Shopper habits are evolving and so are their expectations of experience and personalization. The pervasiveness of technology is helping create convergent retail experiences in many different areas.
Payment options are growing faster than ever in the history of retail. Traditional payments methods like cash, check, credit and debit cards, coupons and loyalty points are being supplemented by pre-paid cards, contactless payment technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC), direct remote bank payment, e-wallets such as PayPal and mobile wallets. In several stores and shopping malls, banks are setting up their ATMs in a bid to make it simpler for customers to make payments.
The idea is to ensure that customers can make payments using methods they are most comfortable with. The implication of this on retailers is still not completely clear, as technologies around payments are going through evolution and continue to pose security challenges. However, stores know that they need to keep pace with emerging consumer behaviour, so they can’t let the ball drop on the innovations around payment methods. This is one reason why most stores, if not all, will be Wi-Fi-enabled by the end of 2013. New technologies will require the customer to use Wi-Fi connectivity to transfer payments as well as verify card and account information through real-time facial recognition in addition to CVV numbers and other security enhancing processes.
But retailers are placing their bets on time-saving self-service. This is a method that is gaining popularity in grocery supermarkets. For example, Waitrose in the UK has a 'Quick Check' system[i] that allows shoppers at its brick-and-mortar stores to use a dedicated handheld scanner. Customers use the scanner for each item they pick and place in their shopping cart or directly into their shopping bag. When they exit, they don’t have to unpack and repack their purchases. The store system knows the debit or credit card the customer has registered for payment. The customer bypasses the traditional checkout counter as the payment is automatically made to the store. Expect innovations such as these that combine shopping convenience with payment convenience to grow in 2013.
What do you think will enhance retail shopping experience in 2013? Do share your thoughts.