As brick and mortar shops across Europe and the US are given the green light to open, retailers must put extra time and attention into being fully prepared for operating in an environment that has changed from the one in which they were last open. From what we are already seeing, consumers are nervous to step back into shops but are keen to begin spending again. Retailers must do all that they can to ensure customers feel safe, acknowledging that many have experienced a period of financial uncertainty.
These are 4 ways in which retailers can ensure that they are meeting the contemporary needs of customers, post COVID-19:
- Contactless payment
If the retailer’s point of sale (POS) is not already set up to manage contactless payments, now is the time to ensure their technology is up to date and their staff is trained. The overall usage of contactless payments in the US has grown by 150% since March 2019. Since the customer is only tapping their card on the POS, physical interaction is limited.
Credit card issuers have increased the maximum spend limit on contactless cards in response to COVID-19, and customers may also choose to pay using mobile wallets on their phones using payment networks such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Maintain a strong eCommerce presence
Following the closure of brick and mortar stores, there was an immediate shift towards online commerce, where sales soared in fields such as outdoor, toys, and fitness.
Retailers must now take the opportunity to offer the same level of service online that they offer in-store, updating their website, shipping, and financing options, to keep loyal in-store customers happy while expanding on their existing customer base. These efforts won’t go to waste as the number of people choosing to shop online is likely to remain heightened for at least the foreseeable future.
Retailers should consider adding an eligibility check on their website for a “line of credit.” This isn’t connected to a specific purchase but gives the customer the ability to complete individual purchases over time, and pay back monthly installments only the amount that is spent. A line of credit does not require any integration with an existing e-commerce site and is extended via a virtual card restricted to that retailer. Customers can then feel comfortable to come in-store knowing that they are already pre-approved to use their line of credit, or use it online if they prefer.
- Embrace omnichannel technology to keep connected with customers.
Retailing in the 21st century is luckily well-equipped to handle the global lockdown, due to investment over the last decade in technology that connects online and physical retail. A same-day click and collect service was being trialed in many stores before the crisis hit and is now a smart way to reconnect the customer’s online experience with the physical store. Retailers should pursue technology that gives shoppers access to store-level inventory or even the number of people currently instore.
Connecting digital customers with in-store staff may be a way around the initial limitations of shopping in-store, for example, offering virtual styling services and live streaming. Live-streaming to promote e-commerce sales has skyrocketed over the last few months, working especially well with visual products from cosmetics to rural farming in China. The viewers have the opportunity to ask live questions, and including some incentive to purchase products helps to drive sales.
- Instore consumer finance
Retailers need to remember that consumers are likely to have been through a financially unstable period, with employees being laid off or furloughed when COVID-19 first took hold.
Research suggests that there will be a significant increase in sales of big-ticket items to compensate for the decline in these sales during lockdown state. Retailers must ensure that customers have enough choice for financing instore as well as online, without relying on co-branded credit cards. Without a clear repayment plan and potentially high-interest rates, such cards could be detrimental to consumers exiting a financial crisis.
Jifiti offers a friction-free consumer finance solution that can be as easily added to the in-store POS as it can online. The solution requires zero interaction with store staff, being completed and approved solely on the customer’s mobile phone, creating a contactless pre-paid card to complete the purchase.
For any more assistance on how you can trial Jifitis POS loan solution or any other help, feel free to reach out to our General Manager of Consumer Financing directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.