Pro Decisions

COVID-19 forced retailers worldwide to pivot fast to survive this unprecedented and wholly unexpected market downturn.

From shifting to ecommerce-only and fast fulfillment strategies, to staying connected with customers during lockdowns, your ability to adapt and take assertive action is crucial for your business to survive.

Now more than ever retailers must turn to their data to monitor KPIs and get insights that will help you combat the ongoing effects COVID-19 will have on consumer mindsets and economies.

Watch this webinar to see 7 insights you need to search out now from your data to help you shape your retail decisions post COVID-19 and position you to make the most of the shopping season remaining in 2020.

Watch this Retail Pro Decisions webinar to hear:

  • Smart ways retailers adapted to stay connected with customers and maintain retail operations
  • Why every retailer should re-evaluate the extent of data driving their strategy for customer engagement and inventory management
  • How to monitor every KPI with data from your POS, ERP, CRM, e-Commerce, and other critical applications integrated in Retail Pro Decisions visual analytics software
  • What insights you need to glean from your data now to shape your decisions as you reopen and reconnect with shoppers for the remainder of 2020


7 ideas para orientar sus decisiones de venta al detalle después de COVID-19 [seminario web]

COVID-19 obligó a los detallistas de todo el mundo a reinventarse rápidamente para sobrevivir a esta desaceleración del mercado sin precedentes y totalmente inesperada.

Desde cambiar a estrategias de entrega a domicilio y de comercio electrónico, hasta mantenerse conectado con sus clientes durante los bloqueos, su capacidad de adaptarse y tomar decisiones asertivas es crucial para que su negocio sobreviva. 

Ahora, más que nunca, los detallistas deben recurrir a sus datos para monitorear los principales indicadores de desempeño (KPIs) y obtener información que los ayudará a combatir los efectos continuos que COVID-19 tendrá en la mentalidad de los clientes y en la economía global. 

Mira este seminario web para ver 7 ideas que necesita buscar ahora en sus datos para orientar sus decisiones de venta al detalle después de COVID-19 y posicionarlo para aprovechar al máximo la temporada de compras que queda en 2020. 

Mira este seminario web de Retail Pro International y PA Latinoamericana para escuchar: 

  • Formas inteligentes que los detallistas han desarrollado para mantenerse conectados con sus clientes y seguir tocando las operaciones
  • Por qué todo detallista debería reconsiderar la extensión y las fuentes de datos que orientan su estrategia para el compromiso del cliente y la gestión de inventario
  • Cómo monitorear cada KPI de su negocio con datos de su PDV, ERP, CRM, comercio electrónico y otras aplicaciones críticas integradas en el software de análisis de Retail Pro Decisions
  • Qué información necesita obtener de sus datos ahora para orientar sus decisiones a medida que vuelve a abrir y se vuelve a conectar con los compradores para el resto de 2020 

Reopening your stores: optimize these 5 areas first

Stores are starting to reopen across the world, and we are watching this very, very carefully. 

We’re learning a ton of new things while watching what they are doing, because some of these stores are doing excellent business. 

In some cases, they are exceeding last year’s numbers!  Let’s take a look at what the most successful retailers are doing to make this happen. 

Overall, you have to approach opening as if you were opening for the first time. 

It has to have that level of excitement, that level of enthusiasm. 

So my first, best advice to you is to get super pumped up about opening! 

1. Store Presentation and Layout

This is the perfect time to reassess your store’s layout and shop-ability. 

You certainly want to organize your store so your shoppers can maintain the proper social distance from each other and still see all the great merchandise you have in stock. 

Here are some tips you can apply:

  • Start at the front door, and look inside your store as if you’re visiting for the first time.  Can you see all the way to the back wall? Can you identify key areas that you want to go to to see the merchandise?
  • The most important real estate in your store is the immediate right. Do we have some of our best merchandise there?
  • Many stores are putting markers on the floor that direct people through the store, creating a path to follow, much like grocery stores or Ikea have done. The benefit of this is that when your shoppers walk the path, they can see merchandise they might not have seen.  This is creating add-on sales!
  • As you walk the store, make sure your displays make people want to stop and check out the merchandise. Make the displays compelling with cross-merchandising, props, bundles, and multiple levels.
  • From each display that causes a shopper to linger, where will they go next? Merchandise your displays that lead the customer through the store, directing their eyes to the next great display of merchandise.
  • Signage is super important. Yes, you want to have signs that remind people to obey social distancing, but they don’t have to be negative or serious. A western apparel store put up signs that say, “There should be a cow’s distance between us!” Another store posted a sign that said, “If you can read the label on my jeans, then you’re too close!” Make it fun!
  • This is also a time to ensure you have excellent lighting that shows off and spotlights your great products.

