Prepare retailers for the return to brick-and-mortar holiday shopping.

Written by Ryan on

Consumers have been engaging with brands online more and more over the past two years. COVID-19 mitigation efforts and convenience helped pave the way for 2020 to become the year of the “digital holiday shopping season.” But after nearly two years of working, eating, streaming, and shopping from home, it seems consumers may be preparing to return to brick-and-mortar shopping this holiday season. 

A safe return to physical stores. 

According to a consumer survey by human behavior and analytics firm Escalent, 61% of participants want to browse and shop in-store as they did prior to the pandemic. And while consumers may be ready to return to brick-and-mortar shopping, stores should be ready to operate with health safety policies that help keep shoppers safe. 

Many shoppers now view contactless payments as a means to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

  • Contactless payments: A Fiserv survey shows 42% of pandemic-era consumers prefer contactless, tap-and-pay transactions with a contactless card or mobile wallet. 
  • QR code payments: The payment method allowing buyers to use smartphone cameras to scan a QR code is experiencing a surge in adoption due to its contactless nature. 

Tap-to-pay and QR code payment methods are also often preferred among consumers because they’re fast, convenient, and secure, which will make them go-to payments for shoppers after the holidays — and after the pandemic ends.  

Online payments are still key to maximizing holiday revenues. 

Even though shoppers are planning trips to physical stores this holiday season, ecommerce is still expected to be a big factor. In fact, last year was a record-breaking year for online sales. Cyber Monday online spending was the largest in history, rising 15.6% to a record-breaking $10.78 billion, according to an annual holiday report from eMarketer. In addition, online consumer spending helped to grow overall ecommerce by 32.5% to $185.88 billion during the 2020 holiday season. There is no reason to believe that consumers who purchased holiday gifts online last year won’t do at least some of their shopping in the same way in 2021.

Furthermore, as concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant and supply chain disruptions grow, expect consumers to leverage buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside options this holiday season. Purchasing online will not only help shoppers avoid crowds, but they will also ensure that the items they want are in stock and ready for them when they arrive to pick them up. For the retailer, BOPIS and curbside pickup processes are more efficient with an omnichannel payments solution that shares data with the ecommerce platform, in-store sales associates, and the returns counter.   

Getting BOPIS and curbside pickup right is also vital to maximizing revenues. As consumers’ appetite for ecommerce grew in 2020, so did their dissatisfaction with “glitchy” online experiences. As a result, retailers should prepare to provide positive BOPIS and digital shopping experiences, including payments and refunds, as well as efficient processes for either in-store or curbside pickup. 

No turning back from omnichannel.

As the 2021 holiday shopping season kicks off, stores must continue an omnichannel approach that caters to all shoppers — those who want to return to brick-and-mortar shopping and those who want to browse, order, and pick up in-store or curbside — and they all demand convenient payment options.

Help your merchants cover all bases with the mobile and digital payment methods that consumers expect to use this holiday season.  Contact North American Bancard to learn more.