During the FN CEO Summit, Scott Compton, senior analyst at Forrester Research, hosted a workshop session aimed at helping brands with rethinking the in-store experience.
As consumer behavior shifted during the pandemic, many shoppers found more ways to shop, seeking convenience, safety and flexibility to meet ever-changing needs. And while vaccinations are leading to a more secure consumer, many new behaviors are proving to have staying power.
In fact, according to data from Forrester Research, 24% of U.S. online adults who started using curbside pickup during the pandemic expect to continue after the pandemic is over. And 57% of U.S. online adults who started using digital or contactless payment methods during the pandemic expect to continue once the pandemic has ended.
Moreover, as retail technology investments boomed in 2020, digital wallets and mobile payments — as well as automated checkout technology and frictionless payments — proved to be top priorities.
“There are a ton of emerging use cases in mobile retail,” said Compton. “We’re expecting mobile commerce to pass 17% in 2024. And in asking organizations about key objectives in improving the experience for customers, what was really interesting — this year compared to previous years — is that mobile popped in above in-store customer experience.”
Notably, retailers told Forrester there are key actions that consumers are taking on their own mobile devices at every step of the journey, including before shopping, during a store visit and after shopping. In the U.S., the company’s research found 19% of online adults used a digital payment in-stores for the first time in May 2020. At the same time, 62% of U.S. consumers used their phone to make a contactless payment, and 56% used their credit card to make a contactless payment. Further, across the U.K., France and Italy, instances of self-checkout using a mobile device have doubled and, in some cases, tripled since 2019, with interest in mobile checkout rising quickly.
Making these services as easy as possible to use is important in adapting the new behavior and creating an ideal consumer experience. In fact, it is imperative to drive the consumer experience to provide the best journey.
Online solutions like PayPal One Touch are intended to enable a frictionless consumer experience, where the merchant experience is also built to be streamlined and automated. And amid the pandemic, the resurgence of QR codes became an extremely easy way to communicate between merchant and consumers, providing a contactless way to share information and pay. Moreover, implementations of buy now, pay later (BNPL) options have provided the consumer with more options and flexibility in payments, ultimately building brand loyalty.
“What we’re seeing is that consumers have used it and are interested, and the gap between who has used it and who is interested is awareness,” said Compton. “When we survey folks about awareness, or about contactless payments or streamlined checkout, what we find is that there’s an equal number of people who have used it to the number of people who have not used it but weren’t aware of it.”
The future of the digital store, Compton said, is to think outside the box and put yourself in the shoes of your customer to try to figure out how to serve them in the most efficient way and how to provide a great experience.
“It’s going to be an exciting time these next couple of years. We’re going to see some pretty massive change,” said Compton. “Acceleration was forced upon the industry, but the industry is going to benefit from that.”
Summit sponsors include presenting sponsor PayPal and event sponsors Aetrex, Caleres, FDRA, K-Swiss, Riskified, SkyPad, Sperry, Two Ten and Zappos.