If you could summarize the hottest retail technology trends from 2020, contactless solutions would undoubtedly make the list. Between the fact that retail technology is constantly advancing, and the COVID-19 pandemic that rocked the world earlier this year, contactless solutions will simply be indispensable for retailers in 2021. Read on to learn more about what exactly contactless solutions are, the importance of going contactless, and how to get started with contactless solutions so that you can not only keep up, but stand out, from your competition in the new year and beyond.
What are Contactless Solutions?
Simply put, contactless solutions are retail solutions that don’t require shoppers to come in contact with other people or any public surfaces, where viruses and germs can lurk. Two popular contactless solutions – especially in the new normal – are contactless payments and contactless fulfillment.
Contactless payments, which as a retailer you have surely seen, are payments that are made through EMV cards or smart devices like smartphones and smartwatches.
According to Investopedia,
Contactless payment is a secure method for consumers to purchase products or services using a debit, credit, or smartcard—also known as a chip card—by using RFID technology or near-field communication (NFC).
To make a contactless payment, tap your card near a point-of-sale terminal that is equipped with the contactless payment technology. Since contactless payments do not require a signature or a personal identification number (PIN), transaction sizes on cards are limited. The allowable amount for a contactless transaction varies by country and by the bank.
Contactless payment is also referred to as tap-and-go by some banks and retailers. Examples of non-credit or debit card contactless payments include transit cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Google Wallet.
When it comes time for customers to pay, they simply hold their card, smartphone, or smartwatch one to two inches from the contactless symbol on the payment terminal. When the payment has been accepted, the terminal will alert the customer with a beep, green light, or checkmark.
Another common contactless solution is contactless fulfillment. For shoppers that would rather not shop in a brick-and-mortar location, contactless fulfillment solutions include curbside pickup and several online ordering options like traditional delivery and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store). These solutions allow customers to safely receive their orders when and where they want, something that became highly demanded during COVID-19 and will likely continue to remain popular.
The Importance of Going Contactless
Maybe you already implemented some contactless solutions in 2020 or previous years, but in 2021 it will be crucial for you as a retailer to fully leverage these technologies and processes. As the world moves even further into its new normal, consumers will continue to seek shopping methods that minimize how much contact they have with other people and mitigate their risk of contamination.
Contactless payments have been around for some time and are already very popular globally – approximately 20% of all transactions in Australia, Canada, South Korea, and the United Kingdom are completed with contactless technology. The contactless payment trend is present in the United States, too. TD Bank saw a surge in contactless payments following the onset of COVID-19, and it’s likely that shoppers will continue to pay for their orders in this quick and easy way well after the pandemic ends.
Contactless fulfillment methods like delivery and curbside pickup/BOPIS, are also going to be a critical retail offering in 2021. According to Retail TouchPoints,
While the surge in contact-free pickup and delivery offerings has been tied to the current pandemic, it’s likely that their popularity will remain even after the crisis passes. Many retailers will need to figure out ways to incorporate these offerings on a regular basis while still keeping a tight rein on additional labor, operational and systems integration costs.
How to Get Started
Contactless payments can be surprisingly easy to roll out. Many banks offer contactless credit and debit cards, as well as the payment terminals that process contactless transactions. These terminals have a contactless payment symbol to show shoppers that contactless payment methods are accepted. To better communicate to your clientele that they may now make contactless payments, you may have your staff inform customers in person, communicate the update via social media or email marketing, place a sign at the point of sale, or promote the news on your receipts by using free receipt marketing software, like Star Micronics PromoPRNT.
When it comes to contactless order fulfillment, check in with your POS software provider to see if they offer online ordering and curbside pickup/BOPIS functionalities. To successfully roll these methods out, your POS hardware also matters. Be sure to use a receipt printer that comes with built-in online ordering technology, like the Star Micronics mC-Print3 that includes CloudPRNT technology which enables the printer to automatically fetch and print online orders without the need for an additional tablet in your store. Star Micronics printers are also integrated with many industry-leading retail POS software programs, meaning they are a truly an easy, one-stop shop solution for your retail store.
To wrap up, contactless solutions are already popular, and all signs indicate they will continue to be in 2021. While it may sound intimidating, it can be easy for retailers like you to adopt these solutions if you are working with the right, one-stop shop POS software and hardware companies. Keep your customers happy and safe, and stand out from competition for years to come, by adopting contactless solutions like contactless payments and contactless order fulfillment methods in the new year.
Star Micronics has full technology solutions to help prepare your retail store for 2021.
Brianna Moriarty is the Partner Development Manager at Star Micronics where she works with channel-partners to grow their business and develop new markets. Brianna has a background in marketing and uses this to help VARs and ISVs to establish a go-to-market strategy and create co-marketing campaigns. She enjoys following the latest social media marketing trends and creating content for retailers and SMBs.