Gone are the days when people used to call up airlines to get flights booked or wait in a queue to get movie tickets. These reduced human interactions aren’t driven by organizations looking to shave off a few extra bucks. It’s because the current generation is more comfortable  doing things by themselves, be it figuring out the reviews of a book they want to buy or the fat content of a new confectionery that has come up on the shelves or mostly just about anything. They don’t want to wait for others to understand their questions; they want to learn only as much as required and want to solve problems at their own pace.

Research carried out by Nuance has shown that 67% of respondents preferred self-service over speaking to a company representative. However, yet another research by Nuance shows that 58% of customers are unable to resolve their issues through self-service and 59% are frustrated when they have to reach out to a customer service representative.

It’s clear that self-service is where the retail experience is headed. And retailers who are able to service a wide variety of questions through digital enablement are going to get a larger share of the customer pie.

So, here’s a list of three must-have tools that the smart retailer needs to add to his self-service arsenal:

#Customized Shopping Lists

According to a survey by Nielsen, more than 64% grocery shoppers are willing to use mobile shopping lists in the future.

For millennials on the go, digital shopping lists come in extremely handy, helping them compose lists based on what they need, rather than shop on a whim. By grouping items together, they save the busy shopper considerable time while in the store. This keeps the shopper from walking back all the way across the store for bread when she could have picked it up while putting eggs in her cart.

Mobile apps with built-in machine learning systems & IoT device connectivity can respond to a user’s personal requirements by predicting when she is likely to run out of groceries and reminding her to prepare the shopping list in advance.

For the retailer, such tools play right into his loyalty-building and traffic-building objectives. Based on a user’s current shopping lists, he can come up with personalized loyalty coupons as a strategy for increasing footfalls and sales.

#Indoor Navigation- The Big Leap Inward

Navigating the great outdoors is already as easy as ABC for modern smartphone users, thanks to GPS apps. However, wandering the supermarket aisles hunting for that elusive brand of olive oil or the difficult-to-catch store associate isn’t quite as easy.

Why should the ability to navigate space not extend beyond the retailer’s front door?

Enter indoor mapping. It offers incredibly diverse potential. And there are obvious advantages for both shoppers and retailers that follow from it.

Indoor mapping can help plan and optimize the shopping route for consumers inside the physical store in such a way that they have to walk the minimum distance, without crisscrossing the whole store. Shoppers can thus locate the items that they want to grab, promptly and conveniently, without having to reach out to store associates for assisted service.

The real beneficiary, however, is the retailer. He would be able to know that a certain shopper, with milk added in her shopping list, has reached the aisle to pick the item off the shelf. Armed with this info, he can send a real-time push notification about a particular brand of cereal which is on special offer just a couple of aisles away, thus influencing her shopping decision at the very moment of purchase.

The tracking ability offers the retailer unparalleled access to detailed customer analytics and helps him make dynamic decisions related to promotions for in-store specials, new product advertisements, customer loyalty benefits etc.

A look at shopper traffic also helps the retailer in designing store layout as well as product merchandising.

# Phygital Checkout

There’s a growing realization that removing barriers to transaction in today’s world of time-pressed shoppers can be a real draw in almost any retail setting.

Cross channel fulfilment options like Click and Collect allow shoppers the flexibility to make a purchase from the comfort of their own home, and pick up their items whenever it is most convenient for them, without waiting for deliveries.

Consumer behavior is also driving the inclusion of solutions such as Mobile POS & Self-Checkouts that offer convenience and speed to the modern shopper and make long queues at checkout a thing of the past.

Mobile POS: With the decline in cash payments, sales associates can be equipped to close a transaction at any location on the shop floor using their mobile POS. Canada’s largest retailer Dollarama has introduced hand-held, mobile cash registers at most of its store locations.

Self-Checkout: Instead of having the staff provide assisted service, mobile applications can facilitate self-check-out by making the shopper solely responsible for completing the transaction. Shoppers can take control of the shopping experience, scanning bar codes/ QR codes of items as they shop. Apple Pay and other digital wallets can then be used to complete the transaction.

Self-Checkout promises some obvious upsides for the retailer too. It reduces the number of traditional checkout stations, bringing down operational costs and also allows the usage of valuable front-of-store real estate for product showcases.

A possible flip side of Self-Checkout could be an increase in instances of retail theft. However, with access to modern technologies, the retailer can easily overcome such challenges.

Conclusion

The emergence of cutting-edge technologies in the future will further add new dimensions to the concept of self-service-  expand what it means to offer self-service to the connected shopper. And the winning retailer will be the one who offers engaging, self-directed experiences to draw and retain a new segment of digitally driven shoppers.

Watch our webcast : Phygital Retail – Merging Online & In-store Customer Experience

Connect with our Retail &  Mobility experts to learn more about In-Store Navigation & other self-service tools for efficiencies.

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Krittika Banerjee

Krittika Banerjee

Research Analyst at Aspire Systems
Fond of exploring contemporary technical and digital innovations, Krittika is always updated with what is new on this front. She writes about innovation and latest technology trends in various sectors.
Krittika Banerjee