Technology has revitalised e-commerce retail, with trading growing by 23% each year. Whilst this is great news, retailers are beginning to struggle attracting customers to their physical stores. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean that online shopping is rivalling the in-store experience. Retailers are beginning to consider how these technologies can be used to increase footfall into their stores.
Robotics and AI are the most obvious choice for retail due to the current excitement surrounding it. AI is developing at a rapid pace meaning the capabilities of the technology are growing by the day. AI assistants and robots are beginning to be deployed into situations to increase the efficiency of the in-store experience. Here are six examples already disrupting the retail sector.
The most well-known robot from our list is telecommunications company, Softbank’s Pepper. Designed as a human companions, Pepper can identify human emotions and communicate irrespectively of this. Used in over 10,000 stores across the globe, Pepper can be used to greet customers, answer questions, offer directions – even chat to shoppers.
Pepper is the perfect robotic customer assistant. The robot increases efficiency by dealing with simpler tasks, freeing up other members of the team to deal with more complex requests. Within one week of deployment in a store in Palo Alto, a 70% footfall increase was recorded, demonstrating the intrigue and curiosity a robotics assistant can cause.
OSHBot is a customer assistant robot, created by Fellow Robotics, deployed in Orchard Supply Hardware stores in some Californian stores. The robot incorporates a touchscreen customers can use to check the store’s stock list as well as leading users to the product’s location.
Earlier this year, a robot created by Simbe Robotics named ‘Tally’ was trialed in some Target stores in San Francisco. Using sensors Tally can autonomously navigate stores and stockrooms, scanning products to determine any errors or if the store is running low on stock.
Theft is an obvious and recurring issue for many retailers. Many items, like CDs, DVDs and tech accessories, are easy target due to their ease of concealment. Stores have begun to seal them in plastic boxes, or heavily secure them with tags and alarms, however, this is beginning to prevent customers from actually purchasing the items. Best Buy have introduced ‘Chloe’ to combat this issue. Instead of finding shop staff to assist you, Chloe acts like a vending machine and can retrieve products for you, like a vending machine.
Gordon is a robotic arm in San Francisco that is the world’s first robotic barista, with the ability to serve around 120 coffees per hour. Customers can order their coffee by approaching the booth or using a mobile app. Customers can choose from a range of 7 different drinks priced between $2.25 and $2.95. After choosing their flavour preference and entering their mobile number, customers will be given a 4-digit code to pay and will receive a text message when their order is ready. Gordon was introduced to significantly reduce waiting times in coffee shops. The robotic arm attracts intrigue, is more time efficient and, most importantly, won’t get your name wrong.
Self-driving shopping trolleys may be another technology we could see in our future supermarkets. Shoppers will programme the cart’s journey using their shopping list. The cart will the lead customers through their shopping experience, avoiding other customers and trolleys. Whilst the idea may be… questionable, US-based multinational retailer, Walmart, actually patented an automated trolley design back in December. There are no concrete plans or any suggestions of a possible release date, however. But, the specifications do offer us a glimpse of what our supermarkets may look like.
Retail is experiencing massive digital disruption. These six technologies are just some examples of how the retail sector is beginning to deploy emerging technologies, with the digital disruption forecast to continue well into the next few years.
If you would like to learn more about what current emerging technologies can do for your business, speak to one of our digital experts today. B60 offer consultancy, development and support to those businesses ready to become part of the digital disruptuon.