Curbside Pickup, Contactless Pay, Expansion of QR Codes at Retail – WWD

As President of Adyen in North America, Brian Dammeir is focused on delivering the company’s global payments solution to major retail, technology, platform and hotel companies – including McDonald’s, Uber, Spotify, Postmates and Gap. He oversees all North American activities, including sales, account management, marketing and product development. Brian previously led product strategy as Adyen’s Product Director and has extensive experience in APAC, Europe and the Americas.

Before joining Adyen in 2015, Dammeir improved his attitude towards products through previous positions at Airbnb and Google. Here, Dammeir shares insights into consumer preferences that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic and what trends are likely to persist over the next five years.

WWD: How has COVID-19 changed consumer preferences? What are they looking for in terms of the overall shopping experience?

Brian Dammeir: COVID-19 has shown that consumers are eager to continue shopping from their favorite brands even when unable to visit stores. Important and perhaps for the first time to a significant extent are groups of people who have previously only made purchases in stores. This had four main effects:

1. A group of previously reluctant online shoppers have welcomed the convenience and flexibility of e-commerce and alternative channels such as roadside collection. While many of these shoppers will revert to their previous behavior after the pandemic, we expect many of them to keep at least some of their online shopping.

2. For this reason, e-commerce-only providers, ranging from marketplaces to direct-to-consumer brands, are seeing significant increases in transaction volume as consumers postpone shopping online while traditional stores are constrained.

3. Traditional retailers don’t stand idly by. Retailers with an in-store presence that have built ecommerce capabilities in the past few years see less of an impact than brands that haven’t, while retailers that previously lagged in digital transformation are catching up in 2021. Consumers Still Are The more retailers use digital channels, the less impact they see on COVID-19.

4. Roadside delivery and pick-up solutions, especially when it comes to groceries and groceries, but increasingly in retail, are showing greater engagement outside of the traditional millennial city demographics of these channels. This will have a long-term impact on the retail landscape as many consumers will stick to these shopping methods as they become used to their convenience.

WWD: And what are they asking for in terms of payment options?

BD: The biggest trend with COVID-19 is to make the shopping experience as “touchless” or “contactless” as possible. From ordering, to customer-employee interaction, to payments, the focus is on bringing social distancing to as much of the customer journey as possible in order to meet that demand. Some more common methods are touchless payment options, including:

1. Contactless NFC technology, mainly powered by contactless chip-enabled credit and debit cards. Interest in these methods has increased significantly during the pandemic. Before COVID-19, contactless activation lagged behind that in other countries, especially in the USA. Now banks, consumers and merchants are interested in tap-and-go payments.

2. Mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, which use many of the same technologies as NFC card-based payments and offer a touchless “tap to pay” experience, are also enjoying wide acceptance.

3. Advance booking with roadside pickup has become a must. In particular, retailers with seamless in-app ordering experiences are enjoying enormous consumer acceptance.

4. QR codes, both as a payment method and as a check-out flow, that consumers can use to check out on their phone even though they are in a store or restaurant.

It has become clear that even during the pandemic, consumers still want to interact with their favorite brands. Merchants who have been able to provide alternative channels and payment methods are finding that a significant portion of their lost revenue is being made up for through these previously minority channels.

Brian Dammeir:
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We assume that this period has catapulted existing trends towards digital by at least five years. This really is a turning point in terms of how consumers expect to be able to buy and pay with brands.

WWD: How does Adyen meet these requirements?

BD: Adyen has been channel-independent from the start and has been a leader in the digital activation of retailers, but also in technologies such as contactless NFC, mobile wallets and QR codes. It is important that Adyen maintains a single platform for all of its merchants worldwide. So at the height of the pandemic, we were able to simply activate the features that merchants needed to meet their customers’ needs. This is in stark contrast to traditional payment providers, where merchants had to ramp up projects for months to activate features like contactless or e-commerce channels.

However, like our dealers, we had to work quickly to adapt. For example, we found that retailers had to present completely touchless cash flows in their stores. Since not all consumers have contactless cards or digital wallets, we developed a QR code solution for our merchants to present consumers with a payment that they can then make on their phone. Once developed, it was immediately available to all dealers on our platform.

After all, Adyen plays a central role in the digital transformation that retailers are carrying out in their own infrastructure. This introduction of “Unified Commerce” is about offering customers a consistent platform and experience regardless of the channel. COVID-19 urged retailers to adapt to consumers who are rapidly adopting new, largely digital channels overnight. Our focus now is on helping our merchants in this transformation, not only to adapt to COVID-19 and what it means now, but also to provide future evidence of future consumer changes that will be inevitable.

WWD: What do you expect for retail this year? What will change? What stays the same

BD: Last year has been a year of change – consumers and businesses have had to adapt to protect themselves, and the payments industry has been involved. Based on what I saw in 2020, I would predict three main retail trends for 2021.

1. Digital Channels Will Grow at Unprecedented Speed: While e-commerce and digital payments have generally seen growth over the past decade, 2020 has forced large numbers of consumers who were previously unwilling to interact with digital channels to do so. While many consumers will revert to their previous pre-pandemic behaviors, COVID-19 will have catapulted large groups of people into using digital services as their primary channels.

2. Contactless payments with “Tap to Pay” will gain in importance in the USA. The US has lagged behind other countries in adopting two key technologies: EMV chips, which protect your card details, and NFC contactless cards, which allow consumers to “tap to pay” with cards and digital wallets. Given the pandemic and hygiene concerns, a large number of consumers are being trained in how to use tap to pay cards. Not only is this more secure, but it also results in much faster transactions than dipping a card. Consumers like what they see and will demand “tap to pay” in the future.

3. QR codes are becoming mainstream in the west: QR codes have been the main method consumers use to pay in countries like China for years. The pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in the use of QR codes across the board as they allow consumers to use their own phone. Everything from restaurant menus to paying is done with QR codes. We’re even seeing the start of payment methods in the US like PayPal and Venmo, where QR codes are selected as a means of initiating payments, similar to what is happening in China today.

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