2. Marketing

For many years, I have said that marketing should have a two-word definition, which is “Creating Demand.”

That means that any messaging you send out, whether it be by email, social media, or texting, should first be checked to see if the message makes anyone want to come to the store or the website, or to find out more.

If it doesn’t, rework it until it does.

  • I think the best messaging for reopening is, “We are back, we are safe, and we are ready for you!” Customers need to feel like you are welcoming a long, lost friend to the store.
  • Show them in your videos (you ARE doing videos, right?) and posts how you are working hard to keep the store clean, safe, and fun. 
  • There is a lot more activity in social media and emails now. More retail stores have had to quickly open up e-commerce sites, and the only way to promote those was to send out tons of social media posts and videos, and emails. So it’s noisier out there, and to compete you have to generate as much activity as everyone else. That means 2-3 emails per week, multiple posts on social media every day, and at least a couple of videos.
  • While I’m talking about videos, did you know that YouTube is the #2 search engine on the planet?  That means that you need to have your own YouTube channel, post all your videos on there, and make sure you tag them properly so people can find and watch them, and want to come to your store.

I have to confess that up until recently, I was not doing much with hashtags in social media. 

But I have come to learn that they are the best, most direct path to getting more customers to follow you. 

That said, they have to be the RIGHT hash tags – in other words, “#clothing” is not going to help you, but “#darkwashskinnydenim” will. 

Look at other stores and brands that you admire and take a look at their hashtags. 

Incorporate those into your posts and see if they get you more likes and followers. 

3. Staff

As you open your business, you’ll also need to give careful consideration to your staff’s needs and your personnel needs as well. 

  • Keep in mind that with social distancing, you may not need as many people on the floor as you did previously. Also, your store may have different hours now. So first, consider what you really need in terms of floor coverage, and then deal with any employee issues.
  • Some of your staff may be reluctant to come back. It may be that they are scared of the virus and don’t want to return. It may also be that they are enjoying the extra money they’re getting while on unemployment. This is all understandable, but you cannot be held hostage this way. Retailers who have faced this have had to get new staff, and you may have to do the same. 
  • The ones that do come back will need some additional training. First, they need to learn some new procedures in the store, especially regarding cleaning. We need to show customers that our stores are clean and safe, and so your employees will need to know how to clean and which areas to clean. Of special concern for apparel retailers is the dressing room. It needs to be cleaned between visitors, and I would recommend posting a log inside the dressing room that shows how often the dressing has been cleaned. 
  • Staff will also need to be trained on how to sell from 6 feet away. How do they still engage with customers, make recommendations, and lead them to the purchase?  Certainly, one of the things I think they’ll need to work on is how to move the conversation from the awfulness of this pandemic, to positive things. It’s something they need to drill before you open.

4. Selling

The politics of salesmanship are yet another challenge we have to get past. 

Scroll through social media for 2 minutes and you’ll see tons of divergent opinions about how this whole situation should be handled. 

  • Some of your customers are going to be worried about being out. Make sure they feel warmly welcomed, and make sure they see that you are cleaning the store, that you are safe, and that it’s OK to be there.
  • Other customers will want to completely ignore that there is a virus at all. Be careful about any customers who do not obey social distancing, for this reason only: you could freak out other customers who see it, and that could get you a nasty scene on the sales floor, or a nasty online review.
  • Lots of stores are stepping up sales by setting appointments to visit the store. An appointment is almost a guaranteed sale, because you wouldn’t make an appointment unless you had a strong interest in buying product, right? 
  • Products that are touched by customers need to be cleaned. Garments that have been tried on need to be steamed, and everything needs to get looked at to ensure safety. This is part of what your employees need to show customers on the floor – that we are safe, and the merchandise can and should be touched!

We are seeing a large variety of methods of selling right now. It’s a broad topic and way beyond the scope of this post.

The most important thing I can tell you is that we’re all learning how to sell in this new era, and there will be lots of tips and tricks coming. 

5. Merchandise

Frankly, the absolute most important thing in this blog post is a discussion of your merchandise.

Having the right merchandise is the key to your survival.

