The first quarter of 2021 is seeing a rise in physical retail traffic since the huge drop at the beginning of the pandemic, but many people are staying away from brick and mortar stores. About 40% say* they would still prefer to shop in person, but they are looking for a contactless customer experience. Contactless payment methods are becoming more common, but what other areas still need work?

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The Brick and Mortar Advantage

It makes sense to extend the contactless experience beyond payment methods. After all, one thing that draws customers into a store is the chance to interact with the products on display. Handling the sample merchandise may be too risky, but at least shoppers can see and hear items like sound equipment and TVs.

How to Design for Touchless Controls

Electronics displays lend themselves to interaction. Interactive displays are much more likely to draw and keep a customer’s attention, and by extension, increase sales. But how can customers interact without contact?  Push-buttons and touchscreens may not be the best method given the concern for sanitation. You can use a long distance motion sensor to start a demonstration as shoppers approach it, but they won’t like accidentally setting off multiple presentations as they walk by. Smart interaction is a must for the best customer experience. That requires a degree of intentional control and nuance. The customer must be able to start, guide, and stop a presentation for the best experience.

The Sweet Spot

For more nuance, close-range (about 3 inches) proximity and gesture sensors may be used to create a control interface that is both intuitive and satisfying. (Learn about Ascentic touchless controls) In fact, most existing interactive systems can be retrofitted very easily. The AirSelect proximity sensor is designed to fit the same 19mm hole where the common push-buttons were mounted that were used to start music tracks, adjust volume, or switch speakers. Many displays can be updated to a touchless interface with no special tools or skills, by store personnel.

The New Normal

Bringing retail back will require adjustments to consumer behavior and also some new POP display design principles. Covid-19 is still a threat, and it may not be the last one we see. Consumers are already adapting their behavior to the new normal, finding ways to mitigate risks and still get what they need, in spite of the pandemic. Retailers and brands can help welcome concerned shoppers by adapting each interactive experience to a touchless one.

* “The Changing Tide of Retail CX” by Carlos Zapatero, Retail Customer Experience magazine.