COVID created an unexpected tipping point, accelerating digital technology, especially in regard to contactless payment options. In that sense, businesses across the globe have needed to rapidly adapt to the demands of COVID, forcing many retailers, restaurants, and other businesses to close their doors.
For those who remain open, consumers expect the safest possible experience. That means providing them with an environment that they feel comfortable in from start to finish. If you are developing a new, sustainable strategy that will ensure consumer satisfaction following COVID, payment is a key area to consider.
Now is the time to act — your business may depend on it.
COVID Drove Swift Migration to Digital Technologies
Recent data shows that in a matter of approximately eight weeks, COVID catapulted us five years forward in terms of consumer digital adoption. This is particularly the case regarding payment options, and according to experts, this trend is likely here to stay.
What we're seeing now is a transformation towards digital money, and this trend will likely remain long after COVID.
As reported by McKinsey Digital, 75 percent of people using digital channels for the first time will continue to do so once things return to "normal" — which is why businesses need to ensure that their digital channels are on par with their competitors.
For example, if you own a local bakery, clothing shop, brewery, or any other type of business that interacts with consumers on a day-to-day basis, you'll need to alter everyday operations, implementing a contactless payment solution as soon as possible. Those who take these steps will likely experience sustained business — and those who don’t, risk being left behind.
Consumers Expect Contactless Payment Options
The evolution of “contactless” payment platforms such as Apple Pay, Paypal, and Venmo, has allowed consumers to pay for their goods and services without needing to carry cash or touch credit card terminals. This trend has been in the works for years, yet the United States was not initially as interested as other parts of the world. In a 2018 study, it was found that only approximately 3 percent of cards in the U.S. were contactless, compared to approximately 64 percent in the United Kingdom and 96 percent in South Korea.
Prior to the recent pandemic, those who used contactless payment options did so because they offered greater flexibility and convenience. However, once COVID hit, this trend accelerated considerably and adaptation has been ever-increasing. Consumers now want payment options that allow them to avoid using cash and/or credit. A study conducted by Square found that between March 1 and April 23, the number of cashless payments in the United States increased by 23 percent, while Great Britain saw an increase of 50 percent.
A survey conducted in August 2020, found that 60 percent of consumers plan on using digital/contactless payments in the future due to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, as a business owner, that is why if you do not offer such options, you may be left behind.
In addition to payment options, consumers are also becoming more mindful of mobile coupons and redemptions. Much like cash, consumers do not want to handle paper offers. If you own a restaurant or store, this is the perfect time to implement digital coupons into your marketing strategy. Larger, more established businesses can upload coupons to their app, while smaller businesses may want to send digital coupons and redemptions in their monthly newsletter.
Contactless Mobile experiences - The Rise of QR Codes
Regardless of the type of business you operate, if you interact with consumers, you need to meet their evolving expectations. If you haven't already, now is the time to familiarize yourself with QR codes.
While the use of QR codes was popular in Asian markets prior to COVID, the U.S. market was lagging, particularly in comparison to near-field-communication (NFC) — until now.
Today, independent retailers, restaurants, and other micro-businesses are embracing QR code technology. This option is a simple and low-cost alternative, allowing businesses to respond to the growing demand for safe and efficient payment solutions.
There are many perks associated with QR codes, both for the consumer and merchant. More and more American-based businesses are considering QR codes, as they are now the fastest, safest, and most efficient ways to get consumers to conduct transactions in person.
In more recent years, mobile camera technology has significantly improved, allowing consumers to scan a much clearer barcode from a safe distance. For example, consumers can now purchase a coffee from several feet away, completing a transaction without needing to exchange money or touch a surface.
Not only are QR code payments a cost-effective solution, as a merchant, you can also leverage additional functionality. For example, you may want to develop a loyalty program or be able to capture a consumer's email for marketing purposes. With QR codes, such additions are possible.
The Time to Create a Contactless Strategy Is Now
Retail and fast-food giants such as Walmart and Burger King have been able to make this transition fairly quickly, offering a QR code option at checkout and an order-ahead app. However, smaller businesses are wondering how they can take the leap towards touchless and contactless payments.
As discussed, Venmo is gaining popularity, even among sellers at farmers' markets. Based on the technology available, contactless payment options are accessible to all merchants — regardless of their size. This is also expected to lead to changes in consumer behavior, as the more people that embrace contactless technology, the more likely these behaviors will change for good.
Meaning, the strategies you implement now are an investment in the future of your business. If you do not take the necessary steps, you will not likely endure over the long-run.
While reworking your strategy, you need to think about your customer journey. This will help you develop, innovate, and implement the best possible programs and technologies. Remember, the goal is to make the payment process easier, faster, and as safe as possible.
It's time to meet consumer expectations by exploring the benefits of mobile contactless payment options, as well as the use of mobile coupons and redemptions. Take action in order to enhance your reputation, increase consumer satisfaction, and remain competitive today!