Whether it’s booking our own flights or travel tickets online, reading our own utility meters, or watching TV programmes on demand, we’re already living in an increasingly self-serve kind of world – driven by the digital revolution.
And retail is clearly also travelling this way too. With Amazon’s checkout-free store concept making headlines and the likes of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in the UK ramping up their scanning and mobile payment capability in grocery, self-service is high on the industry’s agenda.
Retailers’ move towards self-service is largely based on the ambition to provide consumers with an array of convenient options to meet their needs in store, as well as allowing shoppers to create engaging independent experiences like they can online.
As the Internet of Things (IOT) movement increases in pace over the next 12-18 months, stores will become smarter, and the most forward-thinking retailers will be looking to embed the self-service element into wider systems for the benefit of their customers and their business.
Whether it’s product information kiosks or endless aisle screens, – the more these self-service points are joined up and managed centrally, the more retailers will gather an understanding of their shoppers’ behaviour. The more details they have access to, the more relevant the service they can provide.
Intelligent retail environments give consumers more control over their shopping experience and support their decision-making process but, with the right technology and smart store platforms in place, the retailers themselves are set to gain too.
IOT means different things to different businesses, but its common goal is increased connectivity. The potential for stores here is endless – for example, embracing connectivity will allow them to serve up personally curated product ranges for consumers on kiosks, or trigger staff interaction at the most optimal times.
Serving up what customers want
At Grassfish, we conducted some in-depth research into the shopping habits of different age groups, and an assessment of the technologies they’d like to see in stores. The good news is customers of all ages are keen on digital interactions in a brick and mortar retail environment.
'The Generation Game' market report found that touchscreen displays are the most popular digital device for use in-store among all age groups, except 30-44-year-olds, who prefer self-service checkouts.
With such a crucial shopper demographic so keen for the self-serve element, retailers should be looking to maximise revenues from these customer touchpoints wherever possible. Keep shoppers happy and offer the services they prefer, and they’re sure to tell friends and families, and keep on coming back.
Self-service does not just mean kiosks or payment terminals – our report shows there is a significant demand for retailers to provide mobile apps for managing loyalty schemes and interactive tablet information points, which enable consumers to shape their own in-store journeys.
There are some big-name retailers trying different things to give their customers the level of independence they demand in a store. But with the right connected technologies and an IOT smart store approach to deploying these touchpoints, there’s so much more they could be achieving.
Grassfish’s Xperience Hub and Platform are playing a central role in creating smart retail. Find out more in our new retailers' Guide to Smart Stores and IOT.