The key to safe and contactless retail is in your pocket

By Samuel Mueller, CEO, Scandit

COVID-19 changed retail overnight, and retailers are going to be living with those changes for the foreseeable future.

Contactless retail was already becoming a trend before the pandemic – now it’s the new reality. Customers have responded well to the expanded world of self-scanning, click-and-collect, and home delivery. In fact, Scandit customer data shows that some retailers have seen up to a 500% increase in transactions through these contactless solutions.

The good news for brick-and-mortar retailers who are yet to complete their digital transformation, is that the key to blending the physical and digital is right in their pocket – the everyday smartphone.

The smartphone as an essential component of PPE kit

The smartphone is becoming an essential component of PPE kit for us all: you have your mask, your hand sanitiser, and your phone. With the right apps, a smartphone can be the single device that an employee uses to perform multiple retail operations tasks – shelf management, stock counts or price label verification, for example. This software-smartphone strategy is highly cost effective and the device itself can be owned either by the retailer or the employee.

A personal smartphone with the right apps is the contactless tool that minimises human interaction while shoppers self-scan, learn about and buy products. And it’s also a safe and user-friendly tool for employees to complete everyday tasks – a high-performance scanning app can make a smartphone as powerful as a dedicated scanner.

Traditional bespoke scanners pose an obvious hygiene risk for shoppers, and an extra burden for retailers to manage adequate cleaning between use. The simplicity and speed of mobile self-scanning and Scan-and-Go apps on a customer’s own smartphone makes it possible to maintain distance from others and feel confident about walking into a store.

Blending the physical and digital

As well as making the store a safe environment, retailers are also having to adapt to the surging demand for self-scanning and self-checkout in store.

The pandemic may have heightened the need for quick, contactless retail, but it is a demand that is set to continue for years to come. Today’s always-on consumers expect to make fast, well-informed buying decisions in physical stores just like they do online. Having the ability to shop when you want, however you want and in the place you want, is ultimately dependent on digital solutions fit for the modern citizen. The everyday smartphone is the tool that can deliver this blend of physical and digital for competitive retailers.

Luckily for retailers, enterprise-grade scanning on smartphones is surprisingly affordable, easy to implement, and requires no infrastructure changes to stores. Whether in the hands of customers or employees, the smartphone is the ultimate tool in contactless retail.

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