Amazon recently launched Smart Stores in India, a program that allows retailers to create a digital storefront, offer contactless payment options and reward customers with Amazon Pay incentives.
Customers can scan the store's QR code via the Amazon app, find available products and purchase them using Amazon Pay, according to a press release from Amazon India. The customer then will receive a digital receipt.
Amazon also noted that "thousands of local shops" have signed up for Amazon Pay Smart Stores. The program is meant to drive additional customers to stores and allow local retailers to offer promotions to shoppers, per the company's sales page.
Amazon Pay's Smart Stores debut is a sign of the retail giant's interest in establishing local partnerships in India.
"Amazon Pay is already accepted at millions of local shops. We are trying to make customers' buying experience at local shops even more convenient and safe through Smart Stores," Amazon Pay CEO Mahendra Nerurkar said in a statement. "Through EMIs, bank offers and rewards, we seek to make these purchases more affordable and rewarding for customers, and help increase sales for merchants."
Safety in stores has been a growing concern for retailers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It has brought renewed attention to contactless payments as an alternative to cards and cash for retailers. Tech firms have responded accordingly. In March, Futureproof donated its line-free checkout technology to retailers so they could provide services while encouraging social distancing practices. In late May, Scandit, an enterprise-focused AR and mobile computer vision startup, raised $80 million in funding and said that demand for contactless mobile tech has grown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, retailers like David's Bridal and Walmart have introduced contactless payment features for customers. Amazon has been expanding its Amazon Go footprint and selling its cashierless technology to other retailers, enabling them to detect what goods customers have selected and charging shoppers as they leave. C-store 7-Eleven also tested out a cashierless tech store earlier this year.
The Smart Stores digital storefront model allows customers to read reviews and discover products while inside a store or virtually through the Amazon app, thereby allowing shoppers the option to socially distance themselves. The service may be important as new coronavirus cases in India surpass 500,000, according to Reuters.