What is Automated Retail?: A Simple Guide to The Future of Retail
A few years ago the idea of walking out of a store without pausing at the check out point to pay for your purchases would have sounded crazy. Now, cashier-less stores are commonplace in the retail industry. According to Capgemini, 21% of stores across North America, Europe, and Asia are automated and the numbers are expected to rise to 36% by 2022.
Retail is changing.
Here's a simple guide to help you understand how automated retail works and how it can benefit your business.
What is automated retail?
Automated retail is the process of using technology to sell consumer goods and services in a fast and efficient way with minimal to zero human interaction. A great example of automated retail is Amazon Go. This is Amazon’s brick and mortar retail store that allows shoppers to select the items they wish to purchase, place them in their shopping bag, and simply walk out.
The items are charged automatically via your Amazon account. You don't have to wait in lines and there are no checkouts. Amazon calls this entire customer journey a “Just Walk Out” shopping experience.
Another example of automated retail is the Popcom Shop, a smart vending machine that not only dispenses product but also:
- counts the number of people that pass by the machine
- plays ads
- collects demographic data of the foot traffic around the machine.
It allows businesses to go beyond selling to also being a first-party data collection source. With this data, you can sell and market more efficiently to existing and new customers.
Types of retail automation
Almost all retail processes are being disrupted. According to John Spacey, there are 6 types of automated retail:
- Vending machines
- Service Kiosks
- Retail apps
- Retail operations
- Retail kiosks
This list is sure to grow longer with innovations in the near future as well as the benefits of deploying them.
How can retail automation benefit your business?
As a business owner, retail automation helps you
- operate efficiently
- reduce human errors
- improve employee productivity
- create a seamless and easy customer experience.
These advantages translate to reduction in overall operating costs but most importantly, repeat sales.
For consumers, innovations in retail technology erase long queues, make it easier to locate products, and in some cases, eliminates the traditional checkout process entirely.
Automated retail is still evolving but it will be the standard for future retail. This is especially true given the current pandemic around the world. Consumers still want the physical in-store shopping experience but with as minimal human interaction as possible. The key to implementing automated retail successfully is developing a strategy that integrates your existing retail infrastructure and building on top of that.
Amazon Go works well because Amazon has a robust mobile app with a large built-in customer base thanks to Amazon Prime.
Similarly, a PopCom digital pop-up shop would work really well for companies that already have a Shopify storefront because that catalogue of products is also accessible from the PopShop.
Automation is helping retailers reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and improve the customer experience. If it isn’t already on your growth strategy for the next quarter, it should be.