Retailers today face many challenges. Consumption patterns have changed – and keep on changing – and Covid-19 only expedited this change process.
Consumers demand solutions that better cater to the “new normal” of low-touch and no-touch shopping journeys. And with a clear separation between online and offline (O2O) shopping channels disappearing, connected experiences with consumers in control of their shopping journeys will be the new norm.
Consumers set the rules
We live in a consumer-centric world, in which consumers determine the rules of engagement. A recent study of more than 15,000 grocery shoppers, carried out by Nielsen and commissioned by Diebold Nixdorf, found a steep increase in consumers preferring smaller basket sizes and higher shopping frequencies, supported by fast, convenient and ‘low-touch’ in-store services. According to Nielsen, 48 per cent of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers do their shopping several times per week, compared to 38 per cent of Gen X and Baby Boomers. And despite Covid-19, going to physical stores remains the preferred option for most consumers.
Self-service empowers them
Consumers are changing their behavior when it comes to checkout and payment in stores, with a higher preference for self-service journeys. This matches with consumers’ desire to be more in control of their shopping journey.
According to Nielsen, waiting in queue is the number-one frustration for shoppers (37 per cent of respondents), and self-scanning items that enable them to leave the store faster would solve that friction point. With self-service technology, consumers are empowered to choose the shopping journey they prefer, one that’s more intuitive and frictionless. Self-service lets consumers control how they shop, supporting low-touch and no-touch journeys, at the pace they want, while saving time in queue as well.
More open, more modular and more available
There are three prerequisites for successful self-service implementations: openness, modularity and availability. The more these are encapsulated in your self-service store equipment and processes, the better you can continue to support consumer journeys without any friction, today and tomorrow.
The level of openness determines how easily you can implement self-service journeys into existing store formats. It’s about being open in working with multiple vendors and technologies, open in gradually extending your IT infrastructure, and open in adapting business processes and journeys as you see fit. It requires self-service equipment (software and hardware) to have open, standardised interfaces that foster easy integration with other third-party solutions. It should not matter who created the solutions already in place: all that matters is to have standardised and accepted ways to exchange information using a platform approach that avoids lock-ins and promotes re-use of existing and proven self-service solutions.
Modular self-service equipment allows you to take a true ‘right-sizing’ approach while keeping options open to rapidly respond to emerging consumer journeys. Modular store equipment offers on-site scalability and easy upgradability. Scalability lets you quickly scale up or down the same modules across your stores, independent of location and store format. Upgradability enables step-by-step innovations without facing prohibitive investments upfront. Combined, modularity offers efficiency gains, steeper learning curves, shorter implementation times and, in the end, lower TCO.
The third prerequisite for successful self-service implementations is availability. According to the Nielsen study, roughly 75 per cent of consumers demand more control over their shopping journeys, which explains why self-service is booming. Self-service technologies put more control in the hands of the consumer while reducing workloads for store staff. However, for a smooth adoption, it is crucial that self-service equipment is ‘always on’, i.e. readily available at all times. Retailers can’t risk losing consumers’ trust due to malfunctioning equipment, especially since it will now be the consumers themselves who experience system failure first.
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