Is the MI retail industry ready for another disruption? MapsPeople’s Jonas Bersten looks at how the future of retail could be about to change thanks to Amazon’s new Go stores...
Amazon Go launching in the UK is set to disrupt the retail sector and how consumers shop in-store. Amazon announced the Amazon Go store will be using technology to create a shop with no check outs and no queues. Customers would walk in, take products off the shelves, and be able to simply leave the store. A bill would then be automatically charged to their Amazon account.
Up until now, technology has enabled brands to create new, fun and exciting ways to engage with their customers, and this new launch will be a turning point for retailers in creating new customer experiences and providing convenience in-store. Will we see retailers moving towards this type of robotic futuristic store? In a retail world where we are seeing an increase in stores closing and losing out to e-commerce websites, will this new store concept become a mainstream adoption by consumers and enable retailers to remain relevant while still offering a physical store.
As Amazon searches for its UK shop location for Amazon Go in London, there is much to question once it officially opens its doors as to how this will effect the traditional store model, as well as the impact it will have on consumers’ future retail shopping expectations.
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More particularly, how this will have effect on how consumers purchase their musical instruments from stores? Technology has already disrupted the music instrument retail industry by providing new ways for consumers to shop online with easy access to information, a multitude of delivery options and fast check out. Many retailers are now losing out on sales to online ecommerce that are providing a personalised online shopping experience.
With the launch of Amazon Go this may lead the way to a new disruption of the physical retail store. This may also be a wake up call for music instrument retailers to start realizing they must embrace new technologies and further develop the customer experience in store if they wish to continue to exist. It may just be a question of launching new retail concept stores that integrate technology and provide customers with added services, product information and convenience.
It will become essential for these retailers to integrate to some degree new technologies within their stores if they wish to appeal to customers in this tech/digital world we live in and remain relevant.
Below are some areas I think we will see a lot more of in the future:
Helping customers navigate easily
With access to online information consumers expect easy access to what they are searching for and when they search for it. Retailers could integrate built in app technology such as Indoor wayfinding that consumers can utilise to navigate inside a retail store. This type of technology takes the consumer from one particular point in the store to where the musical instrument he or she is searching for, can be found.
Additionally, indoor mapping technology built on google maps for example, such as our solution MapsIndoors, can provide outdoor and indoor navigation. Leading the customer directly from its home to the nearest store, and to where the product sits in that store, is an efficient way for ensuring nothing impedes the purchase process - including directional challenges faced when sourcing out the exact product in-store.
On the way the customer can also receive added information on special promotions happening as he/she walks by them. This type of technology is ideal in engaging customers with further products within the store, and pushing new products to consumers to discover while in-store.
See where customers spend most of their time in-store
Another useful technology that is still yet to be adopted by retailers is ‘hotspot coordination technology’. With this type of technology, retailers can track where customers have been in the store and shows the “hotspots” based on where they have spent a majority of their time whilst in the store. This permits retailers to gain greater insights into what is grasping the consumers attention or which product lines seen to appeal the most and can adapt product location based on the information provided.
Simplify customer experiences through smart shelf technology
This technology is all about simplifying the customer experience. For instance a customer would have predefined their product shopping list before, perhaps a particular brand they want to buy or accessories that go with that instrument. Instead of having that customer browse the whole section to try and find it, with smart shelves, that customer’s shopping list can be synchronised with the shelf and it will put a light under the category section within the store that the customer is interested in. Now combine this with indoor mapping technology and you’ve mainly simplified a whole new process for customers as soon as they enter the store.
Fast mobile payments
Smartphones have become the most used device for shopping for many consumers surpassing traditional retail shopping experience. Many more people buy online and with their phone devices. It’s about providing fast and convenient shopping. Retailers will need to look into integrating digital wallets as a payment option as more and more millennials are moving towards branchless banks.
Using AI to provide a personalised ‘in-store customer service assistant’
I think in the future AI will become a norm within most retailers. We will see an increase in AI robots providing personalised customer care and service. Though this technology still needs to be further developed wouldn’t it be great to enter a music store and have at your fingertips all you need, from added information on the product you are searching for, alternative products, costs, where to find it in store and probably able to pay it contactless via your mobile directly to the AI robot…?
Now, if retailers decided to implement just one of these technological trends, we would see a shift towards building the next generation of retail stores.
Jonas Berntsen is the CCO of MapsPeople – the leading provider of indoor navigation built with Google Maps. For more information visit www.mapspeople.com.