COVID-19 and the age of the contactless experience

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit hard across the world, consumers are putting a high price on health factors when interacting with organisations. To reduce the risk of infection, people are anxious to minimise physical contact and maximise contactless interactions, and companies are taking note.

Tesla, for example, offers a contactless car delivery scheme that minimises customer contact with the car maker’s employees. This trend raises a number of questions for organisations and their leaders. How can organisations redesign customer experiences to align with this contactless world?

Will the focus on touchless interactions persist beyond the pandemic? And how should organisations tackle consumer concerns about data security and privacy, given that a contactless experience demands increased rollout of technologies such as facial recognition?

To help answer these questions, CapGemini surveyed over 4,800 consumers and over 950 executives from 12 major economies: China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, India, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Brazil.

Retail store sales by categoryDrawing on that research, their research note focuses on four key consumer trends:

  1. Touchless interfaces have become integral to the customer experience in a health-and-safety conscious world.
  2. The pandemic is offering a unique opportunity to accelerate the use of voice-based interfaces in physical settings.
  3. The pandemic has caused an upsurge in the adoption of facial recognition technologies.
  4. Mobile-based contactless transactions, such as retailstore self-checkouts that use mobile apps, are gaining ground as consumers try to avoid any shared interfaces.

The pandemic is a major catalyst for touchless interface adoption: 77% of consumers expect to increase their use of touchless technologies to avoid interactions that require physical contact. And even when the pandemic is over, 62% expect to increase their use, demonstrating that this is a trend with longevity.

In some countries, there is a predicted waning of enthusiasm for contactless once the pandemic is behind us. However, this perhaps just reflects the difference between today’s heightened sense of anxiety and how consumers will behave in a world where health-and-safety concerns are more balanced against other needs.

The trend towards touchless interactions is reflected strongly in retail spending patterns over the course of the pandemic. Data from the US, for instance, shows that while consumer spending fell by a record 16.4% in April, online retailers saw an 8.4% increase in sales during the same period.

These shifts in spending highlight the need for organisations to recreate the experience and safety of online shopping within physical settings, in order to draw customers in-store.

To read the full report Covid-19 and the age of the contactless customer experience

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