Embracing new ideas and using the latest technology can be challenging for some retailers. However, those who avoid reality and think business will continue to operate as it did in the “good old days” may be headed for trouble. The world has changed radically in the past year, and there’s no turning back. Today is the time to figure out what actions your business needs to take to remain relevant to consumers. While it’s true that nearly 20 percent of retail spending occurred online in the third quarter of 2020, ninety-one percent of consumers say they miss shopping in stores.
Consumers want the best of both worlds–it’s up to retailers to offer solutions that give them a range of options. Small and mid-size retailers may think that being up-to-date with technology is primarily for giant retailers like Amazon or Wal-Mart. However, every retailer can benefit from similar technology on a smaller scale, at affordable costs.
The growth in e-commerce and hybrid shopping has increased consumer’s dependency on mobile devices to make purchases. This shift in buying habits is not merely a temporary response to the pandemic; the behavior will continue after the pandemic ends. Many consumers plan to continue to socially-distance and avoid contact with store employees and other shoppers into the future. Mobile wallets are a payment option that has become popular with consumers because it offers flexibility and security.
Accept Mobile Wallets to Avoid Cash
For hygienic reasons, many people are leery of using cash because it passes through so many hands. We have also been warned to avoid personal contact while shopping and at the checkout. In many stores, cashiers no longer touch credit cards or ask customers to type into keyboards. So, it’s not surprising that more shoppers are opting to use mobile wallets.
- 3.8 billion smartphone users globally in 2021
- 51 percent of shoppers in the U.S. use some form of contactless payments
- 55 percent of U.S. shoppers think a smartphone is the most efficient way to make a purchase
- 73 percent of shoppers want advanced technology for more checkout options
Consumers like to use smartphones to connect to their bank, credit, and debit cards without contacting anyone. Retailers who have not updated their point-of-sale technology to accept this payment method miss an opportunity to acquire new customers and generate sales. Incorporating these wireless devices allows retailers to accept payments from anywhere, rather than specific checkout locations.
Make Convenience a Priority
Customers discovered they liked some of the pickup and delivery services retailers began offering in earnest last year. Curbside pickup helped shoppers get their merchandise faster and avoid waiting in line. With more people working from home, taking a quick break to pick up an order can be a welcomed diversion. It’s also easy to put the kids in the car and drive through a designated lane without the hassle of parking. To accommodate customers who want to preview the product before they buy, retailers can link to manufacturer videos on their websites or offer augmented reality solutions such as a paint visualizer that shows the color selections in the person’s home.
Offer Access to Real-time Inventory
Few things upset customers more than finding out the product they want to purchase is out-of-stock. The surge in buy online and pick up in-store has increased consumers’ demand to have access to real-time inventory updates. Studies show that consumers miss shopping in physical stores—however, the business must meet consumers’ expectations that the products they ordered online are available at the pickup point. Retailers may need to invest in new technology to ensure customers have high-level visibility and the confidence that a trip to the store is worthwhile.
The pace that retail is changing is going to move faster. Retailers must be prepared to adapt to new ideas and technology or eventually go out of business. Consumers are tethered to technology and will continue to gravitate to all things digital. Retailers who understand how to navigate the digital space and promote a hybrid in-store experience are positioned for long-term growth.