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Creating a Contactless Retail Experience in 2022

Given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a good percentage of retail customers remain wary about shopping in public spaces with large crowds. As a result, the demand for a contactless shopping experience is skyrocketing. Here’s how retailers can create an easy and contactless retail experience for customers.

Variants Continue to Disrupt In-Store Shopping

Each successive variant is reinforcing retail shopping habits and preferences formed at the beginning of the pandemic. For instance, a mere one-third of shoppers surveyed stated they would feel comfortable shopping in malls again and U.S. grocery store shoppers are most concerned about a perceived threat of contracting the virus from other customers1.

Whereas in-store shopping in early to mid-2020 was all about not touching anything or social distancing, the new goal for retailers who are determining how to improve in-store experience is to limit human interaction. Customers are looking to make appointments for store and service visits, enter during low-traffic periods, utilize self-checkout lines, and use a contactless payment option such as Apple Pay or a mobile app in lieu of cash or even debit card/credit card payments (which require touching a payment terminal). With consumer behavior continuing to trend toward digital wallet and contactless payment methods, retailers should strongly consider providing these options as part of their checkout experience – if they have not done so already.

Combating Customer Frustration with Technology

Given ongoing labor shortages, shoppers are facing increasingly frustrating in-store experiences. Reduced hours (often with short notice), empty shelves, long lines, shuttered dressing rooms, and lack of employee assistance are frustrating customers. Savvy retailers must pivot their procedures and boost their technology investment to create an in-store experience that is meaningful and contactless. 

Anyline reports that 89% of shoppers say it’s important that grocery stores use technology better and/or more efficiently to make checking out faster2. The company also makes a compelling case for other retailers to embrace Scan & Go payment technology, with 81% of consumers preferring to use their own device for in-store shopping and contactless checkout.

Positive Customer Experience = High Tech + Low Touch + Safety Protocols

Contactless Fulfillment is Key with Curbside Pick-up

The days of driving to a store, calling a phone number, and then waiting curbside for your order are over. Now, many retailers know the importance of a seamless experience and have innovated on their curbside delivery experience. Today’s curbside pick-up harnesses the power of geofencing technology to track shoppers’ movement from their starting point to the retail store. Target and Walmart each have a sophisticated mobile app that improves the customer experience during a contactless transaction. Of course, successful curbside pick up must also include creating designated and numbered parking spaces, communicating frequently with customers, and soliciting feedback post-purchase.

BOPIL® Limits Human Interaction while Boosting Satisfaction & Sales

Aside from BOPIS, Buy Online, Pick-up in Locker (BOPIL) is another means of providing contactless fulfillment for your customers. The initial research into retailers using smart lockers for contactless pick up is overwhelmingly positive. A Fortune 500 retailer who recently installed Parcel Pending’s automated lockers noted that 95.9% of customers said that using the locker saved them time in picking up their order; 94.3% of customers said that they are likely to use in-store pick up again and 93.4% of customers rated their experience as “very satisfied.” And, recently, home improvement retailer Lowe’s installed Parcel Pending by Quadient smart lockers at its 1,700+ stores to boost the customer experience. Now customers can retrieve their packages with zero human interaction in as little as 10 seconds.

The return on investment from BOPIL is also compelling. 61% of customers make an incremental purchase just by virtue of entering the store. Since customers whose wait times are two minutes and under (when using BOPIL, for instance) are four times more likely to purchase again, smart lockers are a key strategy for retail store operational efficiency. As a comparison, the average wait time for curbside pick up hovers between 8-12 minutes.

The Need for a Solid Omnichannel Experience

Not surprisingly, continued concerns about safety are driving customers to online shopping. In fact, digital shopping continued to explode in 2021: eCommerce sales were up 4.4% – equal to about 13% of all worldwide sales3. It’s clear that customers want what they want, when they want it with the freedom to choose their preferred fulfillment channel – whether it’s contactless delivery to their home, curbside pickup, or BOPIL.

