Utilities, Grocery Stores, and Convenience Stores are Making In Person Payments Safer and More Convenient.
Technological Response to the Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic is prompting a widespread leap in technological innovation across the nation. America is growing accustom to delivery, curbside pickup, and comfortability with ecommerce. As markets experience these shifts, what are the implications for utility organizations? As lobbies across the country remain closed, consumers preferring to pay in person are forced to pay through alternative methods. Often, these consumers are unbanked or underbanked and rely on cash methods to make payments.
Kiosks Growing in Popularity
Inquiries and orders of bill pay kiosks continue increasing as 2020 progresses. Utilities are protecting staff and customers by implementing kiosks at their office(s) and retail locations. Similarly, grocers with money centers are moving to automated methods to limit over-the-counter transactions. Convenience stores are expanding the services they offer to customers by adding payment kiosks. Kiosks increase the availability and convenience of paying in-person while limiting face to face interactions.
What is the New Normal?
Two of the marquee industries falling under the “essential business” category are grocery and convenience store verticals. Americans are still making trips to pick up groceries for the week and as areas of the country implement reopening phases, the quarantine-crazed are getting out of the house. Grocery and c-stores are routine stops for the majority of Americans. Many utilities depend upon these locations as their primary in person pay locations. As grocers look to limit employee to customer interaction, self-service is being adopted across the country. Traditional over-the-counter bill pay is falling to the wayside as grocers are pivoting to self-serve payment kiosks. An added benefit to this shift is the reduction of labor tied to the already thin margins associated with traditional bill pay. Convenience stores are also adoption kiosks as a way to increase foot traffic. Tulsa based, U.S. Payments, partners with many C-store and grocery stores to host the PaySite® bill pay kiosk. Partners enjoy >1,200 incremental monthly door swings and serves as a safer option considering Covid-19.
What Have We Learned?
The spread of the virus is propelling industry changes to help keep people safe. Even if the virus fades in 2021, companies have established a safer environment for customers and employees. These changes have potential implications for seasonal flu and future novel viruses.