Entering a retail store in 2013 is becoming much less necessary thanks to almost everything being available online and to-your-door deliveries. With the momentum clearly moving in that direction, I took a second to think what I’m really saying goodbye to when I leave retail behind. More importantly, I think about the reasons that I want to avoid it.
Browsing the isles or shelves in-store is actually a pretty enjoyable experience, assuming you’re in a store that you chose, not one you’ve been dragged into by your better half. So if seeing, touching and even trying products in-store is so wonderful, what’s the problem?
The answer I arrived at is the transaction. Let’s face it, cash is a deprecated method in which to exchange value for goods. The cash exchange is a choke point in the retail experience and creates delays which result in cues. These cues are not only a source of frustration, but also turn that wonderful exploratory retail experience into a hassle you’d rather avoid.
Last year I requested a new card from my bank, a payWave enabled card that would enable me to simply tap and pay for transactions less than $100. This has changed my relationship with retail. While the difference between inserting your card and typing a 4-digit pin, to tapping to transact may seem small, in practice, it’s dramatically different.
As the number of locations that support payWave grow from fast food, to supermarkets, to petrol stations and even corner stores, payWave is accepted almost everywhere I shop. It feels a lot like the rollout of Eftpos, only faster, it’s now strange if the Eftpos terminal doesn’t support it.
For those businesses that have switched, transacting with them is now a quick pleasure rather than an exhaustive back and forward. While most stores will look at their retail employees as a beneficial element to customer service, when it comes to paying for goods, they are simply getting in the way. No I don’t want to use a loyalty card and no I don’t want stamps with that, just let me pay.
Every business I talk to, speaks of a new breed of educated consumer that has done their research prior to ever setting foot in their store. This means customers have usually entered the store because the goods are the cheapest or most convenient place to purchase, so the last thing you want to do is make it difficult to give you money.
The future of retail needs to be rethought. For the foreseeable future there will always be a role for staff to make recommendations and assist some customers, but retail outlets of the future will become much more like well structured warehouses. There’ll always be attempts to upsell customers while they are in-store, but making the in-store experience as efficient as possible will be critical to the bricks and mortar stores surviving in the future.
Supermarkets have already begun this transition with an increasing number of self-service isles that are constantly flooded with consumers that don’t want to be slowed down by traditional isles with customer service representatives.
Are you using tap-to-pay or still hamstrung by security fears ?