Click-and-collect fulfillment and contactless payments have fueled the expansion of contactless retail. However, new variations of “contactless” are emerging all the time, including auto-replenishment and other forms of interaction optimization and shopping. These options offer consumers safe and convenient ways to shop and receive products, while offering retailers new ways to develop brand loyalty, increase customer wallet share and reduce costs.
Contactless retail may have received a boost from the pandemic, but consumers’ convenience experience has resulted in new expectations for online travel, flexible fulfillment and the role technology can play for retailers and customers. Consumers have become more familiar and comfortable with giving retailers visibility into their locations. They allow them to connect to their smart devices and gain insight into their behavior. Everything to make better recommendations and promote products and services. This convenience depends on retailers providing clear value and efficiency. However, as retailers are tasked with finding innovative ways to meet these new consumer expectations, they must balance this with maintaining brand loyalty.
While the most recognizable value transaction in retail is money for products or services, there are other transactions that add value to both retailers and their customers. Exchanging likes and product reviews for better recommendations or personal information for coupons or other discussions are two such transactions. Now retailers are investigating value-added transactions. In some cases, asking for permission to monitor smart devices can make it easier for consumers to refill groceries or other consumables. Retailers can also request information about their customers’ personal lives in order to compile curated shopping experiences or to offer related products and services. Is it worth sharing your family’s birth dates with a retailer to be reminded to order a birthday cake? Or recommendations for the most popular gifts of the year for a 12-year-old boy? Both can be ordered online and delivered to the curb, taking the no-contact experience for busy parents to the next level.
curb, Buy online/pick up in store (BOPIS), and home delivery are the most common contactless fulfillment methods. Pickup (and return) lockers are rapidly expanding at quick service restaurants, hardware stores, and others. These fulfillment methods allow customers to receive packages at their convenience and require little or no contact with store staff. Retailers are also working with rideshare and other third-party delivery services to expand home delivery fulfillment options. This trend of letting customers decide for themselves when, where and how they receive their orders continues through innovative partnerships. For example, shipment pickup at the local pharmacy allows customers to choose when to receive an order, not just the orders shipped directly from a retailer or restaurant. This type of partnership reduces costs for the shipping company and drives traffic into the retailer as consumers collect their packages and make impulse purchases.
Contactless payment has also experienced a significant expansion. Acceptance of payments via mobile devices and applications has increased over the past two years. Retailers have also built stored value features into their apps, allowing consumers to “top up” using a credit card, debit card, or bank account transaction. These options reduce the amount of cash consumers need to carry and minimize the contact required to make the purchase or have the order delivered. The increased convenience for consumers and limited transaction fees for retailers offer benefits to both parties. Retailers also see less fraud at the checkout and better cash management metrics due to fewer cash transactions overall.
Less contact with customers doesn’t mean less engagement or loss of connection with them. Providing more contactless shopping, payment and fulfillment options gives retailers new opportunities to add value and develop brand loyalty. The pandemic has essentially forced consumers to embrace contactless options. But as contactless transitions to optional, they will reevaluate the value they get from these contactless channels. Retailers need to do more than just offer to ship orders to customers’ cars; They need to think about the value and efficiencies these new contactless models can bring to both themselves and their customers.
See how Cisco’s Portfolio of retail solutions Providing the capabilities retailers need to expand their contactless retail offering.