Recently, I had an interesting chat with social and digital influencer Evan Kirstel about the digital impact of COVID-19 and its effects on a variety of industries. It is, perhaps, no exaggeration to say that the current pandemic is deeply changing society. It is altering the way we live, work, socialize and even pay. The impact of the pandemic is being felt across all industries too. We are seeing two-star Michelin restaurants offering home delivery and bus companies offering their fleet to supermarkets struggling to deliver to those in isolation.
The social distancing regulations in effect across the globe have, of course, had a large impact on retailers. Apart from grocery shops and pharmacies, most stores have been forced to close their doors. Therefore, any business that falls outside of this has had to move to a purely e-commerce model in order to survive.
There is no doubt that the current pandemic has been a catalyst for an accelerated digital transformation, the likes of which has never been seen before. One of the areas we have seen change the most because of the perceived infection risk is from the use of cash to contactless payments. In fact, certain retailers are reporting that they are now taking 60% more contactless transactions.
What is most interesting, though, is that consumer behavior is changing across all age groups. Now it is not just tech-savvy millennials shopping online, but people of all ages. And I don’t think those that have experienced the ease and convenience of online shopping will go back to exclusively traditional means once the social distancing measures are lifted.
Wirecard is helping businesses of all sizes and industries stay relevant. Firstly, we have put together a Merchant Support Package, to provide help to merchants who are needing to morph to keep their businesses running. It offers contactless payment terminals, bespoke digital payment services such as pay-by-link and the ability to quickly get a shop online. This package is part of a bigger initiative: Innovation for Now, which was launched in collaboration with Futur/IO. This initiative bundles together offerings from leading companies like SAP, VMware and Wirecard, and makes them easily accessible to retailers affected by COVID-19.
In the post COVID-19 world, I predict that the adoption of alternative digital payments and currencies will accelerate as more and more people realize their value. Also, whilst customers will be physically distancing, retailers will need to be more consumer-centric and understand their needs better than ever before to compete. There will also likely be an acceleration in the use of those wider technologies that create social distance – such as delivery by drones.
This is the first time we have seen such a widespread digital transformation happen at the same time worldwide. I truly believe that how we shop has irreversibly changed. As consumers increasingly welcome online experiences, digital transformation has become vital for businesses. However, it is particularly so for small merchants that simply don’t have the cash reserves to survive unless they can quickly pivot. At Wirecard we are well positioned to help, and pride ourselves in being an important cog in driving innovation worldwide. To listen to my discussion with Evan in full, please click here.