Payments are evolving at a rapid pace. As omnichannel shopping experiences have become the norm, our smartphones have opened up new pathways for purchasing. Today’s consumers and merchants exchange payments seamlessly across any number of channels along a customer’s journey.
For far too long, many of us took in-store shopping and restaurant experiences for granted. We didn’t appreciate the vital importance of going out to shop or dine and what it meant for our happiness and well-being. 2020 showed that our High Streets might be a bit more fragile that we thought.
Sadly, many familiar shops and restaurants are now gone forever.
After this past year, consumers yearn for in-store experiences. Pandemic restrictions showed just how important a trip to the shops can be. For some, shopping and dining out is nothing less than a necessity, while for others it represents a form of therapy or an excuse to meet up and socialize.
What does the future of the in-store experience look like from a payment perspective? Ultimately it is a matter of providing choice – choice for the merchant and choice for the consumer. Merchants need to be ready for customers eager to catch up on lost time enjoying the in-person experience.
Holistic payment experiences for your customers
Some core values remain as important today as they ever have for merchants who need a reliable and secure payment service. Yet as payments become more complex, merchants need more value from their payment systems. Merchants today are looking for business insight from payments solutions. They’re looking for accurate, timely and granular transaction reporting to provide a clear view on how their business is performing.
The hardest – yet most important – part of the payment equation for merchants is finding a trusted partner who has the experience and ability to truly understand your business. Better still is to have one who understands the challenges of taking payments and can help you solve them.
Merchants should use the opportunity of re-opening to enhance the in-store shopping experience. Rather than being a static experience drawn from the past, merchants and their payment partners are reimagining point-of-sale payments as part of a holistic omnichannel experience for consumers.
Transforming payments to meet a new era of mobility
Mobile payment solutions are helping merchants recreate in-store experiences that aren’t anchored to a central checkout register. Mobile payment solutions for iOS and Android are now commonplace, allowing merchants to download an app onto a smart device and start taking payments.
Today merchants can augment, re-design or rip up their current in-store model by blending fixed point of sales with mobile or unattended solutions. Mobile payment solutions enable a more personal shopping experience, support social distancing and help queue busting at peak times. Mobile credit card machines are allowing store associates to do everything from render assistance to help customers pay in and around your shop.
The point-of-sale terminal is not the only part of the equation that’s gone mobile. Consumers are now paying with digital wallets contained on apps on their mobile devices, while contactless cards help reduce physical contact even further. The point of sale is so mobile, so flexible, that it exists anywhere a customer and a store associate are with their mobile devices.
In the hospitality sector, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will result in even greater consumer demand for flexible dining (and payment) experiences. Mobile card acceptance allows servers to take payments, accept gratuity and split the bill at the table without making repeated POS trips.
Rebuilding smarter in-store experiences
What about the consumer? From their perspective, choice is paramount. Consumers have spent the last year constantly having to adapt to new challenges. As consumers return to shopping and dining in-store, it’s vital that merchants and restaurateurs embrace consumers with choices.
Contactless adoption has rocketed over the last 12 months, including by card and digital wallet. Contactless options should be integrated into whatever point-of-sale payment solutions you develop, from fixed credit card terminals to mobile payment acceptance. International shoppers want the option to pay in their own currency or to see the payment prompts in their own language. They may also be more comfortable using their domestic payment method, so broadening the range of payment types can be of significant benefit.
The next normal won’t be like the old normal. As consumers return to stores, it’s time to look to the future. Flexible payment solutions can and should be leveraged to produce compelling in-store experiences to welcome consumers back to the High Street, and most importantly, to retain them.