To many consumers, the future of being able to walk into a store, pull something off of a shelf and leave without the hassle of the checkout process sounds like Jetsons-futuristic-type stuff. Not having to waste time in line when you have a thousand other errands to run creates that frictionless shopping experience that your customers are craving. That experience called unattended retail, which is enabled by an array of self-service and AI technology, is already here and over the next five years, it's projected to be a $13B (*£10.6B) industry.
The Stage Has Been Set
Unattended retail has evolved in recent years from simple vending machines, interactive kiosks and many other payment-enabled machinery to a more technically sophisticated landscape; one filled with artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things and phigipay, the intersection of physical, digital and payments.
More and more, technology is enabling frictionless commerce and there are plenty of examples of how it is currently providing value to consumers. For example, Uber lets consumers get a ride to wherever they want to go without ever having to pull out their wallet to pay. Your customers are growing used to this type of stress-free experience and, as a result, they are spending their money at the places that understand how they want to shop.
Unattended retail is an answer to this rallying cry and it provides significant revenue-generating benefits to you as well, including:
Unattended retail done right is much more than just seamlessly integrating the checkout process into the shopping experience or enabling a restaurant customer to submit their order without standing in line. Because customers enrolled in your loyalty program may permit you to acquire data about their purchases, you can personalize your customer's shopping experiences even more while they’re right there in the store with specific offers that complement their buying preferences.
Not having to staff employees during your hours of operations results in a cost savings that could go straight to your bottom line. Having the flexibility to reallocate staffing and potentially lowering labor expenses opens up opportunities to extend your hours of operation, generating revenue, meaning more cash in your pocket.creating more.
Reduces Shrinkage Concerns
Contrary to what you may think, if implemented properly, unattended retail can lower the instances of shrinkage because the technology provides real-time inventory tracking. When a consumer removes an item from the shelf, it’s logged by the system.
A Prime Example
To help wrap your mind around the future of retail, look at Amazon Go, a brick and mortar retail and grocery store powered by Amazon, which allows shoppers to "Grab and Go" without ever having to wait in line to pay for their items. This is the type of unattended retail sophistication that has the potential to become mainstream. Amazon Go is currently being piloted with three stores. Another 3,000 are planned to open by 2021. The business case for Amazon Go stores looks bright. RBC Capital Market analysts recently estimated that Amazon Go unattended retail stores brought in about 50 percent more revenue on average than a convenience store.
A Competitive Advantage According to Industry Experts
CEO of the Millennium Project, Jerome Glenn said, "Stores that don't offer the ease of checkout-free shopping and personalized tips customers want may struggle to compete."
Global Payments is facilitating “Grab and Go” commerce opportunities in an unattended retail setting through its phigipay capabilities, which enable seamless digital payments, loyalty and stored value integration, while optimizing its unified commerce platforms to support new payment flows and methods of identifying consumers via card, mobile and QR-based solutions.
Brick-and-mortar retail disruption in the form of unattended retail is just around the corner. Are you ready to get into the game?
* GBP values calculated at currency exchange rates from 23 August 2019.