The recently published Visa Back to Business Survey highlights the importance that customers place on having access to contactless payment solutions to complete their purchases.
The world operates differently now than it did just six months ago, and customers have changed their expectations for checking out as a result. In the United States, where the transition to NFC and contactless payments was behind where other countries are in their adoption, the shift to was already well underway to increase convenience and add increased security against fraud. However, the pandemic has quickly accelerated the need for contactless payments everywhere, and it is becoming an expectation for those who demand protection from a different threat - the novel coronavirus.
The truth is, nobody really knows what a “post-pandemic” world looks like and just where customers’ comfort levels will reside, but it’s probably a pretty safe bet that people are more likely to be more cautious about high touchpoint areas than less - at least in the short term.
But at least right now, customers are making it clear that they are paying attention to which businesses are offering contactless payment options. A survey by Entrust Datacard found that 75% of US cardholders prefer using contactless cards as their primary payment method. Not having an in-person payment solution that allows for NFC payments like tap could end up alienating a significant portion of your customers.
Visa’s survey also highlighted the resiliency and adaptability of businesses, with 20% of merchants reporting that they have recently adopted contactless payments. The increase in the use of online payment tools and contactless payments are reducing the amount of cash that businesses are accepting. Of the businesses surveyed, 33% report that they are either accepting less cash or have stopped accepting cash altogether since the beginning of the pandemic.
The following responses highlight the value customers are placing on contactless payments:
78% of customers report that they have changed how they pay to reduce contact touchpoints
63% of customers would switch to a new business because they offer contactless payments
48% of consumers said they wouldn’t shop at a store that required them to have contact with a cashier or payment terminal
46% of customers say contactless payments is the most important safety measure they want to see stores follow
Don’t be alarmed by these responses, instead use these insights to listen to customers and see how they want to shop and purchase products in this new normal. Customers in the US still want to shop local, with 57% of customers noting that supporting the local economy is their main driver for supporting local business.
So, what’s the key to attracting customers who want to shop locally but are looking for contactless payment options? Exploring new payment technology and online payment options that can give customers flexibility and peace of mind in their shopping experience. With many normal routines and habits changing during the pandemic, customers are open-minded to finding new ways to shop at their favorite businesses and this represents a great time to shift your own business practices to adapt to the changing trends.
According to Visa’s research, nearly four in five, or 78% of consumers, have made changes to the way they pay. Including:
49% are shopping online when possible
48% are using contactless payments
46% are using cash less often
An impressive 70% of those surveyed report using a new shopping or payment method for the first time. Including trying the tap function on their payment cards, shopping online for items usually purchased in-person, utilizing curbside pickup at a restaurant, and ordering online for in-store pickup from a local retailer.
Businesses also reflect the changes in customer spending habits, with 67% trying a new approach to accepting payments. Some of the most common adjustments businesses made are launching an ecommerce site for online payments or changing their POS technology to offer more contactless options.
Luckily we currently live and work in an era with more access to technology than ever before. The issue almost becomes having access to too many options compared with not enough. To narrow down what new tools and contactless payment options you should adopt, begin by thinking about the payment experience your customers currently have and how they are interacting with your business.
Here are some common scenarios businesses might encounter and the associated tools that can deliver the contactless payment environment customers are looking for while still allowing them to support your business.
If you still serve customers at a retail location
If you operate a retail store and serve your customers in person, you can still offer a contactless checkout experience. The first thing you need to do is ensure that your card reader or terminal is NFC enabled so you have the ability to offer contactless payments at all. Even though your customers may not be touching your device as much with contactless payments, you should still regularly clean or disinfect the device. Taking the time to wipe down or disinfect the checkout area of your business acts both as a safety measure and as a reassurance to your customers that you are taking sanitization recommendations seriously. Adding signage and communicating what your new safety measures are can also help provide peace of mind.
For customers who are not comfortable physically going into your location, you can set up contactless curbside pickup as an alternative and accept payment over the phone when the customer arrives.
If you want to offer ecommerce options to customers
The pandemic has given many businesses a not-so-subtle push to explore their ecommerce options. There are many tools available that allow businesses to quickly add products and create an online checkout, making it easier than ever to launch an online store. Understanding that businesses have had to adapt on the fly because of the pandemic, consumers have been forced to be more open to different types of online experiences like a limited online catalog or menu, curbside pickup, or local pickup options.
This gives you the flexibility to launch an online store for a select sampling of your products, without needing to set up shipping integrations for products that may be difficult to ship. If you’ve been considering making the jump into online sales, now is a great time to test it out and see how adding an online sales channel can positively impact your business.
If you’re accepting payments over the phone
If setting up an online store doesn’t make sense for your business quite yet, you can serve customers and accept payments over the phone instead. There are a few different tools you can use to accept payments while still providing a contactless environment depending on your business needs. Using a virtual terminal is an easy way to accept payments over the phone without having to see a customer in person. You can open the virtual terminal in a web browser and accept payments by typing in the cardholder’s information to pull up returning customer information or enter a new customer’s payment information.
Invoices are another way to request payments from customers. Using your invoicing software’s email or text payment request functionality, it’s easy for customers to be notified if they have a payment due. They can even submit their payment right from their mobile device.
As we all adjust to new ways of doing business and interacting with one another, being flexible and adaptable will be key to finding ways to continue to support local businesses while meeting customers’ needs for contactless payments. With today’s payment technology and tools, there are plenty of features businesses can use to adjust their operations and continue to accept payments.
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