Going Touchless

Going Touchless 1920 1280 Chute Gerdeman

Consumers have heightened awareness about their shopping environments and how safe they are at every touchpoint. As a result, brands are doubling down on touch-free experiences.

Mobile Connectivity

QSR, fast-casual restaurant and grocery segments, have shifted to mobile-only ordering and pick-up/delivery. Northeastern grocer, Fairway Market, launched mobile scan and pay through their app and has seen a 300% increase in users. Focusing on the mobile offer and the seamless service consumers receive, mobile ordering will continue to increase. As consumers have become more accustomed to this socially distanced transaction model, it will become a preferred form of purchasing for some. Brands will need to establish a more substantial technology offer to meet these new consumer expectations and enhance their mobile and digital service touchpoints.

Drive-thru Business

With brands like Starbucks considering drive-thru only, we see the strong potential for this becoming a desirable operation method for businesses and a preferred method of engagement for consumers.

For years, brands have been asking the question, “How do you make the drive-thru interesting? How do you make it a real experience?” With the added pressure to attract and maintain brand loyalty, we see an opportunity for brands to engage in new ways for those customers that choose to shop from their cars.

Thought starters that might spark a creative idea for your business:

  • Think about entertainment and brand dialogue while consumers are waiting in the drive-thru queue. Create a unique and engaging experience—rethink the norm.
  • If your drive-thru is adjacent to your building, there’s likely an untapped canvas for messaging to connect to your shopper. Use that valuable real estate to communicate with your shopper while they patiently wait their turn.
  • Add-ons and plus-ups are perfect for that drive-thru experience and help with sales lift. Incorporate a grab-and-go option right in the drive-thru.
  • Airports have cell phone waiting lots. What’s happening in your parking lot? Is it a sea of concrete? Perhaps consider making it into an oasis for waiting. Landscaping, lighting, and hospitality treat the parking lot as the lobby into your experience.
  • What’s old is new again. Sonic and other “retro” brands have maintained a drive-in business for years. Can your brand capitalize on an in-car hang space for your guest?
  • Fuel your customers’ use of your mobile app and mobile web destinations by utilizing gaming technology and AI to unlock new rewards and activities during each visit.
  • Combine your product delivery with another service that satisfies and delights your shopper while they wait. Maybe a quick, touchless car wash shows up in your drive-thru lane, or you partner with a local brand to deliver their product in a safe environment.
  • Enable pre-shopping through digital and mobile channels and offer sampling, cross-sells, and upsells based on the products that your consumers are ordering/shopping.

And if your shoppers don’t have a car? Consider “walk-up” and “walk-thru” experiences for that pedestrian shopper, especially in urban centers. While you can’t deliver the complete experience, you can still provide a window into your brand and a valuable service.

Self-serve equates to self-care. Various contactless self-service technologies have been adopted around the world, including face mask vending machines, hot meal vending containers, and self-service pick-up lockers for takeout.

– Retail Customer Experience


What is unlikely to subside is the current penchant for cleanliness, experts say. A whopping 87% of U.S. shoppers prefer to shop in stores with “touchless or robust self-checkout options,” for example, while more than two-thirds are using some form of self-checkout.

-Retail Dive

In-Store Experience

Bye-bye, unsanitary kiosks! Even before the pandemic, restaurants have been getting flack for their use (and the cleanliness of) in-store kiosks. Yes, consumers like the convenience of ordering efficiency and not having to wait in line. Still, fears of what lies on the kiosk have grown—especially with unsettling reports of bacteria found in some of the largest restaurant chains in the world. As cleanliness becomes a top priority, hands-free ordering direct from a human or through a personal mobile device will be the preferred form of interaction.

Consumers will return to social environments to share in conversation and human connection but choose settings that have adopted their new habitual preferences. Looking for spaces that are not confined and brands that communicate their cleanliness practices will be imperative. Early winners in the return to retail will show that they’ve positioned sanitation practices as a high priority.

Thought starters that might spark a creative idea for your business:

  • Conduct team training to communicate messaging around cleanliness. Most brands have internal standards, but now it’s time for them to be clear to the consumer. Through digital training tools, you can gamify the process to effectively train employees on the best way to create a safe and healthy environment and communicate those practices to their patrons and shoppers.
  • Implement sanitary stations and out-of-bathroom hand washing options. Showing support for cleanliness habits will only build trust with worrisome consumers.
  • Consider new product packaging and containers that require fewer touches and less handling. Your shopper will appreciate it when they unpack their order at home.

“In these unprecedented times, we recognize the need to make our customers trips to the stores faster and more efficient,” Todd Jones, CEO of Publix, said in the release. “By expediting this [contactless] payment option, we will help customers reduce contact with commonly used surfaces like PIN pads.”

– Retail Customer Experience

More from the Preparing for Next series

Bookable Experiences

With businesses shuttered across the country, extraneous spending being curbed, and personal services being postponed due to stay-at-home orders, “access” could take on a whole new meaning as we start to emerge from the crisis and get back to business.

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