Is your business set up to accommodate all the ways consumers are shopping today? Both online and brick-and-mortar stores have adopted new technologies and policies that allow people to shop from home (or anywhere else), have products delivered, or take advantage of curbside pickup. Shopping has changed and there is so much opportunity to shop from anywhere and from nearly any mobile device in ways that previously have only been possible inside a brick-and-mortar store or restaurant. Here are some of the technologies and habits that shoppers and businesses have adopted in order to make their shopping experiences safer and more convenient.
This new mentality of shopping from anywhere also facilitated a measure of safety because people no longer have to worry about the spreading of germs from handing over their credit cards to another person or even being in close contact at all with another human being. One way that shopping has changed involves recent technologies that promote safety using touchless (also known as contactless) payments.
Touchless Payment Options
What are touchless payment methods? They allow payments to occur using credit and debit cards, mobile devices, and key fobs that use radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC – two electronic devices within 4 cm of each other). Someone doesn’t have to physically hand their credit card to someone else, and they can often just tap or waive their credit card over a reader to complete a transaction. Some popular brands of touchless payment options are Apple pay, Google pay, Samsung pay, PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle.
Shopping has changed in a big way using Google search. Google search has been instrumental in allowing people to find out where a product can be purchased before leaving their home. But in the past, shoppers were more comfortable browsing around a brick-and-mortar store while not being as concerned about someone else in the store breathing the same air. Now people are more likely to use Google search and maybe make a few phone calls beforehand so they can pinpoint which store has the exact product they might be looking for. This has also been the case for people wanting to order out for pickup or delivery.
More than ever before, grocery chains are offering delivery services. Sometimes they’ll team up with shopping services like Instacart, or they’ll have their own employees deliver the groceries. People can also call a personal shopper service such as Shipt that will send an employee to nearly any store to purchase your groceries in addition to other products such as office supplies, pet products, pharmacy products and more.
PYMNTS.com reports that 16% of grocery shoppers have switched to digital grocery shopping, and of those, 78% of them are planning to continue grocery shopping this way. PYMNTS also reported that millennials represent the largest group who shop for groceries digitally and will likely continue that trend, while baby boomers and seniors are far more likely to continue grocery shopping using the traditional in-person method.
Curbside service at a grocery store is a service that allows someone to order over the phone or online, and the grocery store will have all the ordered groceries ready at a specific time when a store employee will load them into your vehicle.
Shoppers are now flocking to Google Maps to search for items using specific keywords such as “curbside pickup”. Smallbusiness.com states that “curbside pickup” searches on Google Maps has increased 9000% year over year, and other search terms such as “discounts”, “restaurants near me”, and “food near me” are among the top generic searches on Google Maps.
In previous years, it seemed that most Americans would usually order already-cooked meal delivery from Italian pizza places or Asian food establishments. But in the last few years, people have realized they don’t have to leave their homes to get good quality restaurant food. In fact, nearly every type of restaurant started offering their food to be delivered from their own staff or through a food delivery service. It even became possible to get fast food delivered. Someone simply pays a fee per delivery, or they pay a monthly or yearly fee to receive free delivery throughout the month or year, respectively. Some of the most commonly used online restaurant delivery services include Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Delivery.com.
Retail has also seen its share of technology-related changes. Do-it-yourself hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have seen increases in business because people who are now working from home have decided they want to fix up their homes.
People working from home have also decided they would rather exercise at home. For this reason, they have been purchasing exercise equipment and activewear for their in-home workouts. However, cosmetics and hygiene product sales have declined because people don’t have to go to their place of work anymore where they are required to look their best.
Shopping tools using virtual reality technology have been gaining popularity because they allow shoppers to get a glimpse at what certain clothing items or accessories will look like on themselves. This also holds true for all kinds of makeup, hairstyles, and jewelry.
Social Media Shopping
Maybe you’re not familiar with social media shopping, but it’s simply clicking on an ad that pops up in your Facebook feed or other social media platforms. You may be seeing an ad because you fit the profile of a target “avatar” for that product, so an ad pops up in front of you. If you click on it, you’ll be taken to an online store and shown that product and more that you will likely be interested in.
Amazon has turned into an online shopping mega-giant that has changed shopping habits forever. You can purchase practically anything you need from Amazon, and you can often receive it the next day at no additional charge. Other brick-and-mortar stores and malls may be closing down, but Amazon has watched their profits soar in recent years. Grocery shopping from Amazon has also gained popularity among shoppers in the last couple of years.
While some shoppers have been using Amazon for years, a large portion only started their Amazon shopping experiences in the last couple of years, and that’s when they realized how easy and convenient it is. These people will likely become lifetime online shoppers.
Global commerce has changed in tandem with people’s current shopping habits. New methods of shopping are being offered that allow people to shop with less effort in a safer and more convenient environment, the comfort of their own home. Technology has helped fuel these modern shopping methods, and the new changes will certainly change shopping forever.