Contactless payment through apps: A realistic future?

September 17, 2020

Mainly as a result of the developments in the last few months, there is a strong trend towards contactless payment in the retail sector. Most retail stores encourage their customers to pay by card, and this usually works by simply holding the card up to an NFC device. This process can be made even more comfortable and quicker with a customer-oriented service app that allows goods to be paid directly on the customer's smartphone. Immerse yourself in the benefits of entirely digital shopping experiences.

Not only because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it must be noted that cash and card readers that are touched by hundreds of people every day, do not meet modern hygiene standards and are slowly but surely developing into outdated methods. This now raises the question of alternatives to conventional cash register systems. In the future, the answer to this question could be apps that enable a payment process entirely on the customer's smartphone. One example of this is the Danish company COOP, which is currently testing such a system with its "Bip & Betal" feature as a pilot project in some stores. 

What could such a payment system look like? 

Smartphones today offer all the functions required. They are secure, there are contactless payment options, and the camera is increasingly used as a universal scanner on top of just taking pictures. Customers can simply attach the smartphone to a cradle on the shopping cart or basket to immediately scan every product. Once the purchase is complete, the customer can now click on "Pay" and easily choose between several online payment methods. Once the goods have been paid, the customer receives a QR code with which he can leave the store. Theft can thus be avoided.

Another possibility is the connection to a shopping list app. These apps are already used by millions of customers today. If one integrates the list into their app, every available item and its location is being shown. One can even pay for their purchase at home and then just pick up the goods. For a special fee, the packed shopping bag is waiting for its customer at the entrance already. That is the new flexibility of such a system.

The advantages 

Apart from the apparent aspect of hygiene mentioned above, this modern method has other decisive advantages for customers and retailers:

1. Reduced costs: Stores can be opened without/with significantly less staff. Thus, the fixed costs are considerably reduced. 

2. Time savings: Not only do costs decrease - the time spent by customers is also minimized considerably, as queues can no longer form. Purchases can be paid at any time.

3. Opening hours: Since only a few employees, or none at all, are now required, branches can be opened significantly longer or around the clock. 

4. Space: As a checkout area is now obsolete, stores can operate in much smaller areas. 

5. Repairs: Together with the damage-prone hardware scanners, costs for maintenance, repair, or replacement of defective devices are now eliminated. 

6. A gain of data: Through payment via apps, useful data on customers’ purchasing behavior, or the performance of individual stores can be collected. App users can also benefit from customized coupons and promotional offers. 

7. Loyalty: According to a study, 66% of customers prefer digital over conventional solutions. Thus, retailers especially secure the commitment of future generations.

Requirements

Introducing such a system sounds futuristic and risky, but it doesn't have to be. Many possibilities exist to install such a system partially. For example, cashiers can briefly check the purchase when leaving to guarantee security, instead of scanning each part individually. As an essential requirement, however, the market needs an app connected to the merchandise management system to retrieve all prices. A barcode scanner SDK, like the Scanbot SDK, is also required. Thus, you can not just scan any item’s barcode, but also prevent fraud through customer verification by scanning the MRZ number on the customer’s ID document. 

Summary

New ways in retail are possible with today's technology without huge investments. The advantages of permanently binding customers through individual marketing campaigns are unlimited. Courageous retailers are heralding a new generation of shopping that shines with much more convenience and functionality.

If you want to find out more about the prospects of integrating a Scanner SDK into your retail workflow, please check out this blog post. In case of any questions around the Scanbot Scanner SDK, our experts would love to assist you and find the perfect solution for your use case.

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