Retailers can attract more customers and gain a competitive advantage by deploying automation, new research shows.
The Capgemini Research Institute surveyed over 5,000 consumers and 500 retail executives in across Europe, North America and Asia for its Smart Stores – Rebooting the retail store through in-store automation report.
It found that consumers are generally receptive to automation in the retail environment and believe it can help to solve ‘pain points’ they experience in-store, including long checkout queues (66%), difficulty in locating products (60%) and products being out of stock (56%).
A majority (59%) of consumers who have previously visited stores with automation said they would be willing to shift their purchases from a retailer without such technologies, to one that offers them. Among 22-36 year-olds, the figure was as high as 67%.
Automation could also attract customers previously reliant on e-commerce back into stores: 46% of consumers who had a positive experience with in-store automation said they would be willing to switch some of their online purchases from digital retailers to stores with automation.
Coop Norway is one retailer that has seen a clear benefit from introducing automation.
“Previously, our stores closed at 11pm and couldn’t serve people returning home late at night, often looking for something quick to eat,” said Kristian Bjørseth, head of Payments and IDs at Coop Norway. “So, we introduced Coop Key, an app that allows consumers to enter an unstaffed store after hours, and self-serve entirely.
“We’re now seeing substantial revenues between 11pm and midnight, and improved numbers for high-margin products such as frozen pizzas. Security and age-verification are ensured by biometrics in the app that identify every individual customer.”
In order to capitalise on consumer interest in automation, retailers will need to prioritise technology that creates positive consumer experiences rather than as a cost saving exercise, Capgemini said.
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