Digital TransformationRetailHow app-free contactless payments are retailers’ and shoppers’ little helpers

How app-free contactless payments are retailers’ and shoppers’ little helpers

Val Vacante highlights the epic growth in contactless payments and how app-free experiences are the ultimate helper for retailers and shoppers

30-second summary:

  • Retailers are rapidly reinventing the shopping experiences by exploring technologies to increase customer engagement, sales, and loyalty
  • Because in-person shopping remains attractive, brands are embracing safe, self-service, contactless payment technology
  • The epic growth of contactless payments continues increasing 150 percent in less than a year — 87 percent of shoppers say they prefer to shop in stores with touchless or robust self-checkout experiences and 74 percent of global consumers say they will continue to use contactless payment post-pandemic
  • Contactless payment technology is shaping the future of retail

The pandemic continues to alter the landscape of our daily lives – how we learn and work (remotely), where we live (urban flight), ways we “visit” the doctor (online), even how we dress (comfortably). The way we shop, and consume goods and services have been thoroughly upended by the pandemic, perhaps more than any other pastime on the planet.

Retailers are rapidly reinventing the shopping experience by exploring ways to optimize omnichannel experiences, select the right technologies to increase customer engagement, sales, and loyalty, while thoughtfully investing in innovations that will accelerate their product portfolios.

In a global survey conducted by McKinsey, executives queried said the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios raced ahead by seven years. Meanwhile, digitization of customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations have accelerated by three to four years.

It’s not just retailers who are seeking retail innovation, everyday shoppers are adopting new technologies and new ways to shop in the physical and digital world. Consumer spending through non-store channels grew 31.3 percent over November 2019, according to Digital Commerce 360. Digital sales among leading beauty brands, including our client L’Oreal, have gone through the roof, with one brand seeing a 278 percent rise in online sales year over year.

As interactive and innovative as digital experiences have become, in-person shopping remains attractive despite social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. In the grocery sector alone, two-thirds of U.S. shoppers say they still prefer to buy in physical stores. Sure, curbside-pickup and delivery have extended firm, deep roots in retail, but there’s still those pop in, grab what you need, and go shopping necessities.

The epic growth of contactless payments continues 

And this has given rise to a resurgence in self-service, contactless payment, along with innovations in technology that make it easier for retailers to deploy.

  • Contactless payments have increased 150 percent since 2019
  • Today, 87 percent of shoppers say they prefer to shop in stores with touchless or robust self-checkout experiences
  • 74 percent of global consumers say they will continue to use contactless payment post-pandemic
  • Market size is expected to surpass US$ 4.60 Trillion by 2027

The allure of the technology is simple: consumers want safe, fast, contactless payment. But retailers may find getting there can be an expensive journey on a long and winding road

Shoppers and retailers are “apped-out”

Today, customers are tapped out on apps with the majority of U.S. consumers downloading zero apps per month and 21 percent of consumers abandoning newly downloaded apps after only one use. In fact, 77 percent never use an app again 72 after hours of installing it.

In addition to app fatigue, the cost of developing, deploying, and maintaining can run as high as $1,000,000 and it can take from half a year to upwards of one year to complete. Unless your retail enterprise is already invested in Progressive Web Apps, an app may not make sense.

Autonomous checkouts: a bit of magic at a high cost

By some estimates, autonomous checkout solutions could cost one million dollars in technology expenditure per location and still require a mobile app and high-cost technology such as artificial intelligence computer vision (AICV), cameras, sensors, store renovations, and in some cases, facial recognition and biometric data.

This doesn’t factor integration into the equation. Existing commerce technology ecosystems are growing more complex. Introducing autonomous checkouts into this spiderweb can be an expensive endeavor – to say nothing of remediating consumer privacy concerns.

Uncovering and igniting innovation

These are all the reasons we challenged our team of global innovators to create better, safer, faster, more personalized contactless shopping technology that extends existing web-based experiences without the heavy investment of other solutions on the market.


Val Vacante is one of the Top 25 Women in Tech, is a speaker at SXSW Conference, CES, and PSFK. Val is also Director of Strategy at LiveArea. Find Val on Twitter @valvacante.

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