Tharini Dasanayaka

March 22, 2021

Improving the customer experience at retail supermarkets using technology

The retail industry is woven around the needs and the wants of their customers. And it keeps changing every day to suit the customer preference. With the increase of retail shops the competition to remain at the top has become a bit of a tug-of-war, with each retailer trying to offer something better than the other to keep their customers loyalty. Branding and having the latest fashion is not going to be enough for the customers in the very near future. With the busy lifestyles, people are drawn to the more convenient ways of getting a job done.

This is where the new technology comes in and gives the renaissance to the retailing industry. Everything will be new and upgraded to better suit the customer needs while offering the long overdue upgrade to the retailer-customer relationship. Each customer will be individually identified. They will be notified of the offers in their favorite stores by analyzing their shopping lists and shopping cycles using the latest technology. This revolutionary change is predicted to make the shops more like websites and websites more like shops.

In this new age, everything will be virtual. Each of these customers will be accompanied by a virtual shopping assistant who not only knows about your taste but who also will know about your bank account details allowing you to make financially smart decisions. This virtual world will be armed with a specific set of tools to help everyone out. Some of these tools are IoT, Smart Mirrors, Virtual mannequins, Virtual stores, Robotic/virtual Assistants, Facial recognition and Auto check.

IoT or Internet of things will be there to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital world of the retail store and supermarkets. This includes beacons, digital signage, price tags. On-shelf display and smart hangers collecting and providing huge amounts of data on customer activity. These details will be then used to customize the customer experience inside a retail store making the hassle of shopping so much easier. The interactive signage combined with beacons will work together to tell you exactly what you need to buy to compliment the packet of mushroom you just bought. Not just that. This suggestion will be given to you while also informing you of all the available offers while you’re passing the respective aisle. Not only that, Smart shelves will be showing you all the details you need and want to know about each and every item.

The next virtual miracle is the Virtual Mirrors. Using artificial intelligence, virtual reality, gesture recognition technology, and the smart display clothing will be superimposed over the consumer on the screen image. This display will automatically diminish the need for a changing room while fulfilling its requirements without you ever even having to go to the trouble of taking off your clothes to try them on. All you have do is say “Mirror mirror on the wall.” and click a button which will make you try on any outfit you fancy. This system will even take a snap of you and send it to your friends via social media to ask how gorgeous you look in your new outfit. Also, the sizes of these virtual mannequins can be changed according to your required size allowing the customers to check out outfits for anyone along with items that are out of stock to try different combinations to see which fits you the best.

Later it is predicted that all the plastic mannequins that are now on display will be replaced by virtual mannequins who will change their outfit according to your preference through the data taken from your smart device!

And this technology will be adopted by the grocery stores where all the shop details are on your smartphone and the checking out can be done virtually. This way you can have them deliver your food basket at your requirement right to your doorstep.

The next virtual assistance will come from the Robotic Assistants.  The consumers of the future will be greeted by the robotic assistants and these assistants will be able to speak in multiple languages and will assist consumers to find products they want. It can answer questions, provide directions and even chat with consumers. And like a real human employee, it can detect emotions from the tone of voice and facial expression which helps it to tailor its responses. The robot will also be provided with data once a customer enters a store about their preferences and other important details to help in enhancing the customer experience. There will also be virtual assistants in the consumer’s phone/wearable device as well as in retail stores/supermarkets. These assistants will be intelligent enough to understand the requirements of the consumer and even do the shopping for them.

Facial recognition is the next tool we will be talking about. This used to be a technology used for security and military purposes but the integration of facial recognition into smartphones has played a major part in normalizing the usage of this technology. Currently, the retailers can identify their customers by using their loyalty cards and payments but in the near future, facial recognition will allow retailers to identify consumers as they enter a store. The consumers’ product preferences, the average spend amounts can be derived and the online and offline activities of a consumer can be mapped together seamlessly to provide a better customer experience. For example, a consumer can order their products online and the facial recognition cameras will recognize him/her and produce the order as soon as he/she enters the store.

This can also be used to monitor the customer’s actions inside the store. For example how long does she/he takes to make a purchase or the mood of the customer? While in the checkout lines you can actually check how satisfied or unsatisfied the customer is through this same method of facial recognition. These data can later be used to control the pain points in the customer experience. Through the facial recognition systems stores can also avoid theft by observing each customer for a potential incident.

Later this technology will be used to pay for the good by just scanning the customer’s face and hands. After robot support and interactive displays comes the payment process. The future of payments is you walking out the store with your items automatically been scanned and the total been charged to your account. Consumers will not need to scan items and the payments of the future will have no queues and no hassles.

This was merely a sneak-peak into the easy and smart future to come into the retailing industry. Alone these tools perform only a few tasks. But when integrated together properly we will be able to see a sound system for retailing without the inconvenience of having a human error. All we have to do now is wait patiently until this flawless system is implemented to have the perfect shopping spree.

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