The only silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has made words like contactless an essential part of the usual retailing vernacular. Prior to the pandemic, many retailers were thinking about making the retail experience contactless. However, amidst the current scenario, contactless is now the word of the day and the need of the hour.
In a broader sense, contactless means offering a complete touchless experience using biometrics, voice, or other technology. Self-checkout Kiosks are vital components of the contactless retail ecosystem. Historically, contactless purchasing was considered the ability to make transactions via PayPal, Google pay, Paytm, and UPI. It enabled users to wave their card or phone in front of a reader without the need of touching it to carry out their transaction. While the acceptance of contactless payments has been on a steady uptick for a few years now, COVID-19 has fastened the adoption of an absolute contactless experience-- one that is driven by no billing executive interaction.
Driving the world with contactless purchasing
Contactless can be defined as a wireless transaction wherein the user authorizes the monetary compensation against a purchase by moving a security token in proximity to the PoS reader. Some of the widely used security tokens for contactless payment are chip-enabled bank cards and smartphone digital wallet apps. Contactless payments are also known as touch-free, tap-and-go, or proximity payments. When any goods or services are purchased through the contactless channel, the process may be referred to as a frictionless checkout.
These contactless modes of payments are considered relatively secure because customers need not share their billing or payment information with anyone. This communication is encrypted, and every purchase is tokenized with a unique transaction number.
Need for contactless purchasing
Owing to the pandemic, the entire retail experience has changed significantly. A large number of customers who earlier preferred going to brick and mortar stores to buy essentials, think twice before going at all. A usual visit to the supermarket or grocery store involves roaming around and touching various items and interacting with the store employees. This is followed by using a checkout lane that always has an endless queue of people touching it. The idea of being contactless in retail rose in the last few years in an attempt to create an absolute hassle and wait-free shopping experience.
In the context of the pandemic, Retailers today have a moral responsibility to provide a safe environment to customers and employees by creating a contactless shopping experience that minimizes human interaction. Self Checkouts have enabled the creation of a contactless retail channel, making it possible to maintain social distance. This can go a long way in building consumer confidence to walk back into stores.
IoT in Retail
The Internet of Things or IoT revolution has emerged as an undisputed hero of the retail sector. From smart shelves to AR-enabled mirrors, IoT has taken retail by storm. It has reaped benefits for the retailers and has been successful in providing an enthralling shopping experience to the customers.
Smart shelves have already revolutionized the way retailers assert their products without hurting their bottom lines. Another exciting offering is Self-Checkout Kiosks. These terminals help customers pay for their purchases without any human intervention. Self-checkout kiosks have evolved tremendously in the last decade. Many retailers have used them to solve various issues related to billing, such as long queues, cash management, and inventory tracking.
Retailers have also deployed in-store terminals to make customer purchases hyper-personalized, yet hassle-free. These interactive kiosks can handle multiple payment modes and keep track of the customers' previous purchases and preferred promotions using an intelligent algorithm.
IoT is here to stay. It helps retailers to embark upon a journey that is both exciting and beneficial for them. It is the prerogative of the retailers to incorporate such smart technologies in their business operations to enhance their bottom line while providing the customers with an enthralling shopping experience.
Since user experience is the crucial element of any retail outlet, the need to deploy self-scanning and scan-and-go successfully is urgent. Brick-and-mortar grocery stores and retailers involved in selling essential goods will have to accelerate their digital transformations to compete with online shopping and meet the new demands for safety. Ultimately, the need to blend the physical and digital worlds remains more vital than ever in our contemporary, contactless society.