  • First, look at your Spring merchandise. We think Spring will be extended by a month or so, since people have not seen a lot of the merchandise you received when then lockdowns started. Look carefully at what you have and what’s on order. Talk to your vendors and find out if they still have goods and negotiate for discounts on whatever they have left, but only if your Open to Buy plan (you do have one of those, right?) tells you that you need it.
  • Fall goods could be tricky. We’re already hearing that many manufacturers are not able to produce their typical Fall production because of the shutdown. Start talking to your vendors about Fall and see who can and cannot ship, and how that will affect your assortment plan.
  • Most importantly, you need a sales plan that you believe in, coupled with an inventory plan that enables you to turn goods even faster than you ever have. In all of our merchandise planning and open to buy planning, we are putting together models that ensure positive cash flow through proper sales forecasting using algorithms and artificial intelligence. Cash was always king, but now, it’s super-king. Make sure you have a solid plan to get you through the rest of this year!

One last thing, which is really, really from my heart. I believe in independent retail. I believe in you. Every politician says that small business is the backbone of our economy, and that’s true. 

That said, small businesses are the people who build communities, who take leadership roles to give everyone a better life.

To that degree, you are more than the backbone of the economy, you are the backbone of society itself.

As such, your survival is hugely important! 

And you can do it, if you apply these first tips that I’ve listed here. 

So go for it. Make it happen, for you, your family, your community, and for the future for all of us. 

We all stand with you, and we’re cheering you on!

Get the retail reopening checklist

Make sure you don’t miss any important details! Get this retail reopening checklist from Retail Pro and Management One today.

Guest author: Dan Jablons
Management One
Retail Smart Guys

Luxury after lockdown: High quality, high value

Crises such as COVID-19 present the shopping public with tough decisions.

During the current uncertain times, many are anxious about surging unemployment rates and continued social distancing protocols in public.

Some shoppers will be forced to “make do” and sacrifice “nice to have” purchases for those that are considered “must-have.”

Luxury buyers, however, are less concerned about price, and more focused on quality.

High quality wins high loyalty

Luxury shoppers tend to have a strong bond with the brands they favor; customers are loyal to them for their reputation for quality.

This group is not concerned with price; sometimes, status is part of the allure, but increasingly, these shoppers see their purchases as high quality and as investments.

For instance, the purchase of a limited-run, hand-crafted handbag or a precisely cut French crystal decanter could very well be enjoyed for a lifetime before being handed down to a grandchild. 

The worth of those items is tangible: It is evident in their appearance they are quality items. They are not trendy, flashy pieces evidencing conspicuous consumption and thereby casting their owners in the harsh light of criticism.

Practical lux

Instead of being symbolic of an ostentatious life, luxury goods will, at least in the near-term, likely fill a somewhat more practical need.

They will be expensive but will focus on the overall value and their storied histories.

Such brands often have rich backgrounds, and they’ll focus on their uniqueness and heritage to their new and loyal customers who are now shopping in a more discerning manner.

Understatement will rule the day, and prominent logos will fade.

The voice of luxury during the lockdown

But not all luxury brands will come out of this retail lockdown for the better.

Those who were actively promoting their products’ quality as part of an overall “lifestyle” will fare better than those who were passively counting the days until reopening, focused on cash and cutting employees.

Brands who have furloughed their distinguished associates and gone into hibernation are risking their futures.

They have damaged their abilities to create the value for which they were once renowned, and that once drove their customers’ eagerness to buy their products.

Goods & experiences

Pre-COVID, luxury goods were feeling a bit of a pinch, as millennials looked toward more “Instagrammable” high-end experiences.

Boomers, too, having bought and accumulated luxury items over the years were also looking at trips and adventures rather than jewelry or automobiles.

Analysts at McKinsey note that while the positive momentum of experiential luxury will likely persist, it will slow down in the short term as consumers temporarily revert to buying goods rather than experiences.

From depression to recession, the luxury sector has reinvented itself many times.

It is as strong as a colobolo desk, yet as fluid as 1959 Dom Perignon.

Companies that were well positioned before the crisis yet continued to have a positive presence throughout the retail shutdown could well wind up stronger, more innovative and more deeply connected to their core customers – and attract some new ones as well.

3 Ways to keep customers from feeling ‘distant’ during COVID-19

The current economic lockdown has exacerbated challenges many retailers have faced during the past several years, as decreasing foot traffic and increasing online competition has chipped away at margins.

Even as local governments consider when retailers’ doors can and should reopen, many customers will remain wary of running non-essential errands.

However, a vast majority of retailers already have employed successful strategies to compete with online merchants, and now they are redoubling their efforts to keep customers happy and satisfied.

For many retailers, that means continuing to invest in the online portion of their businesses to remain viable.

Current circumstances have forced them to offer new services — including some “out of the box” solutions — that may become permanent additions to their business strategies.

Here are 3 ideas that retailers large and small are using to meet, and even exceed, customer expectations during COVID-19.

1: Social media engagement

Topping the list of retailers’ worries is figuring out how maintain and possibly even increase customer relationships with their customer bases digitally.

