Small and medium-sized retail shop entrepreneurs wear numerous hats and have a variety of positions, ranging from owner to buyer, marketer to staff manager. Daily operations management demands an enormous amount of focus. When evaluating new retail technology aimed to make these processes more effective and less time-consuming, business owners often become confused about what will help them achieve their objectives.
However, it is possible to employ technology in a variety of ways, including enhancing the customer experience, attracting mobile users, making shopping more convenient for customers, helping customers feel safer, and to boost an online retailer's profile.
The following are business-related technological innovations:
M&S’s in-queue checkout
In late 2020, M&S was the first UK food retailer to implement instant payment in its locations. This payment system enables consumers with a modest number of products to check out with an M&S employee while in line, as opposed to waiting till a self-service staff becomes available.
A portable gadget controlled by a member of staff is utilized to accept contactless payment for the merchandise, freeing up long lines to make the store less congested and, ultimately, safer for shoppers during the pandemic.
This technology has been implemented in 200 locations so far as part of a larger push to make in-store shopping more efficient, convenient, and secure, including the ability to reserve a shopping time slot online in advance.
Hema's QR codes
In 2016, Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce titan, built its first Hema shop in China. Combining features of online and offline shopping to achieve the ideal seamless experience is the supermarket's philosophy.
In-store, clients may scan QR codes to obtain additional product information (including the exact date food items were harvested, sourced, and delivered). Payments may also be done using the Hema app, which makes buying a breeze. Customers may reserve a seat at a table using the Hema app, and they can also use the app to place orders for things from the shop to be prepared.
Kroger's computerized pricing tags
In 2018, the supermarket company Kroger in the United States used digital price tags across hundreds of its locations. Edge is part of Kroger and Microsoft's 2019 retail-as-a-service initiative to revolutionize the shopping experience. This technology, dubbed "Kroger Edge," digitally displays the price and nutritional information of selected items.
In addition to influencing the customer experience, Edge technology is supposed to benefit the retailer's environmental initiatives. According to Microsoft, the technology is powered by renewable energy, and the lighted pricing will allow Kruger to dim the overhead lights and save energy expenditures.
Bingobox's unstaffed locations
The Chinese company BingoBox, which is conceptually comparable to Amazon Go, takes the idea of unattended storefronts to an entirely new level. Initially introduced in 2016, there are now thousands of these 24-hour convenience shops spread around China.
Customers must scan a QR code using the widely-used WeChat app, which will enable them entry to the store, before browsing up to 800 different stock-keeping units, including beverages, snacks, and even things such as condoms and sex toys, which some may find unpleasant to purchase from a human cashier.
Once these items are chosen, BingoBox visitors may employ the self-checkout equipped with RFID on the package, which removes the requirement for scanning and payment via WeChat or AliPay. On the way out, there is also a sophisticated security system that recognizes unpaid-for items on a customer and prevents them from leaving the store until they replace the item on the shelf.
The BingoBox is not yet totally automated; human employees are necessary to resupply things regularly, and a remote customer care representative is available in case consumers require more assistance.
The social retail shop of Burberry
Shenzhen, the "tech capital" of China, was the location of the inauguration of Burberry's first social retail store in July 2020. Burberry, in collaboration with Tencent, intends to capitalize on the region's love of luxury shopping and social media by creating an immersive and interactive experience that combines the two.
Users acquire virtual social currency when they interact with a special mini-program within the WeChat app, such as arranging appointments, learning more about certain items, and submitting their own UGC. This cash is then used to progressively hatch and grow an animal figure on the shopper's smartphone screen as they go throughout the store, gamifying the shopping experience and rewarding consumers for their participation.
As is typical in China, QR codes are also widely deployed. The clothing racks and other displays have QR codes that clients can scan with the WeChat mini-program to learn more about the collections and experience visually-rich narratives.
Retail technology is a powerful force that every small business needs to exploit—and it may be the most important catalyst for growth in your business.
Don't wait to have all the resources available before you start a crusade to use technology to improve your business.
Remember that technology is at its core just a tool. It's how you use it that will ultimately determine whether it helps to drive growth for your business.
There are several retailers who have put these tools to work for them and succeeded in doing so.
At Uncut Lab, we help businesses to incorporate retail technology and be more efficient. So, if you want to adapt to latest retail technology, get in touch with our team of experts.