Those of us who can still remember old fashioned cash registers in shops and Green Shield stamps are reeling at the pace at which in store technology is marching forward. If you are wondering what Green Shield stamps were then Let me enlighten you. These little green stamps were an early form of reward points for shoppers. You were awarded the stamps for purchases made and collected them in books. The stamps could then be redeemed for free gifts and discounts. Just like today’s loyalty cards really only a lot more fiddly.
Green Shield Stamps weren’t so helpful to retailers either as, unlike loyalty cards, they could not be used to generate information about our shopping habits. Loyalty cards are clearly much better for all concerned but you need to carry so many of the things if you want to take advantage of all the schemes on offer. But all this is about to change as is the way we pay for things in shops.
If you are feeling nostalgic about Green Shield Stamps then you are old enough to remember when cash registers had buttons to ring up prices. These tills have been superseded by EPoS (electronic point of sale) systems. The bar codes on items are simply scanned and the systems bring up the prices and deduct the items from stock. These systems also enable even small independent retailers to trade both online and in store with ease. Technology, however, is marching on and soon even electronic tills may be largely redundant because of Near Field Communication (NFC).
NFC basically turns your smartphone into your wallet. Via services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Amiibo you have the ability to perform contactless payments with your phone. NFC is a method of wireless data transfer that detects nearby technology and enables it without the need for an internet connection. It is simple technology which evolved from radio frequency identification (RFID). The consumer is identified by their device and their bank accounts are accessed and debited.
NFC chips could soon be used to replace all of your payment and loyalty cards. Your smartphone could be all you need to buy anything, anywhere and to collect those all-important points. You will probably also soon be using your phone to scan the items in the shop and quite possibly to order them, pay for them and then have them bought to you. You won’t have to go near a till at all.
In some shops, notably Apple stores, staff are already out from behind the counter and taking payments on mobile devices. iPhone users with Apple Pay can already perform a tap and go transaction in store. They simply pick up what they what from the shelves, pay on their phone and leave. Where early adopters go the rest will surely follow and so it is only a matter of time before most retailers will offer the same service and all smartphones will be able to make use of it.
We may be shopping more online and that is another evolving story, but when we do visit bricks and mortar shops, the way we purchase goods is soon to change forever.
Article by Sally Stacey