Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck us, technological disruptions were prompting retailers to invest heavily in automation and robotics. The goal was to be prepared for the rising popularity of online shopping, reducing dependency on human labour and enhancing the customer experience. As the pandemic ushered in a new era of shopping, it paved the way for retailers to woo customers by offering contact-less payment options, doing away with checkout lines and offering an omnichannel shopping experience.
Experts believe that the pandemic, which triggered massive supply chain disruptions, could act as a turbocharger for retailers to invest in automation to complete tedious tasks that were otherwise done by low-pay workers. Hence, automation helped in rebooting retail by giving retailers more control over their supply chains, warehouse management and enabling them to offer a seamless shopping experience to their customers.
Let us study ways by which retailers can gear up for the post-COVID era, the evolving role of physical stores in the digital world and the need to opt for retail automation.
Gaining retail advantage in the post-COVID era :
2020 showed us that retail businesses with a strong e-commerce presence, the ability to adapt technology and deliver an omnichannel experience across stores, online and social media, were the only ones who were able to survive even during these testing times. Despite the pandemic, Amazon posted its biggest profit ever this summer and Walmart also saw a growth of 97% in its online business. The key is to use data to study the changing consumer preferences and be agile in responding to it by ensuring faster checkouts, personalised and seamless shopping experience and ominichannel options.
For example, fashion brands like Pepe Jeans, Bata and Levi’s Strauss are sending retail trucks to residential colonies to cater to customers who are avoiding malls and crowded places due to the fear of the virus.
Evolving role of physical stores in a digital world :
Imagine a first-time home owner wants to buy a sofa set for his home. He browses various websites, reads customer reviews, and finalises the sofa he wants to buy. However, still not satisfied, he drives to the nearest outlet, sees the furniture first-hand, asks pertinent questions from the salesman and finally purchases the product. This example not only shows the relevance of physical stores in a highly digital world, but highlights the consumers’ demand to move across channels easily, get prompt real-time access to product information and instant information on inventory and pricing.
Besides offering omnichannel options and personalised shopping experience, it is time for retailers to rethink their strategy to thrive in the new World Order. They need to figure out what extra they can offer in their physical stores that brings in more customers. Can a change in store layout help? Will more product information being displayed on a screen enhance customer experience? Can incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) give you an edge?
However, investing heavily in augmentation or technology can be a big decision. It is advisable to take help from experts like Intellect Commerce who can help you build a smart mechanism to empower you to think innovatively, execute those ideas in an agile manner and test results.
Now, let us learn how retail automation, led by POS helps stores and supermarkets.
Benefits of an automated POS system in retail :
In the dynamic and competitive world of retail, there is no scope for error or inefficiency. An automated POS system can help in retail growth. Let us see its benefits:
- Inventory management : There are various ways automation can ace inventory management. It can conduct inventory counts and send that information to your tech stack. It is also useful to alert retailers about low stocks or stockouts. Sometimes, a retail automation, led by smart POS can also kick off automation for the purchasing process, right from generating POs to submitting it to the suppliers. In fact, retail giants like Amazon and Walmart are using robots for both warehouse management and order fulfilment.
- Enhances customer satisfaction : More and more retailers are taking the help of automation to serve their customers better. The first step is to use Robotic Process Automation to answer your customers’ queries swiftly without involving your store’s employees. The US retailer Lowe introduced an in-store robot that helps customers in locating items in the store by using inventory tracking. The LoweBot is extremely popular among customers as it also solves their queries in a jiffy. Automation also allows retailers to ease their shopping experience by doing away with checkout lines and empowering shoppers to come, pick and leave.
- Increase wallet share : An automated POS gives you instant information about your customers that can help you form a rapport with them and give you opportunities to upsell. For example, if you have sold a washing machine to a customer last month and he visits again, you can generally enquire if the machine is working fine and make a sales pitch about a new liquid detergent to go with it.
- Auto replenishment : As discussed before, retail automation is a boon for inventory management. It allows you to set the level of replenishment of your products. Once the product is about to go out of stock, this feature will inform you in advance by asking you to replenish the product.
- Integration with payment gateways : This feature enables customers to pay by the method of their choice quickly and safely.
- Faster and efficient way of doing things : An automated POS provides a centralised workplace for different departments to easily share files, work together with each other on designs and data, and execute critical tasks efficiently.
- Marketing : It also allows retailers to communicate with their customers in a personalised and targeted way.
- Employee management : An automated POS enables automatic clocking-out of employees if they have not clocked out at the end of their shift. It can even send smart notifications to managers about things like IT issues, cash discrepancy in the drawers, etc.
With so many benefits, there shouldn’t be any doubts on how a smart, automated and efficient POS can change your retail game. For more information, ask for a free demo on how iRetail suite can help you achieve your goals.