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The Rise of Contactless Shopping: Merkle Debuts Products at CES 2022

January 12, 2022

For years, shoppers have had to make a choice. Decide to buy as you look at and touch a product or wait to read all there is to know about it online. Receive a box on your doorstep or get a full brand experience with a product in your hands at a store.

Consumers no longer want to pick one or the other. It shouldn’t be choosing the benefits of shopping in store or online. Why can’t these experiences come together?

Shoppers have told us this is what they want. In 2019, nearly 75% of US consumers researched products on a mobile device while shopping in a store, while worldwide adoption of smart packaging has grown by 83% since 2018.

These are massive changes in behaviors and expectations taking place over the past several years. And no event better showcases the innovation driving the world of marketing to meet those evolving consumer demands better than CES.

This year, Merkle was front and center on this topic with the launch of two new contactless shopping products bringing the best of both worlds to consumers at key points in their journey: Scan & KnowÔ and UnboxItÔ.

The patent-pending products leverage innovative digital technology and will be the newest additions to ShopNXT™ – Merkle’s collection of retail innovation products focused on helping brands create personalized shopping experiences and increasing loyalty and sales.

Know More In-Store

Online shopping has skyrocketed over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet consumers still desire the in-person element of shopping while incorporating the convenience and knowledge that digital channels provide. But limitations still exist. Seventy-eight percent of US smartphone users will not download an app to continue a transaction.

That’s why we developed Scan & Know to provide a personalized, connected, and contactless experience in-store that informs and drives decisions before the transaction is completed at a register. Shoppers using Scan & Know can scan any item in the store straight from their mobile device to instantly learn more about product details and prices, add items to wish lists and registries, and have products shipped direct to their door.

With no apps, queuing, or additional hardware, Scan & Know seamlessly integrates into existing websites, customer profiles, and loyalty programs, as well as with major ecommerce platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Commerce, BigCommerce, and Shopify.

While providing shoppers with everything they need to inform their decision is key, so is having this satisfaction manifest in business results. The major benefit for brands is that they can improve customer service, increase sales, and enhance customer loyalty without increasing staffing costs or investing in additional hardware.

Connecting at the Point of Arrival

Everyone focuses on the point of transaction, and rightfully so, but another instrumental moment in the customer journey comes when the buyer receive the product. Poor experiences – the package gets lost or the product is damaged – are powerful drivers of churn. But memorable experiences can rapidly increase growth in both engagement and spending. In fact, customers that feel emotionally connected to a brand will spend 150% more annually compared to regular, satisfied customers.

UnboxIt allows retail brands to instantly connect with shoppers upon arrival, increasing product registration ( has found that registration rate jumps 40% when using QR codes), community engagement, and customer satisfaction. Using their mobile device, consumers are quickly connected to instructions, content, and other customer support programs via a shopper-friendly QR code on the outside of their package.

UnboxIt instantly converts customers into advocates of their products right out of the box. The drag-and-drop, codeless technology enables retailers to update content in seconds, no matter when the product is sold or shipped, which eliminates the fear of sending out-of-date materials.

The obvious question, then, is what type of content should be leveraged when it comes to the product arrival? Three areas we focus on are:

1. Getting Started – Power up product-onboarding experiences ​

Help customers activate their onboarding experience with how-to videos, tips, tricks, and trends, along with customer-support information to create a seamless onboarding and after-care experience.​

2. Join the Club – Increase membership, loyalty, and subscriptions

Activate and launch loyalty programs, membership, or subscriptions upon arrival to increase brand loyalty and recurring revenue from the get-go.

3. Share the Love – Connect the power of community

Connect and reward customers for sharing their experiences with their community on social media and increase customer satisfaction through surprise-and-delight opportunities.

Embracing Our New Way of Shopping

The world is never going back to the way it was prior to 2020. Too much time has passed to revert back from the new behaviors that have been formed, and the incredibly quick advancements in shopping technology means consumers no longer have to settle for only the benefits – and drawbacks – of a single method of brand engagement. Empowering consumers to shop where, how, and when they want is only going to become more of a focal point in the years to come.

About the author

Val Vacante is the director of strategy, product innovation at global customer experience agency Merkle.


Product launch
Contactless, contactless payment
virtual assistance