How Inflation and Shortages Are Reshaping Payment TrendsAshley May
Two years since the onset of the pandemic, consumer spending has recovered by leaps and bounds—but businesses are struggling to keep up with this demand. Faced with labor shortages, supply chain issues, and record-breaking inflation, merchants are finding it a challenge to provide products and services in a timely manner.
In a testament to their resilience, merchants have seamlessly adopted new technologies that allow them to provide the same high quality of service in today’s environment. Keep reading to learn more about some common pain points currently faced by merchants, and the solutions made possible thanks to payment technology.
Challenge: High Delivery Costs Solution: Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS)
Over the past couple of years, customers have become increasingly reliant on ordering online — and not just for splurges, but also for everyday staples like groceries and toiletries. For merchants, selling online can be a great way to grow sales, but it does bring with it added costs associated with shipping and inventory management.
To reduce delivery costs while continuing to reap the benefits of e-commerce, more and more merchants are offering curbside pickup and buy online, pick up in-store. In fact, some big-name stores like Saks are even paying customers to choose BOPIS when checking out online.
BOPIS and curbside pickup fuse the in-store and online shopping experience in a way that grows sales for the merchant and boosts convenience for the customer — all while cutting out shipping costs for both parties. Adding BOPIS to the checkout flow is a great way for merchants to minimize the costs and labor associated with order fulfillment. The good news is, today’s online payment gateways make it easy to fully sync online and offline checkout channels.
Challenge: Labor Shortages Solution: Unattended Retail and Online Order Ahead
With a record number of workers dropping out of the labor force, businesses are struggling to meet customer demand — or even keep their doors open. The restaurant industry has been particularly hard hit by this trend, and according to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 78% of restaurant owners don’t have enough employees to meet the needs of their existing clientele.
Restaurants and other establishments that don’t have enough cashiers, attendants, or waitstaff are turning to new payment acceptance channels both in-store and online. Thanks to new technologies, customers can place orders and pay without the need for on-site personnel.
Self-service kiosks and tablets allow customers to choose the desired product or service and make a payment at their convenience. Not only do these devices solve labor shortage challenges, but they also provide a high-tech customer experience that features colorful and customizable digital displays.
Merchants who want to offer unattended checkout but would prefer not to buy new hardware can opt for QR code payments. All that the merchant needs to do is get their own unique QR code that they can display on-site. Then, customers can pay simply by scanning the QR code with their mobile device, which will open up a webpage in their browser in which they can enter payment information.
Giving customers the option to pay for their orders ahead of time online is another great way for businesses to accept payments without the need for manual labor. This solution is ideal for restaurants and service providers such as dry cleaners or mechanics. To accept a payment, the business owner simply texts or emails the customer with a link to a secure online form for inputting payment information.
Challenge: Inventory Shortages Solution: Gift Cards
Many businesses today are facing challenges when it comes to order fulfillment. This past holiday season, 29% of surveyed customers said they were planning on buying more gift cards than usual due to supply chain disruptions. Fortunately, there are a number of robust and customer-friendly gift card programs on the market for merchants to choose from. And increasingly, gift card solutions can be merged with loyalty programs to offer customers value that outlasts the funds on the gift card.
Despite the shortcoming and stressors of today’s economic climate, business owners are finding ways to come out ahead. As merchants acclimate to the changing environment, many are settling on a new normal that incorporates the next generation of payment and retail solutions. Being able to pivot to a constantly-shifting world makes all the difference for merchants — and fortunately, with the help of a payment gateway like Cardknox, it’s that much easier.