In some ways, the outbreak of the pandemic has sped up the inevitable; cash is now all but extinct. Yet consumer behaviour has shifted in less expected directions — with a new generation of shoppers graduating into the retail world, bringing new behaviours and payment methods with them.
Keep reading to discover three key shifts brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this affects the way retailers transact with customers.
A Cashless Economy
Cash is no longer king. The most recent Consumer Payments Survey, conducted by the Reserve Bank of Australia every three years, paints a bleak picture for the future of physical currency.
In 2016, 43 percent of in-person payments in Australia were made with cash, accounting for 30 percent of total purchases. Three years later, in 2019, just 32 percent of all in-person payments were made using cash. What’s even more interesting is that those purchases accounted for just 19 percent of all in-person purchases — and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores, and cash became a virus carrier.
The steep rate of decline in cash usage is difficult to ignore. With smart devices and new forms of payment picking up in popularity, which forms of currency should retailers be aware of?
Digital Wallets and Smart Devices
There’s another element to the death of cash: a generational shift that requires you, as a retailer, to adapt the way you accept payment. 41 percent of Generation Z (those born between January of 1995 and December of 2002) expect to be able to pay with digital wallets.
“Trends are coming and going quicker than ever, and they’re the generation who keep up with every single one. This translates into their spending,” says Esha Watt, co-owner of Fluent Store, a boutique sneaker retail store in Perth, Western Australia.
“They don’t have credit cards and don’t often carry their cards on them. Nowadays, they can use the likes of Apple Pay.”
It’s imperative that your business is able to accept payment via Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay with a next-generation EFTPOS terminal, and that staff are comfortable processing such transactions.
Innovative Payment Solutions
Various businesses in Australia have already started accepting WeChat Pay and similar methods of payment, including name brands such as Chemist Warehouse, Cue, Furla, Longchamp, New Balance and Daiso — just to name a few names of the 10,000+ businesses onboard.
As borders open and foreign students — together with tourists — return to Australia, it will become more important for retailers to accept these forms of payment.
The key takeaway is that businesses in Australia need to accommodate modern payment solutions, which are expected by a growing portion of customers, without sacrificing speed or security. If you’re unable to accept a customer’s payment, you risk losing their business.
The easiest way to ensure your business is able to take payment from every customer — no matter which payment method they choose — is to choose an EFTPOS terminal provider that invests business resources into constantly innovating the technology powering its terminals.
At Zeller, our forward-thinking development team monitors payment trends and then builds functionality that allows your business to accept these modern payment methods.
The In-Person Shopping Experience is Critical
Although foot traffic has slowed in the last 18 months, shoppers are keen to return to your store. In fact, having a physical shopfront may be even more important to your youngest customers; Gen Z shoppers prefer to shop in a physical store rather than online. Three times as many young shoppers would rather browse and shop at a brick-and-mortar store than scroll through websites.
“It’s the experience — making a day of the shopping trip with their friends, visiting the nearby sites,” says Watt. Public health orders may have forced shoppers to turn their attention online, but it’s not their first choice.
Yet when they return, there ought to be some changes. COVID-safety is now a critical consideration of the in-store experience — it’s important to create a hygienic space, leave a safe amount of space between customers, and make transactions as contactless as possible.
Retailers could take this one step further and offer roadside pick-up, or phone orders for those customers who prefer to pay remotely. This technology helps retailers, like Melbourne’s Pavers Plus, to continue operating even with strict lockdown restrictions in place.
“Zeller’s MOTO phone payment feature is intuitive and simple … we’re still able to operate the business without customers coming into the store,” says General Manager Tim Finocchiaro.
“Even when we’re not in lockdown, we process a lot of transactions over the phone — from repeat customers, landscape designers, or customers who have already visited the showroom and picked out what they want.”
With a mobile EFTPOS machine powered by a SIM card, like Zeller Terminal, you can accept payment at the curb. Or, accept payment over the phone with Zeller’s MOTO functionality.
Safety and trust are in focus
Fraudsters typically take advantage of crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Consumer scams have been rife during the COVID-19 pandemic, and your customers are likely on high alert.
For this reason, it’s more critical than ever to partner with financial services providers that have appropriate safeguards in place. Not only will this protect your business’s takings, it will also put customers at ease.
Watt recently took Fluent Store to Perth’s biggest sneaker convention, where other stores were asking customers to find an ATM and return to complete their purchase.
“Some other stores were accepting cash or bank transfers, but we were able to continue to accept transactions with the Zeller Terminal without breaking our workflow. It helped create a more trustworthy and friendly payment experience for our customers – which we feel is important, especially when you’re dealing with rare sneakers as they’re at an above-average price point,” says Watt.
When considering any financial services provider, it’s important to check whether it’s backed by a team of security experts. Zeller’s Support team monitors transactions round the clock — 24 hours, 7 days a week — to prevent fraud before it happens. Backed up by intelligent machine monitoring, our team works to identify and respond to fraudulent attacks in real-time.
While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail industry is still being felt, the road to recovery is becoming increasingly more clear. It is critical for retailers to think through the longer-term implications and what it means for the way transactions are processed.
Learn more about how Zeller can help prepare your business for the future of retail here.