Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
No matter what the industry, whenever one implements a new tactic or strategy, there will always be challenges in place before an organization can get a hang of the adoption. Retail environments are constantly evolving in an attempt to improve their offerings and services while targeting products to their customer base. The digital disruption definitely impacted grocery stores large and small, and with the latter grouping, they were ultimately forced to adapt or disappear amongst shoppers of today’s age. Physical stores are already integrating digital shelving technologies that work to provide real-time information to eager shoppers everywhere, also keeping them engaged in the advances of their new favorite store. The same old grocery store that shoppers visited week after week will shortly be transformed into a technological marvel of tomorrow, modernizing features and offering simplified options for their most loyal supporters.
How do Smart Shelves Work?
Smart shelving units alert available retail associates when the inventory of a particular item has gotten increasingly lower to cut out the sight of ghostly shelving space, and to always grant customers with the option to rifle through a stocked selection. Such updates are sent and received in real-time, based on the weight of what’s being stored on the shelf, so fret not about delays in communication or empty aisles. Smarter retail solutions help to pave the way for additional bouts of opportunity for software companies and other stakeholders involved in the algorithm. In many cases, retailers don’t always have the staff large enough to assign associates to post up at every aisle and monitor when stock becomes low, so the point of employing sensors and RFID tags as an employee of sorts, goes a long way.
Another smart shelving element highlights the point of utilizing RFID tags to track the purchase of items through the form of both antennas and wireless readers. All three of these add-ons can help to track the whereabouts of products and devices, delivering this data directly to retailers so that they can receive additional insights into trending marketing strategies and hot spots. Some additional benefits of such real-time solutions include the following takeaways:
- An established system for alerting employees when a product may be expired or unpopular within customer base for marketing purposes
- Insights into the overall store performance and needs of the shoppers who patronize said store
- The foundation of location-based services to assist the integration of promotions and sales events throughout the location
Moving Throughout the Store
Moving on over to the checkout experience, and just consumer experiences, Subject Matter Experts have found a tilt towards retailers embracing “frictionless” experiences. What defines a frictionless experience, one might ponder? This level of experience incorporates the usage of heightened vision-based sensors and AI to level up the retail game. In a perfect scenario, frictionless interactions can encourage a shopper to locate a product, remove it from its location and from there the shelf (using computer vision) will know and understand that the item has been removed from its original spot and add that item to the customer’s virtual checkout cart on their mobile device.
Amazon’s brick-and-mortar locations (AmazonGo) have also begun to introduce similar shopping carts, that utilize RFID chips and tags, to scan when an item is added to the cart, allowing them to add that listed item to be purchased directly through their Amazon account. “Walk Out Shopping” as they like to refer to it, is their checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same technology patterns that fuel power into self-driving vehicles, including computer vision, sensor fusion, and even deep learning. Cutting out the queue line, once you complete your shopping trip, you can process the transaction from your “smart cart” and then exit the building, minimizing contact with others and cutting your shopping trip duration in half.
The march towards contactless/digital payments continues to surge forward as well, for according to studies conducted by Imar Intelligence, the most preferred forms of contactless shopping still rank in at curbside pickup (57%) and BOPIS (57%). The payment procedures that accompany these trends, boosts increased attention from shoppers and its success rate overall. With the past, almost two years of being confined to our homes many consumers are increasingly anxious to get back out there and shop in physical shops, so much has been added to increase the consumer experience including:
- Additional spaces for curbside pickup
- Wise digital way-finding signs collaborating with mobile app features
- More click-and-collect desks to separate in-store and omni-channel shoppers
- Multi-purpose lounges for shoppers to take breaks whilst shopping
Reinventing the Experience
While many SMEs will tell you that they know where the retail landscape is headed, the future is still unknown, so the key to survival is reinvention. To continue attracting consumers to one’s storefront location, the need for advanced technologies and integrations is essential. To maximize on both the physical and digital space is crucial when it comes to perfecting a retailer’s brand voice and goals.
A few months back, our very own TEConnect Podcast crew linked up with Elo’s Ruth Cooley to dive deeper into where Grocery stores are headed, seeing as though they were absolutely deemed an essential business throughout the duration of the pandemic. More specifically, the point of this episode worked in the idea that there is a lot to say when it comes to helping VARs prepare and position their sales pitch to grocers in a time so dire as this one. Elo in particular is helping to do that by providing all of the educational resources and software/hardware bundled solutions to get those resellers in front of the right people at the right time. Be sure to listen to Episode 73 of the TEConnect Podcast to hear from John and Dean and learn more on how Value-Added Resellers can continue to meet the need of their customers in a time that’s still so unknown and especially with the supply chain madness taking place right before the holiday season.