Retailers should rush to get set up with touchless payment technology or contactless payment technology. Either that or they risk doing much less business in this new COVID-19 marketplace. I have written about this problem several times in recent years. Now this topic is front and center. Customers do not want to touch a germ filled screen. They want touchless or contactless payment technology.
That being said, only a very small percentage of stores use contactless or touchless payment tech. In recent years we have seen companies rush to utilize new payment technology like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
While this has been good, it’s not good enough for this new COVID-19 world.
While most retailers have been focused on trying to deploy new payment technology, they have not been focused on maintaining sanitary environments and customer safety.
Customers demand no-touch payment technology with smartphones
Going forward that’s exactly what they need to focus on if they want to remain competitive.
Remember, customers want touchless payment technology to protect their own safety. They don’t want reduced touch, they want no-touch. They want this for their own personal safety and protection.
This is where many retailers have missed the boat in recent years.
Grocers like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts are hitting a home run. They let users use their smartphone like an iPhone to use Apple Pay for a completely no-touch transaction.
Walmart is also doing a decent job as well. They don’t let you use your smartphone, but all you have to do is swipe your credit card. You don’t have to touch the screen. They have their own Walmart Pay app, but that does not work so well yet.
Grocers like Publix and Kroger fail. They are better than they were last year, but you still must touch the screen to checkout. This is unacceptable. Many customers grab a plastic bag to touch the screen in safety, but that’s going too far for many customers.
When customers don’t feel safe in a store, they will shop at a competitor
If shoppers don’t feel safe in a store, they won’t shop there any longer. Especially when there are safer alternatives.
The vast majority of other grocers and other retail stores require shoppers to touch the unsanitary screen and risk their health. This is unacceptable for many.
There are other stores that have remained open during this shut down.
Consider warehouses clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s
Sam’s Club lets customers use their smartphone app to pay for their selections. That means a completely touch free experience.
Costco now makes it easier for customers to have a touch free experience. They are not as advanced as Sam’s Club. They still require a credit card swipe, but they are trying their best to keep customers and workers safe.
BJ’s lets users pay with their smartphone. That sounds good, but to complete the checkout process the customer must still touch the unsanitary screen which defeats the intended benefit.
So, as you can see, there are a wide variety of safety measures depending on the store.
Being sanitary and protecting the customer is a major competitive advantage today
And as the rest of the economy opens up, we will be noticing how other retailers either succeed or fail in this respect. Most will fail.
Consider the TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods stores, all under the TJX Companies umbrella. While customers love them, they do require shoppers to touch the screen. This company took a step in the wrong direction last year when they implemented the Apple Pay technology.
Now customers can pay with their phone, but they still must touch the screen once to choose whether they want the receipt emailed to them or not.
This is an easy fix. They should simply update their payment process to remove this step, then they would be good to go. How quickly will they do this is the question?
Retailers doing business with credit card only, not cash
Many retailers are doing business without cash. Credit card only. While this is great, there is still much more that needs to be considered.
Retailers must be smart to protect their customers and workers. Reducing the touch points is not good enough. They must eliminate touch points.
This is the challenge and the opportunity for the retail industry and their credit card processing partners. Either update your technology to be touch-free or contactless, or you will lose.
Retail must update contactless payment technology to hang onto customers
COVID-19, and the coronavirus that causes it, will be with us for a long time.
We feel more comfortable getting out again now than we did two months ago, with social distancing and wearing masks.
While that is good, customers still have a built-in safety boundary. They do not feel comfortable breaking that safety barrier having to touch a screen. They will simply find a more sanitary solution. That means going to a safer competitor.
If that means shopping at your competitor for their own personal safety, that’s exactly what they will do.
So, this should be a big wake-up call for every retailer. If you want to remain a player going forward, you must protect both your customers and your workers.
You must have touchless technology at every touch point. Either that, or you will lose. It’s really that simple.
Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is an Industry Analyst, Thought Leader and Influencer focused on Wireless, Telecom, Pay TV, Cloud, AI, IoT, Tele Health, Healthcare, Automotive and Self-Driving cars. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/jeff-kagan/.
Equities Columnist: Jeff Kagan
Source: Equities News