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Inside Retail & Westpac

Farewell cash, hello contactless: How retailers can keep up with consumers

(Source: Bigstock.)

Covid has been a rollercoaster for all businesses, particularly those in the hair and beauty industry. Salons have been forced to open and shut their doors at a moment’s notice, then have been scrambling to work out the next steps.

When New South Wales ended its last lockdown, Melanie De Sylva, founder of De Sylva Hair Design in Sydney, recalls how relieved her loyal clientele was to see her again – particularly when some had suffered the consequences of cutting or colouring their own hair.

“By the time we came out of lockdown, clients were desperate to see us!” she recalls. 

“We heard so many funny hair stories. Someone had cut their fringe a little too short, while other clients were YouTubing how to cut hair, but quickly realised it’s just not possible. Someone’s husband thought he was Vidal Sassoon and started layering the back of someone’s hair. It was hilarious. It just meant that we were much more wanted than before.”

De Sylva soon discovered that hairstyles were not the only thing to have changed coming out of lockdown. 

Covid has had a lasting impact on consumer behaviour and expectations of the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience have changed. While many relish the idea of human connection again and experiencing physical retail, there’s still some hesitation about the safety of in-store shopping. Most retailers have been quick to respond, with sanitisation units and social distancing floor decals the new norm in shops. 

The use of cash has also significantly reduced, with more customers opting for contactless payments.

“When I first started the business, 90 per cent of customers paid cash or cheque, but you never see a cheque book anymore. Hardly anyone used a credit card or Eftpos back then, whereas now it’s the complete reverse,” notes De Sylva. “Since Covid, some people have a reluctance to use cash. They all want to use their card. Covid has changed things.”

Even before the pandemic, customers were ditching cash. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Consumer Payments Survey, cash had reduced from 69 per cent of transactions in 2007 to 27 per cent in 2019. 

Contactless payments reduce administrative tasks for staff

The benefits of contactless payments go beyond offering customers a safer option. Thanks to the salon’s new Eftpos Now terminal, it also means De Sylva’s team can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time tending to the tresses of clients.

“In the old days, you used to have to fill out a deposit book then drive to the bank to deposit the money. Everything was so much more time consuming,” recalls De Sylva. 

“Now you can do it all at the salon without leaving the business, so you can then work on your rosters, stock control, promotions or look after your staff. You don’t need to spend that extra admin time because it’s already done for you!”

Quick and easy to use

While some older customers may be more accustomed to using cash, De Sylva has found that many customers have embraced the quick and easy nature of contactless payments.

“Customers are looking for quick, fast services that are easy to use and staff are looking for easy to use systems as well. It has changed a lot over the years. It’s reliable, it’s up-to-date technology with a fast touchscreen. It’s user friendly,” she says. 

“When it’s really busy in the salon, it’s just so easy to put the payment through and take the machine to the client, with the option to email receipts too. They don’t even have to get up out of their seats. It’s all under control before they actually get up and come to the front desks.” 

She added that implementing the Eftpos Now terminals was also a really smooth process for the business and the team were quick to get on board.

“It was super easy and when I had to ring up [Westpac] because I’d forgotten how to put a payment over the phone, the staff were super friendly and really helpful,” she says.

To find out more, visit: westpac.com.au/eftposnow