Shoppers Are Embracing Contactless Services In-Store — but Out-of-Stock Product Is a Challenge

Throughout April and March, millions of individuals worldwide were forced to stay home due to the novel coronavirus — and as people were stuck indoors, many became increasingly reliant on online shopping.

As consumers hunkered down in their homes, many shifted their dollars online — and even among those who chose to shop in-person, no-touch technologies have become increasingly popular, according to a new report from Euromonitor International.

According to the strategic market research firm, safety-conscious consumers have a strong preference for contactless payment options. Further, Euromonitor found that 35% of connected consumers worldwide pointed to scan-as-you-go and walk-in, walk-out technologies as factors that would improve their in-store experience. Retailers such as Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue have placed an emphasis on contact-free services during the pandemic — newly offering options such as curbside pickup, virtual appointments and same-day delivery.

In particular, buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) is a contactless option that many consumers — and retailers — embraced against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. After being forced to shutter doors in North America this March, so-called nonessential retailers, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW and Kohl’s, continued to serve consumers through curbside pickup, a service big-box chains Target and Walmart also offer. Although BOPIS has risen in popularity, Euromonitor found that one-third of shoppers — particularly those from emerging markets — reported out-of-stock products as a challenge when using click-and-collect services.

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Overall, there was unprecedented growth in e-commerce during the pandemic: According to an eMarketer forecast, U.S. online retail sales is projected to climb 18% for the year to top $700 billion, representing 14.5% of the overall retail sales pie. However, e-comm brings its own set of challenges. For one, online sales are known to result in a higher volume of returns. Per industry estimates, e-commerce return rates can be as high as 30%. Additionally, many companies were grappling with shipping slowdowns from March to May, forcing numerous retailers to notify shoppers that they should expect delays. However, shoppers may not have been too concerned about the slowdown: According to Euromonitor, shoppers prioritize price over speed when it comes to delivery. The firm found that 70% of connected consumers would rather get free shipping over paying extra for next-day or same-day shipping.

To understand how technological advances are changing commerce, Euromonitor International surveyed more than 20,000 consumers globally through March and April. 

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