The Future of Automation in Retail Stores

As social distancing is new normal, grocery stores are adapting technology to prevent overcrowding in a place. Deep learning, computer vision, and specialized sensors could help develop a humanless convenience store. It works together to not only automate the checkout counter but also the whole in-store experience.

Even by 2023, e-commerce is forecasted to account for only 21 percent of total retail sales and just 5 percent of grocery sales. Therefore, the physical stores are here to stay accounting for the rest of the retail sales. Moreover, it also implies that the future of retail belongs to enterprises that can offer a true omnichannel experience. As you read along you’ll read about the anticipated future of retail and the challenges faced by retailers in adopting automation.

Future of Customer Journey

Have you ever wondered how automation may enhance the in-store shopping experience? Let’s dive into a hypothetical customer journey to visualize the changes. The AI systems could recognize Clara as she arrives in her preferred grocery store. The mechanism is simple, once Clara enters the store, the system alerts the retailer either via an app login, or Wi-Fi or by a facial-recognition technology in which she signed up as a new customer.

After Clara completes the authentication, the system scans and fetches the list of items that she curated in the app. Consequently, the smart shelf lights up the location of selected items. Moreover, as she walks by the shelves, her phone could display tailored offers, complementary items, and regular purchases that didn’t make it onto the list. In fact, if Clara is curious about the product’s ingredients she could scan the package with the app. The app will project the nutrition information, carbon footprints, manufacturing date, and expiry date through an augmented reality display. 

Once Clara finishes her shopping, she does not wait in the queue to check out. Rather, the system scans and identifies the final items in her cart using RFID scanners and machine vision systems. Finally, she completes the payment after a few taps on the app. 

The future of retail is dependent on emerging technologies. Even, in the present scenario, new technologies have reached an edge and are set to drop onto the retail floor. Machine learning and big-data analytics techniques are promising useful insights by crunching vast quantities of customer data. Engineers are restructuring robots and automation systems to move into warehouses and distribution centers.

You can also read Better Ways To Leverage Voice Search in Online Store

Challenges of Adopting Automation in Stores

Retailers were among the first to adopt automation to ease the workload of the employees. In fact, many retailers of eCommerce stores and offline stores report huge improvements in sales. However, the retail sector is not known for being dynamic, even if a competitor is gaining ground. Hence, the biggest challenge for retailers is to instill confidence in the new technologies. 

Last but not least, the applications of automation are endless. What overwhelms retailers most is where to begin? Which department to automate first? Moreover, the elephant in room still remains the internal resource crunch while all departments are automating their processes. 

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