In-store Payment Solutions are the Key to Driving Consumers Offline & onto High Streets

With the retail sector experiencing a slump not seen since the depths of lockdown, and consumer confidence becoming a concern for businesses, now is the time for retailers to drive innovation in-store to pique the interest of customers.

But shopping inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources, and business owners may be surprised to learn that FinTechs are making some of the biggest waves when it comes to driving consumers back into stores.

Consider, for instance, the launch of  Revolut’s new card reader for shops, or the fact that Klarna has introduced a physical ‘buy now, pay later’ card for customers to use in-store. Finance businesses have cottoned on to the fact that it was only ever ease and efficiency that had consumers step away from stores and queues in the first place, and new finance solutions could very well alleviate all that.

For that reason, Jat Sahi’s advice to retailers is to look beyond the traditional chip & pin or contactless experience.

Instead, look to provide technology that is revolutionising the sector and is both beneficial to customers and in-store revenue. After all, shoppers are increasingly asking “why should I shop in-store when I can shop online?” Jat believes point-of-sale technology (POS) is the answer.

Remove pain-points and increase satisfaction

Now, it’s vital that all brick-and-mortar retailers rival the experience customers receive online.

This means removing all pain points associated with in-store shopping, such as long queues to complete a transaction – particularly as research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that 79% of customers won’t wait longer than five minutes to pay.

Therefore, to avoid basket abandonment, retailers need to provide point-of-sale (POS) technology (the time and place where a retail transaction is completed e.g., through a hand-held device on the shop floor) to customers so they can pay for their goods quickly and efficiently. Indeed, we have seen supermarkets roll out this technology, but it’s time for apparel and homeware stores to catch up. Offering this technology will allow them to compete with eCommerce pure players as it mirrors the virtual checkout experience, and it will also give them a competitive edge as there are no costs associated with shipping or returns.

Within the retail industry, there is a feeling that customers are increasingly loyal to service, not brands and implementing POS technology certainly plays into that. But, on the other side of the coin, POS can also decrease overheads and increase internal operational efficiency.

The benefit for retailers

Stores with high volumes of transactions are an ideal fit for self-checkout technology. The ability for consumers to check out independently through their iPhone or smartphone can increase the number of transactions and create an uptick in sales. What’s more, self-checkout also removes the footprint associated with traditional tills, allowing further room for stock.

Elsewhere, these new digital processes mean that employees aren’t ladened with manual transactions and they can spend their time focusing on what truly matters – the customer. Customers are drawn to in-store shopping for the tactile experience and human interaction – this technology allows employees to elevate this experience and increase customer loyalty.

A balanced approach

But, despite around four in five (80%) shoppers calling for retailers to invest in technology to help avoid queues and all the associated benefits with automation, a soft rollout is advised.

Simply removing all manned tills can lead to the feeling that people are being replaced by machines, which is problematic as this lack of choice means that if difficulties with automation do arise, the shopper is left bewildered and frustrated. Instead, provide both and have lengthy discussions with third-party partners implementing the technology to make sure that all employees are trained on how to navigate the system to deliver the seamless experience promised to customers.

What’s more, it’s also important to remember that while most of the population is digitally native, there are over eight million adults in the UK relying on cash to make everyday payments and excluding this demographic has led to many financial service providers stating that digital transformation has come too soon for many. This further cements the need for choice – as moving too quickly can lead to petitions such as ‘Stop the replacement of people by machines’.

Now is the time to seize the moment

Looking forward, the shift towards eCommerce experienced in the pandemic is unlikely to be reversed. However, what retailers with an in-store presence can do is look at the benefits associated with a virtual basket and replicate these. As a nation, we’re undergoing a period of digital transformation and over the coming month, we will slowly see this technology shift from being ‘innovative’ to the ‘norm’. My key takeaway, plan for this rollout now but make sure it’s a soft transition – if you leave it too long, your competitor will have it up and running in no time.

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