Brands and Their Stint with Contactless Shopping During Covid-19
Due to the covid-19 crisis, retail businesses have had to rethink the way customers consume their goods and services almost overnight. We witnessed the imposing of restrictions such as physical distancing and lockdown guidelines as part of new consumer behavior which had astounding implications on how retailers would operate.
Through this article, allow me to share changes that occurred, and how it can help retail companies to ensure a seamless & contactless shopping experience in the new era?
Let’s dive right in!
The Colossal Shift To The Digital World
Consumers have always loved visiting physical retail stores — whether for actual shopping or window shopping. But with the pandemic, only a few people are now visiting the retail stores. As a result, the companies in this sector had to make massive shifts by switching to digital to continue catering to their customers.
Based on my experience, listing down some of the major trends:
1. Online purchase: Almost every retail organization now offers an app to customers to enable them to make purchases online. The ease of purchasing online has led to increased customer satisfaction — with many people even making impulse buys on the internet simply because of how easy it is to buy online.
2. Buy online pick up in-store: The buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) has taken off since 2020 as it offered an excellent way for customers to limit their contact with other people in the store. Give it try if you haven’t. There are companies of all sizes from this sector who have implemented BOPIS were successful. It would interest you to learn that the growth of this trend has been up by 78% since the beginning of the pandemic.
3. Curbside pickup: Here, customers don’t even need to go into the store to collect their products. They can simply drive up to the store and pick up their items from the curbside without even getting out of their cars. It is a no-contact delivery option preferred by several customers worldwide.
4. Delivery services: They traditional approach which picked up more importance. Almost every tiny shop or business began offering delivery services that customers can request with the help of an online app, website, or even a simple phone call. This came across as a great savior during the lockdown restrictions as it eliminated the need for people to step out of their houses.
5. Online payments: Yet another way in which the retail sector has managed to provide a contactless shopping experience is by implementing online payments, which can be made in-store as well. This is known as real-time payment and includes payment options such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, limiting the need for people to handle hard cash. 2020 saw a huge adoption of such payment methods.
6. AR and VR: The use cases for augmented reality and virtual reality have grown for the retail sector, much like the use cases for online payments have. Now, retailers can offer customers the ability to try on products from the comfort of their home and see how it looks virtually with various AR and VR methods.
7. Mobile e-commerce: More and more shoppers continue to spend their time on their smartphones, which has led to the incredible growth of mobile e-commerce. The contactless payment method that is offered by the smartphone is also another reason mobile e-commerce is now on the rise.
As you can see, the retail sector has greatly adapted to the customers’ demands during the covid-19 pandemic. Now, let’s examine some examples to understand how the retail sector has been able to incorporate these changes into its ecosystem.
Real-life Examples Of The Contactless Shopping Experience In 2021
Walmart: They were able to implement BOPIS almost instantly and managed it quite efficiently across all their stores. The retailer established clear signage in almost all of the stores that offered the option. Not only this, but they were also spectacular at helping customers easily navigate to the grocery pickup area.
Sam’s Club: They offered curbside parking and it worked well. The retailer provided designated parking spots for customers who came to pick up their goods at the curb, something which made the contactless shopping experience highly accessible and easy for customers.
Target: They enabled the customer to buy online and pick it up in-store as well. Prominent and visible signage was established across stores to help customers access the areas quickly and efficiently.
H-E-B: Their excellent delivery services established their credibility. The retailer has been consistently providing highly accurate orders during delivery, which has met customer expectations and ensured customer satisfaction.
As you can see, the retail sector has made great strides in adapting to the changing situation and changing customer expectations. However, there is still a long way to go. The retail sector must continue to invest in providing a seamless contactless shopping experience to enhance customer experience and ensure satisfaction. For instance, companies need to focus on getting their orders accurate and offer dedicated curbside parking. It is also essential to establish eye-catching signage for curbside pickups and, most importantly, establish modes of clear communication with customers.
With all this, I think it is possible to provide an enhanced contactless shopping experience to customers even in the post-pandemic scenario. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Saumil Shah, the CSO at Rishabh Software, is a technocrat with a successful track record of helping clients solve complex business problems. Under his strategic presidency, Rishabh has established a prominent market presence across multiple domains like Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, FinTech & more. He is an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur & London Business School and has been on the advisory panel of industry-leading bodies like NASCOM and GESIA. When he’s not busy solving business technology challenges, he enjoys playing tennis or football.