Published June 9, 2020
Prior to the pandemic, we relied on digital channels to stay connected with friends, family and colleagues. To pay our bills, order food and shop. To watch movies and listen to music. But despite this fluency in all things digital, the coronavirus has forced many of us to use digital in ever expanding (and sometimes unfamiliar) ways.
Kids went from learning in a classroom to a self-guided digital learning curriculum. Organizations shifted to accommodate a home-based workforce using real-time, digital collaboration tools. Telemedicine technologies have become instrumental in receiving medical care from the socially safe distance of our own homes. Food delivery platforms like Uber Eats and Postmates have become the lifeblood of restaurants. Roadie, Shipt, Instacart and others have provided a way for retailers to deliver essentials to our doors. And people are turning to digital banking channels to manage their money.
As digital experiences become the new normal, they’ll enhance some of the basic aspects of our lives. And as those norms give way to innovations, we’ll see ever new ways of doing business, and new opportunities for brands, products and services to lead with digital experiences—creating a digital-first mindset that will shape our lives.
For digital natives, navigating this pandemic has been fairly simple. They use the tools and frameworks they've always known and used, and continue to work, grow, socialize and do good for those around us in the same digital fashion. Even for those new to navigating the terrain, seeing digital used in new ways has introduced the value of innovation in some pretty straightforward ways.
As we watch and engage in digital banking experiences, it’s revealing a story—one that reiterates how innovations wrought in times of crisis can continue to serve people and drive value even when life returns to normal. Digital accounts are on the rise and driving ever higher engagement and satisfaction from customers. Using digital, they can easily and conveniently monitor spending and saving patterns, track against financial goals and keep a pulse of their overall financial health. This level of empowerment has existed in digital for a long time and now, as a result of this pandemic, more people are likely to continue appreciating the benefits long after the pandemic subsides.
Digital technologies can also facilitate connection. Users can participate in virtual appointments with bankers and other branch staff, limiting in-person contact while still providing the personal service customers need. Digital scheduling also helps with branch operations—management can prepare for coverage throughout the day and ensure branch representatives are available for their customers in the moments that matter.
Finally, payments likely will be another benefactor of the mass shift to digital. With the importance of contactless experiences, being able to use mobile payment apps gives customers a simple, touchless way to transact. Apple Pay and Google Pay allow users to hold their mobile devices within range of an NFC-enabled POS device for tap-and-go payments at merchants like Target, Walmart and Home Depot, reducing the amount of physical interaction with these devices.
Perhaps no industry has been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than hospitality. Restaurants and bars rely heavily on in-person patronage from new and return guests. And while this new way of life has prevented us from visiting our favorite restaurants, delivery partners have paved the way for us to stay connected and engage.
In 2018, nearly 67% of adults reported that they hardly ever or never ordered delivery food services (Statista). Now, many people are using these services for the first time. This has created new opportunities for restaurants to innovate their online ordering experiences or add new ones like mobile apps, chatbot ordering or mobile pay-at-table when reopening—and for their users to try these channels to support restaurants and bars from the comfort of their home.
Delivery services have implemented new measures in order to help with the overall financial impact that people are facing. They’ve temporarily waived delivery fees for the short term, and for the long term, they've updated their apps to support higher volumes, accommodate new preferences (e.g., drop off locations to limit in-person contact), and enable new ways to communicate with drivers and users.
Retail is another hard-hit industry. Grocery stores and big box retailers have reduced operating hours, limited their inventory, created new ways of maintaining social distance in stores and even temporarily closed store locations. Similar to the hospitality industry, retailers are leaning on online ordering, delivery and buy-online-pickup-in-store or at the curb. With solutions like Shipt, InstaCart, Roadie and even some of their own in-house services, retailers are able to continue serving their customers while upgrading their digital game.
Innovations around collaboration services, virtual appointments, increased online capabilities and analyzing consumers’ digital behavior are becoming vital to brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers are offering mobile apps that display availability and location of a product in the store—while streamlining the in-store shopping experience itself. Enabling consumers to shop the aisles virtually while limiting operations, for example, creates increased upsell opportunities for the retailer and greater speed, convenience and control for the shopper.
Digital is one of the most valuable commodities we have today. While the uptake on digital has not always been high, depending on its platform, more and more people are realizing and experiencing the value it brings to their lives.
It connects people that are oceans apart. It allows us to manage our finances. It provides a way for us to put food on our tables and find essentials. All from the palms of your hand, without ever having to leave home. That’s because, crucially, digital enable the moments that matter most, no matter where they happen, and that’s important more than ever right now.
Find out more about how NCR is helping businesses become digital first.