Return on Experience (ROX) in the Connected Store
Retailers are making progress by integrating new technologies throughout their brick-and-mortar ecosystem geared toward enhancing the customer experience, driving operational efficiency, and improving the use of human capital.
The Rise of Multiple Technologies in Connected Spaces
When Amazon introduced its first Amazon Go cashierless store in 2018, the camera-laden retail grocer represented the most connected store to date, using technology and infrastructure to give shoppers the most advanced and automated shopping experience on the market. However, Amazon is not the only company investing in connected store technology in a variety of ways to increase the convenience and ease of shopping.
Beacon technology has been used to allow retailers to send targeted and helpful messages to customers using Bluetooth signals and track consumer trends and traffic. Smart Digital signage is replacing standard printed designs and offering a more comprehensive range of informational and interactive content aimed at enhancing the shopping experience. Virtual reality technology provides virtual “try-outs” of merchandise, allows shoppers to customize products before purchase, and helps retailers optimize floor plans by letting them visualize store layouts and design. Artificial intelligence is also making its way into the retail space by streamlining inventory systems and improving automated and personalized customer service. Retailers are even exploring how to utilize voice recognition technology to enhance consumer experiences and increase sales.
Payments Made Easy
These days, digital banking, self-checkout stations, and various mobile payment like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and EMV are commonplace. Progressive retailers are now searching for new ways to reduce friction and frustration in the checkout process that can drive transaction velocity and brand loyalty. Convenient innovations like roving cashiers with mobile checkout devices, wearable payments, contactless cards, and even facial recognition payment methods are poised to change how customers navigate the retail space.
Increased Operational Efficiency
Connected stores can also improve operational efficiency, lower costs, and increase visibility across a portfolio of locations. Robots are being employed in warehouses and sales floors to perform tasks that free up team members for customer interactions. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can automate human labor, improve inventory and supply chain management, and produce powerful data-driven insights for cross-functional marketing, R&D, and eCommerce teams to inspire future innovation. Blockchain technology offers a way for retailers to improve the return process and prevent fraud. Mobile-enabled technology is also helping retailers motivate and connect with their workers using online training materials, audits, and inspections.
The Human Element
Despite the myriad new technologies being introduced in the retail space, research shows that human employees will continue to play a vital role across retail channels. But the way human labor is used will change, shifting away from mundane tasks that can be automated towards meaningful human interactions and areas that utilize human creativity, imagination, problem-solving, and strategy. This combination of technological efficiency and human connection will drive the changing retail market for years to come.