Automation of retail sales and sales of consumer goods (CPG) is a necessity dictated by many factors. So, in addition to accelerating the overall pace of life and the desire of consumers to make purchases with a minimum investment of time, the pandemic has made adjustments with its risks, quarantines and other restrictions.
In 2020, virtually all retailers have felt the effects of the pandemic — massive drops in offline conversions combined with a meteoric rise in online conversions. Strict quarantine, when people could not visit shops and service establishments as often as before the introduction of preventive measures; became a catalyst for the development of all components of the retail business — IT infrastructure, logistics, management methods and technologies for the team, products and the business itself.
According to statistics, after the restrictions were lifted, about 17% of customers chose not to return to offline purchases. Among the named reasons is the desire to spend as little time as possible on the choice of goods; make purchases without standing in lines; unwillingness to wait for a sales assistant; irritation caused by slow service; almost round-the-clock availability of online stores, and without the need to leave the apartment.
To effectively address the emerging challenges, many of which required a response in a matter of hours, retail companies had to get serious about
- planning based on predictive business analytics;
- technology upgrades;
- retail outlet automation.
Most of the solutions are called RetailTech.
What is the business benefit?
Automation is a sign of fair trade and transparency of transactions. Retail stores with state-of-the-art equipment are attractive to shoppers as they provide certain guarantees and speed up the buying process. Robotic process automation (RPA) brings tangible material benefits to retail companies — replacing labor-intensive manual processes has a better effect on conversions and customer loyalty:
- the outlet meets all legal requirements;
- the buyer gets the opportunity to pay by bank transfer, take part in discount savings and pay using bonus cards;
- by issuing a check to the buyer, the seller can regulate actions in case of intentions to return / exchange goods;
- simplified, of accounting taking into account all expenses — tax deductions, rent of premises, wages, logistics costs, and so on;
- by increasing the speed of service at the checkout ~ three times, a lot of time is saved for both the seller and the buyer;
- gives the sales assistant the opportunity to clarify the availability of goods in the warehouse;
- the marketing department receives data on the degree of activity of an already established client, which allows developing promotions to return him;
- allows to eliminate errors caused by the human factor, which significantly reduces the level of conflicts with the consumer and improves the quality of service in general.
Retail automation equipment
The kit usually includes the following equipment:
- currency detectors;
- money boxes;
- electronic scales;
- banknote counters;
- cash registers;
- barcode scanners;
- fiscal registrars;
- visitor identifiers;
- printers for printing labels and other consumables;
- surveillance cameras and other anti-theft equipment, etc.
The set of equipment required for a particular store depends on its specifics. So, supermarkets need equipment for maximum automation of self-service. Small grocery stores selling by weight will need electronic scales built into the automation system. Shops with an assortment of excisable goods install fiscal registrars (RPO) and provide a stable Internet connection for timely forwarding of data to the tax office. For online stores, it is convenient to combine warehouses into one common system. Clothing and footwear outlets will increase the level of service and, accordingly, the conversion by installing a tracking system in warehouses, taking into account the design, model, season, size of goods.
When choosing equipment for a particular outlet, it is important to consider the quality of the Internet connection. It is better to choose equipment with alternative connectivity to minimize the risk of data loss in case of problems on the part of the provider.
In addition, it is necessary to take into account the productivity of equipment designed for specific purposes. So, in large warehouses, printers with high print speeds are installed. For small grocery stores, thermal printers are optimal. In warehouses where goods are stored for years, it is convenient to use thermal transfer printing equipment.
Software for trade automation
Is required for the operation of the equipment Specialized software. Its installation, maintenance and timely troubleshooting guarantees perfect customer service as well as a complete picture of business performance.
Do not forget about the growing mobile traffic, which is gradually becoming dominant online. To make communication with the buyer even more personalized and successful for business purposes, they analyze data on transactions and other interactions made using cell phones, create and constantly improve the virtual environment of the store, and distribute inventory between offline and online resources. For a positive customer experience, the loading speed of product cards and other pages of the store, detailed and competent descriptions, high-quality images, and a sufficient assortment are still important. That is, high-quality native applications, designed for customers to download to mobile phones, allow you to constantly replenish the data box for marketing with up-to-date information; give customers the opportunity to choose and purchase in conditions of maximum comfort and save time, building trust and loyalty; raise the company ten steps above competitors who do not have such digital solutions; “Tick off” the points about scaling and active development — and all this is part of the task of automating retail.
You will also be interested: