According to Forrester, the global retail industry is expected to lose $2.1 trillion in sales this year. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has varied across industries, but retail was arguably worst hit. With strict lockdowns and restrictions, less and less customers were walking into retail stores, and eventually the retail stores themselves also had to close under further government restrictions.
As a result, this has meant that those in the retail industry who relied predominantly on their in-store experience and weren’t already on the e-commerce train completely lost their sales and, thus, their income. Over the last 15 months, retailers have had to completely redefine and overhaul their strategy, with a focus on digital commerce.
When it comes to e-commerce, McKinsey reports that most categories of retail have seen upwards of a 10% growth in their online customer base during the pandemic, with many consumers saying that they plan to continue shopping online even now that physical stores have begun to re-open.
As e-commerce soars, retailers need to create a unique and transformed in-store experience to bring customers back into stores again, not just online. The way to do this is through digital transformation and technology adoption, to unlock new sources of innovation.
Enhancing the customer shopping experience
Because the in-store experience has completely changed for the consumer, retailers should be looking to draw customers in through unique experiences and offerings, while providing elevated customer service. To remain competitive, technological innovation will need to be at the heart of the business.
The key is to offer the customer something they cannot experience while shopping online. One way to do this is the introduction of automation, with the conversion of stores to instant micro-fulfillment centres. Digital must be at the core in order to simplify back-end processes, improve efficiency, deliver new and superior outcomes for the customer, and thus build their trust.
As product information is so easily accessible online, retailers will need to bring this level of knowledge and information to the in-store shopping experience, as the ScreenVend solution does by its very nature. Providing this more informative and convenient shopping experience, along with instant micro-fulfillment of product purchased in store will set retailers apart from popular e-commerce sites.
Improving operational efficiency at the back-end
Aside from automation for seamless self-service experiences, retailers should not forget about automating their back-end processes. Streamlining the processes and operational efficiency from the back-end will have a knock-on effect on both the retailer’s growth and the customer’s experience. This will include adoption of tech-enabled platforms and automation also, reducing dependency on individual workers and eliminating human error in processes such as manual data or information entry, while also allowing staff to spend more time with customers.
Despite the fact that many e-commerce sites offer fast delivery, often within 2 days of purchase (or same day), bricks-and-mortar retail is still the fastest way for customers to receive their products.
The difference with ScreenVend is that customers can shop an entire back catalogue of product in store as they would online, without the wait for delivery. The use of automation through robotics means that thousands more products can be stored in the robot than would normally be on shelf on the shop floor, with the robot acting as an inventory repository as much as a convenient instant dispensing mechanism, offering a seamless customer shopping experience and eliminating out-of-stocks and delays. It also offers the opportunity to analyse customer data, meaning retailers can accurately project demand, react to customer needs and fulfil purchases in a quick and efficient way.
If you’re looking to implement a digital retail transformation within your business, think about it from all aspects, not just the customer-facing ones. ScreenVend is an immersive experience that is seamless. It is not simply an eCommerce site in store, but allows improved inventory, supply chain, order management and checkout processes, with home delivery and instant fulfilment options.
Automation and digital transformation mean future-proofing. It’s time to get on board.
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Sources: Forrester, McKinsey, Total Retail, Oro Inc, Lvitity