How retail is changing with technology?
The world of retail has come under pressure over the years with people choosing to shop online or in out of town shopping areas, instead of choosing to go to the high street. Our retail shops, however, are starting to change to bring people back. One of the ways they are doing this is by incorporating technology into the shopping experience.
Our high street stores are going to become more like our online retails, with places like M&S having large screens where if you can’t find an item in stock, you can order your item instore and have it delivered to your home in a few days. Shops are also introducing ‘Beckons’ that can connect to your phone to send pop ups about sales, new products from one you have bought before and targeted advertising. Sales assistants can use this information to help customers. They can contact and identify what the person likes to buy and help recommend new products to them. Some luxury companies are using facial recognition to see where their customers spend most time instore, what products they go to and how long they are spending in the store. This data can help the store optimism their layouts, product placements and customer service.
Some clothing stores are introducing smart mirrors using 3D scanners so the customer can try on clothes without needing to go to a changing room. Stores are also introducing mirrors where you can look up different sizes or colours for clothes. An assistant will then pick up your message, collect and deliver the clothes for you to try on. Stores are also testing the use of robotic staff members which can help customers identify items, locate them and put you in contact with a human if you need extra help. Some can also check stock levels, misplaced products on shelves and pricing errors.
Other shops are taking this a step further, Sainsbury’s had their first ‘Smart Shop’ in 2015 where you could download an app, scan the items you need to buy at home, travel to the store and connect to the WIFI. Once connected, the app will then tell you where the items are instore and once you have found and scan your items, you can head to a ‘Smart checkout’ to pay from your phone. Stores like this will become the norm, especially with companies like Amazon taking even bigger steps forward by having a store where you can walk out without going to a check out. All you do is scan your phone to enter, you can then pick up any item in the shop and just walk out! This is a massive step in the direction of not having checkouts and queues. They are able to do this by using a few different tools. Computer vision is a key part, the store can see what you have picked up of the self and add it to your amazon account. This then feeds into their deep learning algorithms to process the information it needs to record and track what is happening in the store. They also us sensor fusion to track the items in store so you can see stock levels. These are technologies that have been developed for self-driving cars but applying it to see the inside of the store.
What does this mean for retail workers?
Retail workers are going to need the customer service skills to build relations with the customer. The focus will not be on till based work but about building relations and giving people an experience. The employees will have to the extra added touch and work with the technology instore, allowing them to spend more time and attention to customers. Building relationships that will keep people coming back to the high street and not abandon it altogether.
Its going to be important to have the right skills to match the changes that are being introduced by these technologies. That’s why at free2learn, we give our leaners extra skills in customer service, digital skills and retail so they have the knowledge to enter into the retail word.
Go to: free2learn.org.uk/courses/ to see which course inspires you to your next career!