Applications of ultrasonic data transmission in retail environments are limitless. From improving existing technologies with sound to revolutionizing the way customers experience shopping from online to offline, retailers and brands have a lot to gain from the technology. Today we’re reviewing important use cases of ultrasonic tech in retail and the potential they have to completely change commerce across channels.


From self-checkout to roaming employees with checkout tablets, waiting in line for 20 minutes is no longer a requirement in retail stores. Regardless of where it happens, the checkout process has historically been a major point of friction, as 73% of shoppers say it is their top pain point when shopping in-store. What’s more, the PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index™ estimates that issues at checkout led to retail loses of $200 billion in 2017. In fact, 28% of abandoned cart customers cite complex or belabored checkout as the reason they gave up on their purchase. On top of this, counting out change, faulty credit card machines, or damaged cards all add to checkout complications. If retailers aim to improve wait time and ultimately customer satisfaction, retail payments need an overhaul.

When looking at new payment processes, there are a few important barriers. First, top shelf security is a must have for retailers. In an era of highly visible data breaches, poor security can be fatal to a retailer and cause significant PR and financial damage. Second, payment solutions can’t feel kludgy or haphazard. Customers want payment options that are presented simply. In the same Index above, PYMNTS found that retailers with the most seamless checkout processes also offered the most payment options, which drives consumer satisfaction. The highest retail performers offered 7.6 payment options, compared to 5.4 for the lowest performers.

MasterCard credit cards in a pocket.Lastly, cost savings are critical as retailers deal with razor thin margins. Kroger’s Foods Co. recently announced that they will no longer accept Visa cards due to the fees they charge. In an industry with fierce competition, any reputable opportunity to minimize costs must be explored.

As a solution to these issues and more, retailers and brands are turning to ultrasonic tech to facilitate frictionless and secure retail payments. Ultrasonic technology supports encrypted credit card numbers, potentially cutting down on card not present processing fees through second factor authentication in self service kiosks.

To reduce in-store friction, ultrasonic tech can help simplify the in-store wifi pairing process (giving retailers insight on how many shoppers are using their app in-store), as well as improving the self checkout process. As shoppers begin to expect a seamless checkout process (an extreme example is Amazon’s “just walk out” capability) ultrasonic tech has the ability to replace typical credit card swiping at existing self-checkout kiosks and replace that with a tone.

Inside stores and shopping centers, ultrasonic tech can also facilitate real-time promotions. After all, timeliness and context are key in retail merchandising. When shoppers get a promotion for a product in the same aisle while they have the retailer app open, this can encourage additional purchases by targeting them at the perfect time and place.

Finally, applications go beyond the in-store shopping experience. Retailers can improve online payments, by using ultrasonic tech in a website to reduce fraud. Inaudible tones embedded into a website can authenticate users, making second factor authentication possible in the online experience.

Clicking a button that says "Security" on a computer screen.

Loyalty and Marketing

Once shoppers make that first purchase, the goal is to get them to return. This is often accomplished with loyalty programs tied in with remarketing campaigns. But “I forgot my loyalty card” and “I can’t remember what phone number I used for my account” are common issues at checkout. Shoppers want to be rewarded for their purchases and retailers want to keep tabs on what shoppers are buying to target them with the right products. Antiquated loyalty programs make this difficult to accomplish.

Retailers and brands need a way to identify their loyal customers every time they step into a store or click over to the website. Having this capability allows for a complete view of the customer; what they buy, what they browse, what offers they respond to, and which ones might be worth testing.

With multiple shopping channels available, many shoppers are using whichever channel is most convenient for them at any given moment in time. This doesn’t have to create a distorted picture of their preferences or behavior. Instead, using ultrasonic tech to gain an understanding of when shoppers are in-store, what they browse online, and what they buy across channels can be combined to gain a full picture of their customer profile to push the right offers at the right time.

Closing Thoughts

As shoppers increasingly check out online and their in-store preferences shift, retailers and brands need to be able to keep up and provide a personalized shopping experience. To make room for growth across a retail business, the time is now for implementing solutions like ultrasonic tech.  

Want to learn more about how to improve payments, loyalty, and marketing efforts in retail? Get in touch to connect with our team to explore how ultrasonic tech can help your business.

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