“Contactless shopping” is a term that’s been making waves in the retail industry, and for good reason: COVID-19 is still making rounds in several parts of the world. And while countries and states have begun opening up, consumers are still extremely cautious about being in contact with others.
Research by Accenture found that 64% of consumers remain fearful for their health, and 82% are fearful for the health of others.
One way to alleviate people’s health and safety concerns about retail to limit physical contact in your retail stores.
Below, we’ll share some ideas on how you can do that, along with the ways that Vend can help.
Implement contactless payments
Consumers are increasingly veering away from cash because of concerns that they cause the spread of illness. Credit cards are a good alternative, but since they require you to physically touch other devices, people are increasingly gravitating towards contactless payment solutions such as mobile payments (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay) or tap and go.
These payment options make your customers feel safer when they’re shopping, so if you’re not offering them in-store, now is the time to do it. Speak with your merchant services provider about the contactless payment solutions that are available, and invest in the hardware required to make it happen.
For best results, make sure your credit card processor integrates with your POS system so you can offer a seamless payment experience while reducing the need for manual reconciliation and extra admin work on your end.
Vend integrates with virtually any payment processor, so it’s easy for you to accept all the ways that your customers want to pay.
Allow shoppers to place orders remotely and limit contact when giving them their purchases
Things like curbside pickup and rapid (sometimes same-day) delivery have been gaining steam for several years now, but the coronavirus pushed them to a whole new level. For many retailers, offering these services is practically a no-brainer.
Ideally, you’ll want to make the ordering and fulfillment process as streamlined as possible. This typically means letting shoppers order online and allowing them to select a fulfillment option (e.g., curbside pickup or delivery). Their orders will then be passed on to you, the merchant, so that you and your team can work on fulfilling them.
Refill Nation, a New Zealand-based shop that sells pantry goods, offers both store pickup and delivery throughout New Zealand. At online checkout, customers simply have to select their fulfillment preferences. If shoppers choose to have their orders shipped, Refill Nation has set charges depending on where the customer lives. For click and collect, they ask that you indicate your preferred time to pick up your order.
Refill Nation works with a third-party courier service to ship orders. This is a good way to go, especially if you’re shipping to farther cities and states. If you cater to local customers though, you can explore the feasibility of same-day delivery and either team up with a rapid delivery service or do it yourself.
If you decide to go this route, be sure to specify the geographic radius for same-day delivery and make sure you charge accordingly.
The liquor store Grain & Vine, for example, makes its same-day delivery policies clear on its website. Grain & Vine even has a map illustrating where the service is offered.
Aside from online ordering, you could also leverage channels like phone or SMS to take orders. Depending on your relationship with your customers, taking orders over the phone lets you generate sales while maintaining direct contact with your shoppers.
Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, for example, takes phone orders in addition to their online ordering services.
If you run your business from a single outlet, you can use Online Fulfillment in Vend with your integrated ecommerce platform to allow customers to pick up their orders in-store.
Reduce in-store capacity or take appointments
You can limit physical contact in-store by reducing the number of people who can come inside. Larger retailers such as Target and Trader Joe’s, have been implementing this amidst the pandemic. And while it does mean that people have to fall in line outside, most shoppers are happy to comply and feel more at ease, knowing that these retailers are looking out for their health and safety.
Another option for limiting in-store guests is to take appointments so you can serve shoppers during specific time slots.
One retailer that’s currently implementing this step is Strike Bridal Bar, a new bridal shop in Milwaukee.
Strike Bridal recently opened its store, and with some of the state’s restrictions still in place, the bridal shop decided to change its policies so it can only take one bride at a time.
The COVID-19 pandemic won’t be around forever, but we’re willing to bet that contactless shopping is here to stay. Do your customers (and your business) a solid and start investing the technologies and systems that’ll let you serve shoppers in a safe but effective way.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.