In the process of adapting to the swiftly shifting conditions of pandemic life, retail brands of all sizes were tasked – no matter how prepared they were – to make the digital transformation leap or perish. Contactless commerce was already gaining momentum before the pandemic, and is now a modern best practice for retailers’ digital channels. Customers now have a radically different set of expectations from retailers, especially in the capabilities of their digital experience.

Lucidworks Program Manager for Digital Commerce, Garrett Schwegler, recently sat down with the Taking Care of Business podcast, a series that focuses on hardware retailing, to talk about the consumer behavior and expectations that now drive contactless (or lower contact) commerce. The discussion delved into how smaller retail brands in particular can keep pace with the rapidly evolving consumer and implement a digital experience strategy that helps them meet the contactless demands of their customers.

Listen to the full episode below and read on for the most important points discussed:

1. The Definition of Convenience Has Changed

Convenience no longer means an easily accessible parking lot at a nearby store location. Now the customer expects to research, discover, purchase, and receive what they need all from a single point of interaction – be it their phone or laptop. If they are on a desktop, the customer is looking for answers on a brand’s homepage from the moment they hit it. If brands can’t provide an answer quickly, they lose the customer – possibly for good. If smaller brands want to keep up, they need to adopt technology that delivers the same fast, personalized, and thoughtful service that a customer would expect from walking into their store.

2. Contactless Commerce Is More Than Just Fulfillment

We’ve traditionally thought of contactless commerce as fulfillment or the bottom part of the funnel. The most common examples include curb-side pickup, or picking up from something like an Amazon locker. While these solutions are great, there is a lot more potential for contactless commerce to recreate the in-store experience digitally. For example, contactless commerce can include content discovery, product discovery, self service, in-store kiosks, and more. These are all elements that virtually remove human interaction, yet allow the customer to find and learn information about what they are looking for—a much broader definition than just fulfillment.

3. Technology Can Help Establish and Strengthen a Brand Experience

A common misconception that small and midsized retail brands might have about contactless commerce is that the personal touch of a customer’s brand experience is lost when there is no human interaction. The concern brands tend to have is that the experience becomes purely transactional. This could not be further from the truth. On the contrary, when a brand creates an effortless, personalized digital experience, the customer has been shown to be far more loyal to the brand. A retailer’s digital channels should take the opportunity to create meaningful content and product discovery experiences, as well as remembering the customer’s history to better understand what goals they have when coming to the brand’s digital storefront.

4. Advanced Customer Experience Technology Is Becoming More Accessible

The democratization of technology has accelerated within the past few years, and what used to take an army of data scientists to implement is becoming increasingly accessible for small to midsized retailers. Software solutions like chatbots enhanced with machine learning and AI-powered content recommendation systems are no longer limited to the Amazons of the world. As time moves forward, retailers of all sizes will wield the tech that helps them create highly personalized digital experiences that support their contactless strategy. Within the next two years, we will see the evolution of the lower end of the market gaining access to the more sophisticated tools and flexibility that create unique experiences to their unique customers.

5. The Time for Brands to Adapt Is Now

The market is rapidly changing, and brands that can’t keep up will be left behind. Brands need to think critically about the value of investing in connected, digital experiences. Even as storefronts gradually open again, the hybrid customer is now a permanent fixture. Brands must keep them in mind and retain the lessons learned in the move to (mostly) contactless commerce. This means thinking bigger about what contactless commerce can encompass.

These are just a handful of the insights discussed on the podcast. Listen to the full episode to hear all of Garrett’s in-depth insights on why small retailers can get in on software solutions like Lucidworks to meet the demands of their customers.

If you are interested in how Lucidworks can be your brand’s key to creating impactful contactless commerce experiences, get in touch with us.

About Dev Bhat

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