The pandemic caused many changes in the retail industry as people started shopping online due to the shelter-in-place guidelines of the authorities. After the easing of restrictions, some people were still wary about venturing out of their homes.
With the continued rollout of the vaccine, people may soon see the end of the pandemic in the country. This means retailers can start preparing for reopening their stores to a post-pandemic world. But the retail industry will see a lot of changes since people are more conscious about their health and safety after what they experienced during the pandemic.
Here are some things that may become a part of the new normal in retail due to the pandemic.
The popularity of contactless payments will increase as people try to avoid touching high-contact surfaces at stores. They will end up using touch-free payment methods. Even as this option saw an increase before the pandemic, the health crisis compelled many Americans to shift to this payment method.
Retailers can also offer prepaid cards for their customers since some of these payment options are compatible with contactless payment apps, such as Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet, which facilitate the payment of their purchases.
Some groceries have already started increasing the number of contactless payment counters that allow customers to scan items and show the total amount they need to pay. Another grocery is also setting up a system similar to the ones found in Amazon Go stores.
Another large retailer also revived its previous project that allowed customers to pay for purchases using smartphones. The retailer expanded the project two years ago before ending it shortly after. But the health crisis saw the company offering the app as one of the features offered through its membership program.
No Checkout Retail
Amazon launched an innovative technology that allows shoppers to go inside their Amazon Go stores, pick up the items they want, and walk out of the store without passing through a checkout counter. The Just Walk Out technology of the e-commerce giant detects the products shoppers take from the shelves. It tracks these items and charges their credit card once they leave the store. Since the system charges a credit card, customers should use one when entering an Amazon Go store.
If the customers need a receipt, they can pass by a kiosk inside the store where they can type in the email address. The customers will receive the receipt through email. If the customers use the same credit card in other Amazon Go stores along with the same email address, they will automatically receive a receipt on their email address after they shop.
Even as Amazon uses the technology in its stores, it is also offering it to interested retailers. This takes no-touch shopping to the next level since the customers will not have to line up at checkout counters. This makes it ideal for people who are not fond of waiting in line to pay for just one item. All they need to do is get the item and go.
Virtual shopping allows customers to shop even if they are sitting on a couch at home. The system lets customers browse through the items on display. The customer connects with an in-store associate who can answer their questions. The store associate also lets the customers view the products and provide recommendations to them.
Virtual shopping allows customers to “walk into” 3D renderings of the stores. Some virtual stores are similar to the images on Google Street View, where customers can see images of brick-and-mortar stores.
The system benefits both the customers and retailers. Customers can shop safely without having to leave their homes. On the other hand, retailers can continue selling even if foot traffic is minimal in the store.
There’s one thing in common among the retailers that continued to operate in the middle of the pandemic. They are all big-box retailers that offer just about anything to their customers. Being a one-stop-shop allowed customers to shop in the same store for everything they need. The customers can buy anything from groceries to roofing materials in these stores.
Due to this, all-in-one stores will become popular when the pandemic ends since customers do not need to transfer from one store to another to buy the things they need at home. Additionally, the popularity of these stores will increase if they offer contactless payment options and even virtual shopping services.
The post-pandemic world will change for retailers, making it necessary for these businesses to innovate to thrive after everything goes back to normal.