Customer shopping habits have been continually changing in recent years, but a prevailing theme, particularly among millennial shoppers, is the desire for a speedy, convenient shopping experience. To capitalize on that trend, stores are implementing a hybrid model involving both human sales associates and technology.
One way retailers are simplifying the process of in-store shopping is by experimenting with a variety of self-checkout methods. Amazon Go, for one example, lets customers of its grocery stores to simply pick up the items they want and walk out of the store, with sensors detecting their purchases and auto-charging their Amazon Prime accounts. No checking out necessary, no interaction with sales associates required.
The fashion world has taken a page from Amazon’s playbook, and some are trying out similar “frictionless” checkout methods of their own. According to Fashion and Mash, New York fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff added a self-checkout component in her SoHo location which automates the checkout process for shoppers using digital point of sale terminals.
Such innovations seek to replicate the online shopping experience in a brick-and-mortar store, where shoppers can remain somewhat anonymous and only enlist the help of store associates if they so choose.
Many retailers have already begun replacing traditional cash register-based checkouts with mobile terminals, and Uwe Hennig, CEO of retail software vendor Detego, told Fashion and Mash that he envisions a future where the checkout process can even be done from fitting rooms.
“These will allow consumers to try on clothes, but also browse and choose other accessories, styles or sizes and request sales staff bring them directly to the fitting room, as well as checkout themselves.”
Balancing Convenience with Experience
Of course, in an era where in-store experience has taken center stage, the movement to introduce such technology in-store flies somewhat in the face of the building push for memorable experiences and personalized service, and retailers are divided on whether the self-help method is for them. Retailers are looking to strike a balance between offering the convenience of online shopping in-store and the level of service that today’s shoppers expect at a retail store.
The likely future of this automation model will probably vary in execution based on the brand. Luxury retailers will likely continue to emphasize the human touch element while fast fashion retailers, for which the convenience aspect of shopping is perhaps better suited, may be more likely to embrace the human-less shopping model.
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