The customer is always right is an adage that has been driving the way we do business for years. While the concept of customer experience (CX) has evolved, business processes have not.
Today, the smartest organisations are creating competitive advantage by placing customer wants first and managing their customer experience from start to finish. In the retail world, the crux of a consumer’s shopping experience occurs at the “checkout”.
Collecting payments is critical to the customer experience for one reason. It is the time when the customer evaluates your value proposition and make the buying decision. The rise of digital payments and the convergence of modern technologies with the physical shopping experience means retailers must innovate to compete with online rivals and win customer loyalty.
Independent payment processing network, DataMesh, has identified several ways that the rise of customer experience is changing the payments landscape and how retailers can future proof their business with a customer-centric approach:
COVID-19 and customer experience
The global pandemic wreaked havoc on the retail sector and changed, possibly forever, the way businesses engage with customers. COVID-19 forced a rethink of what customer service means and the different touchpoints that form a customer journey to drive satisfaction and loyalty.
Online purchasing has seen a rapid growth in “contactless” delivery mechanisms and non-contact click & collect options including drive through collections. This has generally improved customers experiences with businesses that have done a good job of implementing the order, payment and delivery process in a seamless way.
Instore purchasing has seen a focus on the construction of transparent barriers between cashiers and customers to minimise contact. Even in the post COVID-19 world, over 85 per cent of transactions are still done in-store.
This in-store norm of driving all customers to the counters has led to greater levels of customer queuing, which in today’s COVID-19 lens is viewed as unsafe, increasing shopper stress and diminishing customer experience and satisfaction.
Today, we are seeing supermarkets and other retailers implementing payment solutions that are fully mobile, so customers can be “checked out” in the aisle of the shop floor, rather than forcing shoppers to queue with many other people.
Instore innovation to future proof experience
The development of new payment processing features is becoming the new expectation of savvy shoppers.
Despite technological advancements in the broader market, the majority of the retail sector have been left to deal with legacy switches, systems, and terminals – costing merchants money and wasting consumer time. When payments are the most frequent touchpoint between you and your customers, it pays to get it right.
Payment processors are focussed on delivering technology that enables businesses to become fully mobile and untethered from the counter. To be able to interact with their customers where they choose, rather than forcing them to queue by the counter.
Achieving this requires an Android or similar payment device that allows the merchant to host their Point of Sale (POS) software on the payment device. This means items can be scanned, or selected and the payments processed, anywhere the business chooses – in the aisle, at the change room, in the car park, or on the shop floor.
Forward thinking retailers are harnessing the power of truly mobile POS systems, reducing costly errors and the time wasted on back office reconciliation processes. Payment processors also deliver technology where the payment device is no longer required. Here, the phone or tablet can be the payment device that can accept card “taps” via Near Field Communication (NFC) readers and accept PIN entry for large transactions on the screen of the phone or tablet.
Legacy payment terminals are difficult to develop compared to modern tablet technology, so the deployment of additional services that improve personalised customer experience such as loyalty, offers, QR codes, and alternate payment methods will become easier and less expensive to implement into integrated solutions for businesses.
Retailers who are on the front foot in integrating the right technology alongside exemplary customer experience will lead the way in 2021 and beyond, taking on the learnings from COVID-19 to constantly innovate and future-proof.