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How can retailers meet shoppers’ increased demand for contactless payment and shopping?

Contactless payment and shopping methods have seen an undeniable surge in utilization this year due to COVID-19. What was once considered a convenient option has quickly become an important safety feature; the hygienic value of contactless payment and shopping has helped accelerate adoption and demand. So as shoppers are trying to make their purchases with as few physical touches as possible and retailers are trying to keep their employees safe and healthy, how can retailers integrate contactless payment and shopping methods in a way that supports their customers, and their businesses?

Diversify delivery, shopping and payment methods
While shoppers’ behavior is trending towards contactless payment and shopping, retailers still need to be able to provide a variety of options for their customers. Customers have demonstrated different levels of willingness to enter retail stores and assume different levels of risk, and retailers need to be able to serve all of them.

Contactless payments at the point of sale, like contactless cards and digital wallets, help reduce customers’ contact with PIN pads and terminals; some of the most-touched pieces of hardware in a retail store. While most retailers have been transparent and strict about their hygiene practices, customers are still often most comfortable using their own devices to shop and pay. Scan and Go is another shopping method that allows shoppers to drive their in-store journey with their own devices and helps them move through stores more quickly. Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) options or curbside shopping have quickly become popular shopping options for essentials, groceries and restaurants and for good reason: These shopping methods allow customer to browse and make selections from their own devices, get notified when their order is ready, then go pick it up, giving the customer control over their shopping experience and the sense of normalcy that comes with physically running errands – without having to set foot inside a store or interact with a cashier at close range.

While the use of contactless payment and shopping have been accelerated over recent months, cash is still critical to many shoppers. And while many customers are quickly adapting to regularly using contactless payment methods and e-commerce to shop (millennials and higher-income earners especially), many parts of the population, including the elderly, undocumented people, people without access to financial institutions and people with disabilities may not have access to the tools or digital knowledge needed to fully participate in contactless commerce.

Leverage existing infrastructure and technologies
Even if a retailer is unable to transform a store’s front end to a completely contactless environment right away, there is enormous value in reducing the number of physical touchpoints in a store. Since moving to a fully contactless store environment right away can be costly so retailers should start by looking at the capabilities they already have. How can solutions that already exist in stores to provide a lower-touch shopping journey for shoppers and allow associates to serve customers safely? For example, the latest version of Toshiba’s CHEC software, part of the Self Checkout System 7 solution, enables contactless interventions for age verification and other common events at self-checkout.

While this uncertain moment is temporary, contactless shopping and payment methods are expected to remain popular with shoppers, even after the pandemic is over. After a learning curve, which is common when consumers learn new technology, along with customers’ desires to minimize contact with other people as they shop, contactless shopping is here to stay. Shoppers value convenience and contactless shopping provides it.

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