Less Contact – Retail Technologies that Reduce Contact with Store Employees

by | Apr 18, 2020

Pre-virus, a lot of technologies were gaining in popularity at retail as ways to create more personalized and seamless customer journeys. And in some cases to reduce employee counts. But now many of these technologies have been given a new purpose – reducing the need for contact between shoppers and store employees – by making it easier for shoppers to complete their journeys without human assistance. This will undoubtedly accelerate the adoption of technologies that do this in store. Here are some of the ones we see as most promising:

Digital Price Tag Networks – based on IoT (the Internet of Things) these digital price tags are remotely updated and can offer shoppers everything from pricing and promotional messaging to basic product details (see photo above).

Smarter Digital Signage and Instore Interactives – which means optimizing content against a clear understanding of what shoppers need to say “yes” – and maximizing the speed in which it can be found. This means carefully thinking out what content you offer and where in the process, particularly what goes on the home screen, the one screen seen by most shoppers.

Endless Aisle Touchscreen

Endless Aisle Interactives – typically large instore touchscreens that let shoppers browse, learn about all available products, not just what’s on the shelves, supporting cross selling and often allowing the shopper to order online (see photo).

Integrated Social Media – for phone and social media addicted shoppers, retailers use interactive displays to bring their social media marketing in-store as one more way to integrate the on-line and in-store experience and give shoppers the confidence to buy without help (see photo above).

Scan and Go – shoppers scan into a store, load their carts scanning each item as they do and then roll their cart out the door without checking out or talking to anyone. A good example – Sam’s Club Now. It offers an app driven experience currently in test market that goes even further. Shoppers can also put their shopping list into the app and it will map out their route through the store. When a shopper shows a product to their phone, it can activate AR enhanced product information. No more need to ask for directions and less need to ask for product info (see photo above and video link below).

Instore Stocking Robots – you’ve probably run into robots wandering one of your local stores by now. They have multiple purposes – but one is to check the shelves for inventory that needs restocking. This cuts down on employees in the aisle, and when used remotely by companies that send people into stores to restock (like the Frito Lay guys) it cuts down on unnecessary trips (see photo above)

LEGO's App-Free Instore AR Brings What's In the Kit to Life

LEGO’s App-Free Instore AR Brings What’s In the Kit to Life. See it

Augmented Reality – currently in vogue mostly as an attract (think the infamous 19 Crimes wine storytelling app), AR use at retail will become more meaningful as a way to offer shoppers rich product information in an interesting and even exciting format. A good example is LEGO’s instore and app-free AR technology that lets you hold up a kit and see what’s inside brought to life onscreen (see photo).

Lift and Learn Product Tables or Shelves – shoppers lift a displayed product up and immediately are offered a rich array of product information ranging from how it’s made and works to usage information and social media reviews (see photo above).

Can any of these assist your shoppers on their journey and reduce the need for instore help? Well, before falling in love with a technology, we recommend making a list of questions about the shopper journey you currently offer. Here’s a sample list:

  • Are you easy to find online?
  • Is the experience offered by your website right – and consistent with what shoppers see instore?
  • Have you given shoppers a reason to trust and like your brand?
  • Is it easy to find a store and where to find the products they’re interested in?
  • Are you proud of your instore displays? Do they accurately reflect your brand and your product’s positioning?
  • Is it easy for shoppers to understand which product is right for them, what it costs and how to buy it?
  • Is it easy to find information about warranty, return policies and what to do if there’s a problem?
  • Can personalizing the experience help – and are there ways to do this?

Figure out the right questions for you, answer them and usually the areas where technology can help will become amazingly apparent. And we’re always ready to help.

For a cool demo of the Sam’s Club Now scan and go app check out this video.