With Black Friday around the corner, retailers are busy preparing for a holiday season unlike any other. This is the time of year when sales soar and at any given moment, you can expect crowded malls, long lines at the department store register, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” following you from store to store. What we can expect to see this season is a lot different than last. This year we anticipate that many in-store shoppers will be checking off their wish lists from the convenience and safety of their homes.
Last holiday season, the retail sector pulled in an estimated 729.3 billion dollars in the U.S., contributing to the industry’s 5.5 trillion in total sales for the year. In 2019, holiday ecommerce sales grew at a rate higher than that of total retail sales. In fact, Cyber Monday 2019 became the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, hitting record online sales of over 9.4 billion dollars. And this year it’s projected that ecommerce sales as a percentage of total holiday shopping will significantly increase compared to the previous year.
Even with the growing popularity of online shopping, many consumers still prefer the traditional brick-and-mortar retail experience. With stay-at-home advisories and social distancing protocols in place, retailers are exploring ways to meet the touchless needs of their customers both online and in-store.
Let’s take a look at these five contactless solutions you can expect to see this holiday season.
More mobile ecommerce
Mobile retail sales over the next two months are projected to amount to 71.3 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for a significant share of holiday season retail ecommerce sales according to Statica.
Retailers who’ve invested in a mobile application are steps ahead of their competitors in preparing for the future of touchless retail. Brands that focus on mobile engagement and drive customers towards their mobile apps will unlock additional business opportunities, such as push notifications, app-only discounts, loyalty programs, as well as mobile check-ins for customer support.
Frictionless in-store experiences
Just as important, customer-centric brands are empowering in-store employees with mobile capabilities that will allow them to better serve the customer. With ecommerce the center focus this season, customer-facing personnel should be able to view and honor the same promotions and offers presented to customers online to ensure a consistent and personalized experience.
Brands should consider solutions that will allow them to assist shoppers without them having to wait in lines or even visit a register. At leading retailers, like Walmart, Apple, Nike, and Walgreens, customers can check out on the floor with a store associate using their mobile wallet, self check-out using their phone and mobile wallet, scan desired products for more information using their phone’s camera, and use a brand’s mobile app to redeem rewards and offers in-store.
Loyalty programs and subscription services
As app-based digital-first services become the norm, brands should encourage customers to join their loyalty program. Offering a contactless way to scan for in-store point collection and reward redemption through mobile or app-based loyalty cards will help brands bridge the gap between online and offline activities. By gathering insights into the purchasing behavior of your most loyal customers, loyalty programs can help brands better understand their customers, identify cross-sell opportunities, and deliver more personalized experiences. Offering a subscription service for frequently purchased items is another great way for retailers to drive brand loyalty and appeal to customers trying to minimize return trips to the store.
Omnichannel fulfillment capabilities
Critical at this time is the ability to offer your customers contactless payment and fulfillment options. Services like buy online, pick up in-store, and curbside delivery offer both security and convenience, and brands that haven’t implemented these capabilities should considering adding these services.
Agile service solutions
With the rise of online orders and home deliveries, it’s important that your customers have access to the information they need to proceed with their purchase with full confidence. This is important for customers choosing to do their holiday shopping online for the first time this year. Including a knowledge base on your website that’s easy to manage will not only help shoppers along their journeys but make it easier for you to deliver new policies and updated safety protocols during these turbulent times. And if a customer experiences an issue with their online purchase, providing shoppers with a quick and painless way to reach your customer service team and manage their order is paramount to repeat business.
Today’s leading brands are reinventing themselves for the connected consumer by adopting new technologies such as virtual in-store experiences and more self-service options. While maintaining the health and safety of associates and customers remains priority number one, these trends indicate the shift towards touchless retail might outlast the pandemic for reasons beyond public safety. Touchless retail solutions offer shoppers trust, comfort, and more immersive experiences that make in-store shopping smarter, safer, and more enjoyable.
Learn how you can embrace touchless technology here.
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