By Elie Y. Katz
National Retail Solutions
As the new year proceeds, retailers are looking for ways to improve their customers' shopping experiences. A critical factor in this is finding ways to leverage technology and upgrade their stores to create personalized shopping experiences that better meet customer needs. To attract more customers, they must research how they can upgrade their stores, find the best point-of-sale systems, utilize delivery services, and become more environmentally conscious.
As the world changes, so does technology and how we interact with it. For instance, the point-of-sale system has constantly evolved since it was invented in 1879, when it was referred to as a "cash register," recording transactions with mechanical keys. It wasn’t until 1973 that the first computer-driven POS system was introduced to society. Back then, customers who used credit cards had a harder time paying when there was no microprocessor around, and they had to manually input their information.
With many consumers using credit cards to make purchases, the POS system and credit cards formed a convenient marriage. In 1984, McDonald’s started bringing in POS terminals and the first microprocessor cash register. On the right side of the microprocessor was a swipe slot for customers to swipe their cards when paying for the transaction; there was also a PIN pad where they could enter their card information.
Fast forward to the 1990s and 2000s, when the POS system evolved to become more than just an instrument for completing a sales transaction. POS systems shifted toward becoming cloud-based, transforming how users accessed their data. The data can now be accessed from any device connected to the cloud software.
Today, modern POS systems have integrated systems such as inventory management, camera integration, tobacco scan data, ID scanning for age verification, employee time clocks, customer tabs, ecommerce, loyalty programs, and so forth. These systems can be controlled from any device, anytime, anywhere. With technology continuing to advance, developers will create more programs to assist business owners in modernizing and improving their stores in the coming years.
In 2005, contactless credit card processing was introduced in the United States, which has changed how people shop in stores by providing a more secure and convenient way to pay for goods. Credit cards have surpassed cash as a preferred payment method, and it is predicted that by 2030, more than 1.25 billion people will be using credit cards (see https://wallethub.com/edu/cc/number-of-credit-cards/25532).
Since the pandemic, shopping online has become increasingly popular, and so have in-store contactless payments. Many people were weary of touching microprocessors and leaving their homes to shop. However, many people like using credit cards because of the convenience, the fact that they prevent fraud, and the discounts and perks associated with them. As a result, using credit cards as a form of payment is here to stay and will continue to be so in the future.
That is why many business owners are now purchasing a POS system compatible with a credit card reader to seamlessly take customer payments. Now, many POS systems accept more than just major credit card companies and accept EBT, EMV, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
This provides customers with more payment options and increases the likelihood of customer satisfaction, as they have more ways to complete a purchase. Businesses that accept credit cards online and in person can reach a larger consumer base, increasing their profit margins, which can help them in the long run.
Online food delivery also soared through the pandemic, and the market is expected to grow to $266.05 billion from 2023 to 2027 (see www.yahoo.com/now/global-online-demand-food-delivery-113300258.html).
Approximately 60 percent of customers prefer to order takeout rather than dine in; many customers find ordering online more convenient and love that they can get more discounts when ordering online.
Food delivery services like DoorDash, Instacart, Caviar, GrubHub and UberEats notify customers when their food is ready, picked up, and delivered to their door. These apps show when a customer receives their food, whereas there is no way to predict when they will receive their food in a restaurant. Customers no longer have to wait hours in restaurants for food, revolutionizing the food industry.
Business owners should take advantage of this opportunity and offer these services to customers. Offering these services can lead to more customers, a stronger online presence and higher revenue. Not only that, but doing so can be beneficial for people who do not have enough time to shop or are medically unable to go out to eat. These people can find the store from wherever they are, and who knows? They might become repeat customers.
When customers place their orders, it is best to use biodegradable or recyclable bags, utensils and straws. Many states are now making it illegal to use all plastic items. And regardless of where a business is located, it is always a good idea to follow state law. However, if no state laws govern where a business may be located, being more environmentally friendly has become trendy.
So encourage your merchants to inform customers about their commitment to being more environmentally conscious. Restaurant owners, for example, can purchase recyclable and biodegradable restaurant supplies that clearly state that they are environmentally friendly. When ringing up customers, give them the option of receiving their receipt via email or text rather than printing it.
To keep up with customer demand and remain competitive in the marketplace, store owners should strive to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to developing trends. That is why it is critical to constantly research what new retail trends are emerging each year.
Of course, useful trends will continue to be popular for many years to come, but store owners can always develop them further. It is possible that by expanding on these trends and using more creativity to promote a business, a company will look more successful than its competitors ever did. So, start researching, planning to help your merchant customers implement these trends and strategies today.
Elie Y. Katz is founder, president and CEO at National Retail Solutions (NRS), https://nrsplus.com. Contact him by phone at 201-715-5179 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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