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Remote Payments and Curbside Pick-up: The New Reality of Retail Commerce

The world-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down merchants’ brick-and-mortar retail businesses in an effort to keep people safe and healthy. With restrictions loosening in some communities, some such merchants have begun to reopen but now must face adjusting to new ways for conducting business. These may include handling orders by phone or email to serve customers who are uncomfortable shopping in-store, managing physical distancing of in-store shoppers, installing protective barriers at the check-out, managing line-ups outside of their store in order to comply with new occupancy guidelines and regularly disinfecting payment terminals among other measures. The retail sector has been impacted by both the regulatory response to the COVID-19 pandemic and by consumers new and ever evolving attitudes. How long this new reality will last, no one can really predict at this point. However, what we can all agree on is that the impact on both retailers and consumers will likely linger for quite some time and some of these changes may be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

With these new realities comes the need for new ways to serve customers. Short of emulating the e-commerce online model, the idea of remote ordering, remote payments and curbside pick-up is one that many brick and mortar merchants are turning to. This is pushing traditional retailers to evolve accordingly. In order to flourish in this new environment, they will need to adopt new operating procedures, implement new contactless payment technologies and possibly even find ways to service their customers at a distance through video, phone or other electronic means.

The good news is that contactless commerce is not new to shoppers, as many large retailers and grocers have been offering it as a value-added convenience service for several years now. As more retailers begin to adopt these practices, they will find many of their customers are ready to embrace it.

For retailers who are just beginning to adapt to this new world of contactless commerce, distance payment and curbside pick-up will become a lifeline to help make managing customers’ new shopping expectations into a process that works for everyone. Meanwhile, retailers- and the businesses that support them- who fully embrace this new curbside pick-up approach will continue to innovate. For those who are able to adapt swiftly, the potential rewards may prove to be significant.

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