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Opinion: Driving change

Elevating the shopping experience with technology is the key for retailers, according to Maarten Bais, EMEA general manager and vice president at Elo

To survive the ‘retail apocalypse’, store owners must utilise engaging technology to take the physical shopping experience to the next level. Adapting to customers’ ever-evolving expectations can be tough, however, given the plethora of technology solutions retailers must sift through. The solution is to look at the innovations making the biggest difference in retail, focusing on the ones that are gaining widespread adoption and improving the customer experience.

The future of retail may be bright, but only for retailers that find ways to innovate and engage with shoppers. Here’s four key technology trends driving real change in the industry.

Self-service kiosks

Self-service is changing the way consumers shop and purchase. A recent SOTI survey found that 77% of consumers would feel comfortable in a retail setting where the only option for making a purchase was through self-checkout technology. This shows that customers are eager to take control of their shopping experience, skip the line and save time in stores.

Harvard Business Review found that customers see a seven-second shorter wait time with self-service kiosks versus traditional checkouts; these seconds matter, too, as this has been linked to an increase in market share of up to 3%. With self-service kiosks, businesses are seeing a 21% average increase in basket size, leading to higher margins with high-profit add-on items and order modifiers. Retailers can reallocate store associates to be more hands-on with customers, leading to optimised costs and increased operational efficiency.

Android POS

Consumers who shop across channels expect consistent, convenient experiences wherever they go. Self-service kiosks are the best way to provide this in the store. With support for Windows 7 ending in January, retailers must find a solution. Android-based mobile architecture is an increasingly popular replacement for POS devices and kiosks that is already making a huge impact and will continue to do so moving forward.

“Consumers who shop across channels expect consistent, convenient experiences wherever they go”

A move to Android provides a unified experience across web, mobile and on-premise. This means shoppers can comfortably and intuitively navigate in-store touchpoints, because they are similar to the mobile website or smartphone app.

Additionally, Android-powered devices add flexibility and adaptability to a retailer’s self-service offerings. The rise in Android-based POS means retailers can create a dynamic customer experience, built to offer the speed and reliability shoppers expect.

Facial recognition

Retailers using facial-recognition software can create personalised experiences both digitally and in-store. Facial recognition can capture consumers’ information and preferences when they enter the door, allowing retailers to better understand shopper behaviour and blend the online and offline experience.

For example, California eatery CaliBurger piloted a loyalty programme that uses facial-recognition technology to identify registered customers at self-order kiosks. The system knows the customer’s favorite items and allows them to complete the ordering process in just a couple of clicks. Personalised touchpoints drive customer loyalty, and facial recognition can help achieve this goal.

Touchscreen technology

Interactive touchscreens are becoming the new normal in human interaction — we are inclined to tap on any screen we see, from smartphones to car radios, making their use instinctual and habitual. Seizing on this trend, the retailers are implementing customer-facing touchscreens to create an immersive shopping experience.

These touchscreens — whether monitors, digital signage or computers — allow shoppers to browse for items on a tablet or complete their purchases on a large screen. For example, The Fitting Room in Gothenburg, Sweden implemented interactive touchscreens for customers to place orders, freeing up the store associates to assist customers and create an enhanced experience blending the physical and digital shopping worlds.

Touchscreen technology can drive revenue and transform the way customers interact with a retailer. With accurate touch response and vivid imagery, retailers create an enhanced visual experience that increases customer retention.

The retail sector is ready for innovation, and it’s up to retailers to implement key technology that will drive transformation and create a strong customer experience. Self-service kiosks, Android OS, facial recognition and touchscreens are increasingly popular innovations that retailers should explore as they strive to provide greater convenience and a more meaningful relationship with their customers.