The coronavirus crisis has done a number on retail. Dozens of well-known chains have been forced into bankruptcy, and we've witnessed massive numbers of store closures. But on a more upbeat note, the pandemic has forced retailers to rethink the way they transact with consumers and allow them to access goods. In fact, here are a few positive changes that have emerged from the pandemic that will likely remain in effect once it's over.
1. Touchless payments
Consumers have long paid for purchases using cash, debit cards, or credit cards, but often, this requires them to physically hand something to a cashier, thereby fueling the spread of germs. That's less than ideal, even in a non-COVID world. But thanks to the pandemic, retailers have gotten smarter about implementing touchless payment systemsthat allow shoppers to check out safely. Now, many stores allow consumers to simply tap or wave their credit cards on a reader rather than deal with swiping or inserting them. Not only are these systems designed to prevent the spread of germs, but they're also said to be better at preventing criminals from stealing credit card numbers. Talk about a win-win.
Many retailers have adopted a BOPIS system to allow consumers to minimize their time spent in shops. Short for "buy online, pick up in store," BOPIS allows consumers to make an online purchase, only instead of having to wait days for an order to ship, shoppers can instead head over to a local store and scoop up their items right away. BOPIS limits the extent to which consumers have to interact with others in a physical environment. It's also a huge time-saver, and for that reason, it's a system that's likely to stay in place even once consumers are no longer panicked over the idea of having to navigate store aisles or wait in a checkout line.
3. Curbside pickup
Like BOPIS, curbside pickups help consumers get the goods they need without having to face the risks of entering a store during a pandemic. Shoppers can call into a store or place an order online and retrieve their purchase outdoors. In fact, some curbside models allow consumers to simply drive up, pop open their trunks, and receive their purchases without having to leave their vehicles. Once the pandemic ends, we'll likely see curbside pickups stick around. Not only is this option convenient in general, but it's practically a blessing for parents of young children for whom the simple act of getting in and out of the car is a hassle.
Long-lasting changes could help retailers thrive
Retailers were struggling even before the pandemic hit, but the coronavirus crisis has put many in an even more precarious situation. Those that want to thrive in a post-pandemic world should consider retaining these changes, as they all offer customers a better shopping experience on a whole. One major advantage physical retailers have over online giants is the ability to complete same-day transactions without having to rely on shipping. Touchless payments, BOPIS, and curbside pickup could therefore give retailers even more of an edge for the long haul.