'Cashless' and 'cashierless' are innovative, but shouldn't be a mandate

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Big retailers like Starbucks and Amazon are testing cashless, and even cashierless, store models to cope with demands for speed and convenience from their customers. New Worldpay research also indicates bank transfers are set to overtake credit and debit cards as the second most popular global payment method behind e-wallets.

Like it or not, we're living in the technologically advanced future we once only saw in science fiction movies, and customers expect retailers to keep up with the latest technology trends too.

With the right technologies and controls in place, consumers will soon be as comfortable with their washing machine purchasing detergent as they are with a gym receiving automatic monthly payments from their bank account.
While major retailers continually set new standards for the modern tech-enhanced shopping experience, retailers of all sizes can, and should, strategize how to modernize their approach to payments.

Orchestrating the right payments strategy shouldn’t be about forcing cashless payments into your business model or figuring out how to get your customers to pay with their thumbprint. While many consumers expect high tech features, it might not necessarily be what your consumers want. Pay close attention to patterns in the payment methods your key demographics are utilizing and evolve your payments strategy accordingly:

Keep your finger on the pulse. It’s as important to pay attention to how your customers are already paying for things as it is to read about the hot new trends. For example, while digital and mobile payments are certainly growing in popularity, especially among millennials and Gen Zers, the death of cash in the U.S. has indeed been greatly exaggerated.

And when it comes to creating your strategy, you need to know what tools you have at your disposal. There are already several futuristic payments technologies you could implement today.

Get the most out of your payments tech investments by being educated on what’s available to you, and what your customers are looking for.

Optimize your existing strategy. Retailers must examine each experience they offer and tailor their strategy based on channel. Consumers interact in very different ways and behaviors are unique for a given channel. Merchants who can leverage their channels can better serve their customers. Additionally, retailers must look at ways to build trust with the shopper. First impressions count, and a shopper’s first impression of your app, webpage or retail space goes a long way in establishing a comfortable shopping experience.

According to a recent survey from Worldpay, security concerns are the No. 1 reason for smartphone basket abandonment in the U.S. More than 70 percent of shoppers only download apps from brands and retailers that they trust. No matter the channel, a thorough analysis of the customer experience even before the payments funnel will help you tailor your desired experience for your customers.

Always be prepared. Even if you’re not ready to implement a new payment strategy today—maybe you’re waiting for the right solution to come along—there are easy steps you can take now so that you’re ready when the time is right. For example, you can consider adopting near-field communication if your key customer demographic skews towards millennials and Gen Zers. NFC is the technology needed to accept payments made by tapping a mobile phone or contactless-enabled card to a terminal.

Just be you. While you should always be aware of the latest advancements in retail technology, you also have to stay genuine to your business and your customers. It can be hard to resist the call of flashy new technology, but if your consumer base is one that is generally late to adopt new tech, you may need to plan a much slower transition to high-tech than other businesses.

No matter what size retailer you are, the cycle of modernization continues, and increasingly customers will expect convenience—which might mean providing a cashless shopping experience. It’s paramount that retailers understand where on the spectrum their business falls today, and where it is likely to be in the future—one, five, 15 years from now—so that, even if cashless doesn’t fit today, they’re ready to seize new technology when it does make sense.

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