Technology is a disruptor for every industry and retail is no exception. To be competitive these days, retailers have to have an excellent online and in store offer for a number of reasons. One of the key reasons being customers switch channels to suit their own needs, so retailers have to be able to accommodate this.
A key game changer is the rapid move to automation that will see the end to the role of cashiers (the person scanning your product and taking your payment). There has been a big move to automate this process via self-serve, supermarkets have done this and Amazon Go was the first to introduce zero human interaction on in store purchases. Customers enter the store by tapping in using their phone, they pick the products they want, which are instantly charged to their Amazon account and walk out. No queues to wait in or cashier to scan and take your payment. Fast and simple.
This technology is slowly rolling out here in Australia with Woolies and 7-Eleven trialing in some stores. Expect to see a lot more of this technology rolling out over the next few years.
We have already seen the rise of in home personal artificial intelligence (AI) assistants, be it either Amazon’s Alexa, Google assistant or Apple’s Siri. Once again there will only be a continued rapid uptake of this technology as it gets better and better as well as less expensive.
With all that is happening with AI, it won’t be too far away where any products we show interest in will be presented to us on our smartphone, we select what we want and head to the store to pick them up. Via facial recognition or other intelligence, a machine will recognize us and hand over our products, all in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile our account has already been charged.
One area where retailers have been slow is adopting personal hand-held devices for sales assistants. Only a few retailers have invested in this technology yet all the research points to this as being extremely helpful to sales assistants to be able to instantly check on stock, pricing and product information while they interact with customers. Customers also found this technology very helpful in getting answers instantly, without having to wait.
There is no end in sight for technology innovations, retailers have to quickly climb on board or run the very real risk of being left well behind.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.