August 1, 2019
Retailers in the UK and Europe face fierce competition for customers' time and money. Those leading the pack are adopting technologies built to increase customer satisfaction through improved operational efficiency. In this blog, we'll explore the top tech priorities for UK retailers and delve into how these technologies create winning in-store experiences that keep customers coming back for more.
Supermarkets are continually investigating ways to make in-store experiences as seamless as possible for shoppers. For example, in late 2018 Amazon pioneered the first truly check-out free experience when it launched its Go concept. These stores use a combination of sensors and AI algorithms to track and automatically bill shoppers for the items they selected as they leave, creating the first-ever ‘just walk out’ experience. This experience is acting as a challenger to more traditional grocer brands, pushing them to make their checkout processes as seamless as possible. In the future, we would expect long lines at the registers to be a thing of the past.
Already taking inspiration from this innovation is UK grocer Sainsbury’s. It recently trialed its own version of the experience which required users to use their smartphones to scan items as they shopped. While not as seamless (yet!) as Amazon’s solution, the Sainsbury’s SmartShop app does make it easier for people that want to avoid having to queue at checkouts during busy periods. Making the experience of shopping even quicker and more convenient, especially in smaller local stores.
Among the high-tech revolutions, there are some relatively low-tech ones making their mark on the shopper experience too. For example, Bluetooth technology has been adapted to enable the delivery of personalised offers to a shopper’s mobile phone. This operates through the use of beacons, low powered modules which are positioned around a store. Once a shopper approaches one it can ping an offer directly to their phone, or help them navigate towards specific items. This gives people a reason to visit the store, rather than shopping online, as the physical beacons enable retailers to offer exclusive discounts to those choosing to visit a brick and mortar location. In the States, Target implemented this technology, giving shoppers the opportunity to use their smartphones as navigation systems on their carts – helping them find what they needed much quicker, a big help in larger stores!
Great service, from a customer’s point of view, is underpinned by very simple experience deliverables: satisfaction and service. In order to deliver both, retailers need to reduce the risk of out of stocks, especially when seasonal demands put pressure on inventories.
In the US, Walmart has implemented Bossa Nova’s own technology to help manage its stock. Through a system that combines robotics and AI, Bossa Nova’s robots can spot when a store is running low on items much faster than was previously possible with human associates alone. The technology then feeds this data back along the supply chain, which enhances the accuracy and speed of reordering and replenishment in store. By turning stock auditing tasks over to the robot, store associates can be made available to help with customer inquiries.
Ultimately, what shoppers want when visiting supermarkets is very simple, but delivering those experiences at scale in a competitive market place requires a lot of investment. Retailers that recognise this and opt for technological solutions that benefit their shoppers within store environments will be the ones that win out over the rest.