Merchants Weigh Fewer Cashiers, More Curbside Pickup Post-Covid

Coming soon to a store near you: fewer cashiers and more futuristic checkout options.

More than three-quarters of top executives at merchants in the food and beverage, retail and hotel industries said the pandemic has forced them to focus on their digital platforms, according to a survey released Wednesday by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the payments provider FreedomPay. That includes a rapid shift from legacy systems to things like touchless checkout.

“We’re continuing to see all types of payment methods coming to life and I think there’ll be more and more innovation in that way,” Molly Walsh, head of product for merchant services at JPMorgan, said in an interview. “We’re thinking about ways to enhance our existing mobile checkout and cashier-less type payment methods.”

The pandemic sparked nationwide closures as people and governments sought to stem the spread of the deadly virus -- pushing transactions from clothing to groceries even more online than they were before. Now, as vaccines abound in the U.S., consumers are getting back to in-person, forcing retailers to rethink their payment options.

The two firms interviewed 50 executives before and during the pandemic. More than two-thirds of them sought to create new operational models and customer touch points to keep their businesses alive during lockdowns, the survey found.

“Do we shift more to buy online, pick up curbside? What are the tools that you need to meet consumers where they are now looking to pay and buy?” said Chris Kronenthal, president and chief technology officer of FreedomPay. “Those purchasing behaviors became much more important and that was part of the data that certainly our merchants are looking for.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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