Whether shoppers purchase via web, mobile app, or social media, customers are looking for an easy, frictionless, and consistent experience across all channels. 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with a brand, regardless of the channel; 87% of consumers today say that they wish organizations would work harder at delivering consistent customer experience across channels4,5

As Dixa, a customer service platform explains: “More than 70% of customers hate having to repeat themselves when dealing with a brand, and 30% feel that a company knowing about their previous interactions helps them to feel valued”6,7.

But, for every additional channel customers use, they spend more money. Omnichannel customers spend an average of 4% more in-store and 10% more online than single-channel customers8.  

The ROI Of Boosting the Digital Customer Experience

The experience of the customer has a significant impact on a retailer’s bottom line. In the U.S., even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences and 17% will after just one bad experience9. 86% of customers say that they are ready to pay more if it means getting a better customer experience10. In fact, they are willing to pay as high as 13% to 18% more for a product or service, provided they receive an excellent customer experience.

Plus, these statistics paint a more complete picture:

  • A 5% boost to customer retention can achieve a 25 to 100% profit increase11
  • 64% of customers believe customer experience is more important than price when deciding to make a purchase with a brand12
  • 77% of customers would recommend a brand to a friend after having a single positive experience13

The shopping experience will continue to evolve as the nation determines how to deal with the ongoing pandemic. It’s clear, however, that contactless options powered by technology, smart lockers, and mobile apps are the future of retail.

To talk to a Parcel Pending by Quadient sales representative about how our solutions can provide a contactless retail experience for your shoppers, contact us here or complete the form below.

Sources:

  1. Loiselle, Mia. Dixa. How the Retail Experience is Evolving in a Contactless World. (n.d.) https://www.dixa.com/blog/how-the-retail-experience-is-evolving-in-a-contactless-world/.
  2. Anyline. (2021). Scan & Go: A Fleeting Fad or the Future of Retail? [Report]. Retrieved from: https://ocr.anyline.com/scan-go-ebook
  3. Oberlo. How Many People Shop Online in 2021?. (n.d.) https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/how-many-people-shop-online.
  4. Salesforce. What Are Customer Expectations, and How Have They Changed?. (n.d.) https://www.salesforce.com/resources/articles/customer-expectations/.
  5. Liu, David. MarTech Series. Omnichannel Communication vs. Multichannel: How to Delight Your Audience. (2020, March 18). https://martechseries.com/mts-insights/guest-authors/omnichannel-communication-vs-multichannel-delight-audience/.
  6. Contact-Centres. 75% of Consumers Hate Repeating Themselves. (2016, August 24). https://contact-centres.com/ubm-75-of-consumers-hate-repeating-themselves/.
  7. Lesonsky, Rieva. Forbes. Customer Service Expectations Are Rising – Is Your Business Keeping Up?. (2019, April 10). https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2019/04/10/customer-service-expectations/?sh=5b1f161714e5.
  8. Sopadijeva, E., Dholakia, U., & Benjamin, B. Harvard Business Review. A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows that Omnichannel Retailing Works. (2017, January 3). https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works.
  9. Puthiyamadam, Tom & Reyes, José. PWC. Experience is everything. Get it right. (2017). https://www.pwc.com/future-of-cx.
  10. Bulao, Jacquelyn. TechJury. 36 Astonishing Customer Experience Statistics for 2021. (2022, January 4). https://techjury.net/blog/customer-experience-statistics/#gref.
  11. Reichheld, Fred. Bain & Company. Prescription for Cutting Costs. (2001, October 25). https://www.bain.com/insights/prescription-for-cutting-costs-bain-brief/.
  12. Gartner Research. (2014). Gartner Survey Finds Importance of Customer Experience Is on the Hook [Report]. Retrieved from: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/2857722
  13. Temkin, Bruce. Qualtrics XM Institute. Customer Experience Leads to Recommendations (Charts for 20 Industries). (2017, February 23). https://www.xminstitute.com/blog/cx-leads-to-recommendations/.

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