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These days consumers are a bit shy when it comes to shopping in physical stores particularly when it comes to checking out at the point of sale and having to share a touchpad with every other shopper that’s been in use all day is well known a little over a half-year into the pandemic. Recent data on the subject found there’s more than one way to avoid physical contact with the POS (point of sale) inside a store and consumer preferences are trending toward one over the other.

While contactless payment methods in the form of mobile wallets and contactless cards are both becoming more common, consumer-survey data strongly indicates while that’s better than making consumers dip their cards, it’s not quite the gold standard when it comes to giving consumers hands-off options for payments. Because as it turns out, safety-conscious customers don’t merely want their payments to be contactless but entirely touchless if at all possible.

A recent survey of approximately 2,400 consumers reported that merchants digital payment offerings impacted their willingness to shop in certain stores. The survey data also found that consumers have a demonstrable desire to avoid more traditional in-store payment options such as cash or cards that require physical contact with paper bills or POS terminals.

One might be tempted to conclude that contactless payments at the POS are consumers’ leading interest, followed by truly touchless experiences where customers order online and have their goods delivered touch-free to their cars. When asked to rank the experiences merchants must provide going forward, the truly touchless options took up two-thirds at the top of the list. For instance, consumers want curbside pick-up (66%) and delivery to their door (58%).

Some 79% of those surveyed reported that the merchants they patronize have added or improved their digital-first and touchless experiences during the pandemic. The two main areas of improvement cited were curbside pickup 55% and contactless payments 51%. Based on data taken across various surveys, that indicates merchants have gotten the memo on consumer preference not to tap directly on a POS and make as many changes as possible to give shoppers the option to never do so again.

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