Enhancing CX With Frictionless Retail Automation
Applications of classic vending and self-serve solutions are being updated with digital technology and connectivity to help brands and retailers create automated customer experiences that enhance convenience, boost personalization and drive operational efficiencies. By outfitting displays, kiosks, and even entire stores with a mixture of AI, computer vision, mobile interactivity and robotics features, retailers are empowering consumers to take greater control of their shopping experience. At the same time, these solutions provide ready access to product information, recommended selections and frictionless that prioritize ease and safety. From a brand and retailer perspective, automated systems, smart vending machines, and robotic solutions are providing opportunities to not only excite consumers and connect with them in new ways, but meet consumers where they are, whether that’s in-store, within their local neighborhoods or even their own doorsteps.
Across the marketplace, innovative retailers are leveraging autonomous technology coupled with AI and machine learning to streamline their operations while increasing fulfillment speeds and simultaneously reduce costs.. Robotization and unmanned stores have become spectacles in themselves, giving consumers new reasons to visit . Paradoxically, reassigning time-consuming tasks to a robot is enabling store associates to deliver more customer-facing value.
In a new research paper, the PSFK iQ research team explores the self-service tools, technologies, and applications brands and retailers are launching in order to integrate convenience and drive sales around a wide variety of products and services. Learn about the pre-, during, and post-purchase solutions that offer consumers an entirely contactless journey. From featured trends and highlighted examples, discover an approach to service that utilizes technology, robotics, and automation in order to drive maximum personalization and convenience.
Proprietary Insights found in PSFK’s Research
Shoppers think stores need to do a better job delivering unique, convenient and quality experiences.
When asked if they found store experiences fresh and innovative, 71% of US shoppers said moderately, a little or not at all.
While shoppers appreciate ‘familiar’ technology as part of the retail experience, they’re not ready to relinquish complete control.
When asked about in-store technologies they think would improve the shopping experience, US shoppers prize most highly familiar technologies such as self-checkouts (47%), lockers (31%) and interactive kiosks (28%). Less than 25% of shoppers say today that robots and other robotic systems would add to the experience.
Automated solutions are freeing up time-limited staff to deliver value-driven interactions with shoppers on a personal, human level.
When asked if they prefer to engage with store associates or store technology, 40% of US shoppers prefer store associates and only 16% prefer only dealing with technology. 32% of shoppers don’t mind either.
Retailers and brand manufacturers have embraced automated solutions to overcome issues like staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions.
“People’s needs and expectations from brands are changing at a rapid pace. As marketers and innovators, it’s crucial that we respond to these demands. We must become more consumer centric and operator empathetic than ever before, and PepsiCo Foodservice is leading the way. Our team is leveraging cutting edge technology and testing new digital innovations that address labor shortages, on-premise safety, sustainability and more.”
Scott Finlow, Global Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo Foodservice
Innovations in vending and unstaffed retail environments are creating new opportunities to connect with customers in new locations and in non-traditional ways.
While over 68% of US shoppers think that most or all stores are easily accessible for them, 31% of shoppers say some to few stores are easily accessible to them — hinting that a segment needs better access to retail experiences like vending.
Featured Trends driving the Automated Store
KITCHEN IN A BOX
Food service is looking beyond the vending of prepackaged meals and beverages–and is developing robotic systems that prepare and even cook food for the customer. By partnering with robotics companies and solution providers, retailers across the food services industry digitizing their cafes and restaurants are not only creating greater efficiency across ordering processes and actual inventory, but also providing their customers with greater personalization options at scale.
To keep pace with consumer expectations for on-demand delivery and efficiently handle the increasing volume of online orders being placed across a host of channels — mobile, social media, websites, chat — retailers are integrating robotic assistants into the workforce. Advances in technology and a lower cost of entry have led to a growth of mechanical servers amongst retailers–on the shop floor, in pick-up zones and for menial tasks that help staff take on more customer engagements. From microfullment operations to robot-powered warehouses and designated eCommerce fulfillment stores, autonomous technology coupled with AI and machine learning is being layered into these environments to support human employees and streamline order picking, ultimately enabling fulfillment-center operators to boost efficiency and speed up deliveries.
SCAN AND PERSONALIZE
Vending machines and automated point of sale services are using computer vision technology to understand their shoppers better and respond with a personalized service. Sometimes the service tailors product selection such as beauty products based on skin type and at other times it can be used to restrict purchase — e.g. not serving minors alcohol. Outfitted with facial recognition AI, QR codes and mobile-activated services, these connected stores, kiosks and self-serve stations are powering hyper-personalized experiences within remote, contactless retail settings.
Best-In-Class Case Studies
PEPSI’S TOUCHLESS TECHNOLOGY IS THE NEXT STEP FOR SELF-SERVE INNOVATION
A new gesture-based kiosk from PepsiCo, powered by Ultraleap technology, gives consumers a more hygienic touchless experience.
ROBOMART ALLOWS CONSUMERS TO ORDER A MARKET ON WHEELS
The on-demand, automated store hailing platform has the potential to revolutionize anytime, anywhere convenience.
JD.COM’S ROBOT-RUN STORE COMBINES ONLINE AND IN-STORE EXPERIENCES
The Chinese retail giant has landed in Europe, with two next-gen robotic stores launched in the Netherlands under a new brand name, Ochama.
This article was based on the research in PSFK’s Enhancing CX With Frictionless Retail Automation report. Get The Report Today