OPINIONTechnology

How a Contactless Experience Can Improve Customer Interaction 

4 'touchless touchpoints' that can enhance benefits for shoppers and retailers
Stop & Shop checkout
Photograph by WGB Staff

As customers change their shopping journey based on the habits they picked up during COVID-19, retailers must rethink the way they interact with their target shoppers. With 87% of shoppersopting to return to physical stores that have efficient, touchless in-store technology, now is the time to explore the full breadth and potential of contactless touchpoints.

Many retailers mistakenly believe that by offering an entirely touchless journey, they are taking away interactions with existing customer touchpoints. In reality, retailers are offering new, improved experiences. Contactless options go beyond self-checkout and can be utilized at every stage of the in-store journey. From the customer’s first step in the store to the last, the right contactless touchpoints will develop better customer interactions in the store.

Touchpoint No. 1: Entering the Store: Upon arrival, customers interested in choosing a contactless experience will either open a retailer’s app or scan a QR code at the store’s entrance. This initial touchpoint serves many purposes. First, it starts the shoppers’ journey by opening their “cart” and showcasing past purchases and recommendations. Then, it provides shopper identification for the store, along with data, that can be used to better understand how frequently a shopper visits, their average time in-store, and their shopping patterns.

Touchpoint No. 2: Browsing for Items: During the shopping process, customers can find products with greater ease with the help of the retailer’s app. The app can curate store information based on current location, or a preset preferred store, and show the shopper exactly which aisle their desired product can be found. This reduces stress for shoppers in a hurry and decreases unnecessary physical contact with store associates.

Once an item has been located and scanned, the app can be designed to show personalized promotions for that item or discounts on complimentary items to increase basket size. Customer data can also be integrated during the browsing period to highlight items often bought together by the individual customer, or by others similar shoppers, in case the customer forgets an item on their list.

Touchpoint No. 3: Checking Out: With their desired products selected, shoppers can choose a type of checkout method that best fits their needs. One method that’s recently made headlines is "just walk out” technology recently popularized by Amazon Go. This option automatically charges customers for the items they take off the shelf and allows them to seamlessly skip the checkout line altogether.

Yet, some customers who may be interested in contactless options are not quite ready for this technology. In fact, 43% of shoppers were not interested in seeing innovation of that extent in their hometown grocery stores. For these shoppers, there is another method that’s more closely aligned to the shopping experiences they’re comfortable with—checking out via mobile app. In this scenario, shoppers can scan the items in their cart on their phones to avoid the checkout line and speed up the purchasing process.

Both options optimize the checkout process and can encourage spur-of-the-moment purchases that occur at long checkout lines. Even without the physical checkout touchpoint, a retailer can encourage customers to consider loyalty programs and local donations, just as the cashier would have, via their mobile device.

Touchpoint No. 4: Leaving the Store Post-purchase: Today, many retailers miss the last shopping checkpoint—the one the customer reaches when they leave the store. With a contactless journey, digital receipts can be sent via email, SMS or app notification, which opens up another communication channel. These messages can contain targeted offers, updates on loyalty points or other methods that incentivize the customer to come back soon. Additionally, this touchpoint can be used to request feedback from customers so the retailer can focus on continuously bettering the shopper journey.

Make Every Stop an Effective Touchpoint

Contactless shopping experiences create tremendous benefits for customers and retailers alike. By enabling shopping via mobile devices, new touchpoints are created throughout the experience which would be impossible in the traditional journey. App-less technology creates an unprecedented speed of purchase and unmatched frictionless experience. Whether the customer wants a contactless journey because it’s safer, more efficient, frictionless or all of the above, retailers can lean into this innovation to drive loyalty, increase sales and improve profits by offering a contact-free journey from start to finish.

Michael Jaszczyk is the CEO of GK Software USA.

 

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