It’s great having so many technologies available to us. How else would we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine measures!
Let’s take an inside look at what actual value these technologies bring to retailers and eateries. And where it all will eventually lead us.
Small restaurants & bakeries were stopped cold. They had to close down. So the obvious way to proceed was to focus on takeaway orders through delivery services.
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Shifting to online orders is not that difficult from a technology point of view. But it requires a new business flow to be implemented. Once going online, you will no longer have such an option as:
“Let me check to see if there’s any tuna salad left.” Placing an “available” option online means you have to be able to deliver everything you offer.
So it’s all about the automated menu and inventory management systems. Moreover, coronavirus pushes restaurants into the grocery business and meal kits delivery.
Such changes force restaurants to automate the process. Good news — they don’t have tens of thousands of products to manage.
Still, business transformation is necessary. Even after the World will be back on track, the question of how to be prepared for the next crisis will remain.
Some might say that being a grocery store from around the corner is a sweet spot these days. According to research, spending on groceries has grown by up to 40%.
Instead of going to a restaurant, we put on a mask and visit the nearest open store or choose online ordering, which is another growing niche.
Anyway, a boost in sales seems to be temporary for local grocery stores as the lockdown will eventually end. Moreover, we haven’t seen many changes in the way they do business. Besides, there’s competition from delivery services. For example, Walmart brings 2-hour delivery.
According to ComCash ERP CEO, Richard Stack, many of small to medium retailers, groceries and liquor stores were using ERPs and inventory management systems long before the crisis.
But many of them were not operating online actively. After March 2020, things changed, and now the implementation of e-stores is the most in-demand service.
Getting online seems like a necessary, but not sufficient solution. It’s a bit of a different business with its own rules, marketing budgets, and technologies.
What we learned from our retail clients — they know their customer journey in detail. And apply technologies exactly to those cases where it could be most valuable to customers.
With the end of COVID-19, there’s going to be a shift in customer behavior. Perhaps, not that huge as some predict, but still enough to make an impact.
These people are visionaries who can see what customers will look for tomorrow and provide them with value and service.
Here are some use cases of how trending technologies in retail could impact customers.
The Canadian winery brought its customers an augmented experience to stand out from the crowd. Users have to point the camera at the wine label to see AR scenes and get additional information about the product.
Also, retailers use augmented reality for marketing and branding — virtual instructions, presentations, and online fitting rooms.
ChatBots are not that hard to bring onboard. There’s plenty of ready to use solutions. But let’s be realistic — chatbots can not replace real customer service (yet).
It can, however, speed up service and increase engagement. For example, a chatbot can suggest additional goods to your customers, help to navigate and perform checkouts. According to most analytics, the revenue generated with chatbots’ help is growing and will continue to grow in the future.
Clients have changed during COVID-19. Probably, many people will avoid crowded lines. Thus, SmartTab POS brings a different experience with its customer mobile application.
Since the app is integrated with the bar’s point of sales solution, it reduces interactions between bartenders and visitors. The idea is to let customers open and close their tabs, make payments through the app with zero interpersonal communication.
Machine learning application in retail is another dominant technology trend. It often sounds complicated and expensive.
And in most scenarios, it is really complicated, costly, and not needed for small or medium retailers. Still, there are cases when it could bring value. For example, you can detect and identify your visitors if you have their photos by utilizing face recognition technology.
But make sure that they are ok with it. From a technology perspective, the task to match visitors’ faces with your database is not that complicated. But it could give significant personalization to the in-store experience.
Any crisis can force business owners to seek change. 100% of our retail-related clients have adjusted priorities for product development.
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A few of them put products on hold in order to save resources. Most of them took steps toward reprioritization and now focus their efforts on an online presence, automation, AI analytics, and advanced interactions with customers.
As you might see, there’s nothing new among those priorities. It feels like this crisis will boost prior existing technology trends, not necessarily bringing new ones.
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