The biggest retail season of the year is upon us, and retailers are feeling confident about holiday shopping trends despite record levels of inflation and elevated interest rates, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 forecast on holiday retail sales. The NRF’s latest report also indicates that as more households began their holiday shopping earlier in the season, many merchants can expect to see a notable return to in-store shopping, with consumers focusing on deals and promotions to help stretch their budgets this year.
One thing is certain: retailers will need to be in tune with consumer expectations and eliminate relevant pain points at checkout, including long wait times. To make the most of holiday sales and effectively manage higher consumer traffic, leveraging the right payments technology is key to creating a truly frictionless customer experience. Partnering with a reliable payments partner can give merchants access to the best point-of-sale technology suited for their business.
Quick and Easy Checkout: A Differentiator
Conveniences that emerged out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic are now becoming the expectation among consumers. Delivering frictionless checkout options will help retailers maintain a competitive advantage as the demand for broader convenience grows and new payment methods become increasingly popular.
‘How Would You Like to Pay Today?’
A mix of payment options will enable businesses to operate more efficiently while meeting consumers’ payment needs. Providing a payments system that’s reliable and can quickly process all payment methods will make a difference when customers are lining up or making multiple purchases simultaneously.
Contactless Means Frictionless
Customers appreciate a quick checkout, particularly around the busy holiday season. Many customers find solutions such as “tapping to pay” via credit cards or mobile wallets to be faster, ultimately speeding up the transaction process and eliminating friction at checkout.
Self-Checkout is a Helper
Implementing kiosk ordering, QR codes, or offering shoppers the option to pay ahead amid an ongoing labor shortage can help speed up the checkout process without overwhelming staff members. Smart devices and mobile POS systems with the flexibility to be used in-store or on the go can also drive sales and win over customers.
Sales Reporting and Loyalty
Many of the latest payment systems also offer merchants detailed and custom reporting, which can be leveraged for insights to power loyalty and marketing campaigns. This can range from detecting frequent customers — and potentially rewarding them — to offering coupons and promotions to first-time shoppers who can potentially return and establish a greater engagement in the future. Many payment systems also offer tools to enable merchants to send text message (SMS) promotions, which come in handy when announcing holiday deals or promoting seasonal products or services.
Building Loyalty Through Social Media
For online and in-store retailers, social media is a great ally for building meaningful relationships with customers and remaining top of mind every holiday season. Optimizing digital marketing campaigns through targeted ads can help merchants, at a low cost, promote brand awareness and communicate useful information, such as store updates, new inventory, or holiday events and promotions.
Although economic uncertainty is an underlying concern this year, consumers are expected to shop smart this holiday season — looking for the best deals and shopping earlier than ever, still shopping online but many also returning to in-store shopping for a more traditional shopping experience. By leveraging the latest tech in the market, merchants can focus on creating an enjoyable customer experience that will foster loyalty among shoppers in every season.
Afshin Yazdian is president, merchant solutions at PaySafe, a company that provides simple and secure payment solutions to businesses of all sizes around the world.