These are strategies that are not only imperative when in-person engagement is impossible or reduced, but important also when competition from online merchants seems overwhelming.

Social media marketing via Facebook and Instagram are perfect tools for the task, as is direct-to-consumer email marketing.

Customer relationships can be nurtured, and clients can still feel the strength of their loyalty and engagement with brands using social media as well as personalized emails.

These can be targeted to specific sets of customers, and might herald the introduction of a new offering, or provide a unique service.

2: Unique offerings

Customers engage online with retailers that provide unique services online.

Offering an online class or special event can offer a much-needed “social” activity, while encouraging staying in the privacy of one’s own home.

Tying the online presentation to products for sale with handy links boosts sales as well as the retailers’ reputation.

Any retailer can offer a relevant online class, including flower arranging, lawn care, golf instruction, cooking lessons, makeup application, etc.

3: Expanding online and delivery options

Retailers that offer more stock online will reap more sales, and appeal to a broader customer base that may stick around long after social distancing mandates have disappeared.

Expanding the breadth of online offerings, including gift cards, lets customers support businesses 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

If shipping is a problem, curbside pickup has become one innovation that is likely to become part of everyday shopping. The convenience of calling ahead and picking up without leaving the car is addicting.

In addition, it may actually require some retailers to hire “runners” specifically to satisfy those customers.

Omnichannel or online retailers are well-positioned to deal with restrictive store hours but should always be alert to maintaining the best experience for customers.

The website experience should be straightforward and welcoming, so customers can shop and engage in a frictionless, easy way.

Engage the whole supply chain

The retailer-vendor relationship is also crucial during these uncertain times.

All of the supply chain is in uncharted territory, so continuous partner engagement is critical.

All links in the chain should be encouraged to provide the best customer experience for their customers, in ways that can be mutually beneficially for all partners, such as passing along special offers through finance partners or working with distributors to provide free shipping.

Those relationships will become particularly important as customers return to in-store shopping, as retailers rebuild their customer loyal bases and engage the newer customers who were attracted by the retailers’ digital presence.

Same-day service appeals to COVID-19-homebound shoppers

 

 

With COVID-19 as the latest driver for store closures, brick-and-mortar stores have had to get innovative to keep transactions flowing and compete against their born-online ecommerce counterparts.

It’s not simply a price game. Unique product selection and convenience and are differentiators that can position a brick and mortar as a go-to for shoppers staying home to curb the virus’ spread.

One convenience that’s a long time coming but potentially a game changer is same-day order fulfillment.

 

The shipping options spectrum

 
Retailers that sell items in store and online often offer traditional shipping, which can take several days to arrive at the customer’s doorstep. Adding insult to injury, in addition to the wait time, there’s also a charge for delivery.

Of course, many offer free in-store pick up, but that is often inconvenient.

Many a local retailer has lost a sale to Amazon for its Prime shopping service.

Same-day service perfectly fills that void for brick and mortars, and if the local pizza parlor can do it, it’s likely a department store can as well.

 

Reach more shoppers with flexible shipping

 
Same-day service not only endears retailers to their loyal customers at this time when few are venturing beyond their living room.

It also appeals to those too busy to go out shopping, as well as the elderly, or those who may be homebound or without transportation.

It’s also a lifesaver for businesspeople who may have to attend a core meeting at a moment’s notice.

A speedy delivery of a dress shirt and tie or black pumps is not only perceived by the recipient as a career saver, but also provides good will that converts into loyal customers and more sales.

And don’t discount the impulse buy as a driving factor for offering same-day delivery. Customers are just as likely to get cravings while shopping online as they are on the checkout line.

Offering a quick turnaround time from cart to doorstep lets retailers offer last-minute, quickly-delivered finds for buyers to add to their cart.
 

Shoppers are willing to cover the cost

 
It’s true, offering same-day delivery will add substantial operating costs. However, offering same-day shipping as an option with an extra cost positions a retailer as one that is serious about keeping up and offering the most convenient shipping methods to improve customer experience.

In 2016, McKinsey released a report that found 20 to 25 percent of consumers would pay significant premiums to receive their items on the same day. Groceries, small electronics, and automotive parts top the list of products consumers are willing to pay for fast delivery, with up to 45% willing to pay extra.

Same-day delivery isn’t new; Macy’s has offered it in several markets since 2015, for example. What is new is the demand for the service, which is growing.

And with COVID-19 keeping most shoppers at home, there can be higher adoption of same-day service, faster.

More customers want the convenience of delivery with the benefits of in-store shopping. The question is, will more retailers be willing to accommodate the customer with new, more efficient shipping methods?