The financial impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak have been felt throughout retail, with store and shopping center closures alongside feverish efforts to ramp up delivery and replenish the supply chain. Facing concerns that retailers won’t be able to deliver a top-notch customer experience in this environment, many of the industry’s technology and solution providers have reduced or waived fees for access to their services and platforms.
Following are some of the steps these solution providers have taken to ease retailers’ and consumers’ worries across different areas of concern, including home delivery, communication across stores/channels, social distancing and potential payment fees.
Logistics Platforms Tackle Home Delivery Assistance
With grocers, pharmacies, restaurants and liquor stores all seeing major spikes in demand for home-delivery requests, logistics companies are opening their services to ease the delivery experience, especially for those who are vulnerable to the virus.
Bringoz, a SaaS-based logistics platform, is offering retailers its expertise and technology platform free of charge to help scale their in-house delivery operations. The proprietary technology is designed to optimize routes, batch deliveries, automate dispatching, reduce risk and give real-time visibility into the delivery process.
InVastor Inc., an app designed to help local businesses and individuals pick up and deliver goods on the same day, revealed that that it will start offering free delivery services to those who are being affected heavily from the COVID-19 outbreak, including the sick, elderly, children and people in rough financial conditions, so that they can get essentials such as medicine, groceries and toiletries.
Apps Foster Cross-Channel Communication Amid Store Crowds, Closures
As essential stores deal with hordes of traffic and non-essential stores continue to shutter, retailers still need ways to communicate with their employees, whether that’s from headquarters to individual stores or from store managers to associates.
Foko Retail is offering its communication module for free to retail teams for internal use for the next 12months, enabling district, regional or store managers to stay connected to store teams without having to travel.
Retail Zipline unveiled a COVID-19 Hub within its communications platform. It’s designed to streamline all the mission-critical messages and resources a retailer should need to communicate with teams, including: store protocols, health and safety tips, best practices, training documents and crisis communications tips, in-store tasks assignments and direct messaging.
Mobile Checkout App Promotes Social Distancing
Essential retailers that are dealing with packed aisles and checkout lines are likely worrying about COVID-19 spreading, with some such as Best Buy taking drastic measures to put social distancing into place.
To help reduce stress on these essential retailers and communities nationwide, FutureProof Retail (FPR) is donating its Mobile Checkout Solution to grocery stores, pharmacies and supermarkets free of charge. Created and powered by FPR, Mobile Checkout is helping shoppers practice social distancing and avoid standing in lines while enabling them to get the food supplies they need.
Payments Platforms Waive Fees As Money Gets Tight
Payments are a major concern of retailers, especially smaller businesses that have to worry about a larger portion of their revenue going to fees and other charges. As stores close or limit shoppers, retailers and restaurants alike may have concerns about how to handle certain payment deadlines, but select payment providers are looking to alleviate the stress these businesses may incur by eliminating extra fees.
Shift4 Payments, an integrated payment processing solution provider, is waiving fees for its SkyTab mobile ordering and pay-at-the-table solution until June 17. Waived fees cover online ordering, monthly data, hardware costs and gift card fees.
Electronic Payments, a payment and POS tech provider, will waive fees and monthly support costs for its ExoTouch and TableTurn and their related AppMarket fees to assist SMBs through the end of May. By waiving these costs, Electronic Payments provides savings that empower merchants to respond more readily to market fluctuations, additional business expenditures and potential cash flow reductions over the coming months.
SAS Offers Data Visualization Tool To Monitor COVID-19 Cases
SAS, which typically delivers analytics and BI software to retailers and other businesses, has created a visually rich report for all users, depicting the status, location, spread and trend analysis of COVID-19 and created using tools from SAS Visual Analytics. Data from organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updated daily. A dashboard provides an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic, but viewers can drill down to see the impact over time as well as country-specific data.
Platform Providers Across Pricing, Product Decision-Making Offer Free Services
Beyond some of the major areas retail is struggling with during the COVID-19 pandemic, solution providers in pricing, B2B product cataloging and individual store assortment are offering advice and recommendations.
RevTrax, an offer management platform provider designed to assist retailers in pricing strategies, will offer its data services at no charge to both current clients, effective immediately, as well as to any brands that are in need of help staying afloat, for 60 days.
NuORDER, a B2B wholesale e-Commerce platform, is offering a complimentary version of its Digital Catalog for brands and retailers, which is designed to digitize the entire market-to-order process by enabled users to make product selections, create product catalogs and linesheets and finalize assortments.
For stores that are staying open during the pandemic, MYSTORE-E is offering its Decision Making and Implementations platform for free “until this crisis passes.” The mobile-driven AI-based tool is designed to leverage localized store data, to ensure each store delivers the most relevant products and messages to its customers.