Some time ago, I tried to bring you closer to several the hottest technological trends for 2020. Today, I would like to return to this alphabetical enumeration and present some more noteworthy trends. Many of you are probably already using them, but a lot of you still are not familiar with them. Is it worth it? I hope that my “review” today will help to dispel these doubts. Let’s get started.
Slowly and shyly, Voice Commerce is taking further steps in the world of retail every year, making its presence felt stronger and stronger. For many people, especially those who are digitally sceptical, it still resembles science fiction, but there is no need to fool yourself – the facts speak for themselves.
First of all, the biggest Internet companies invest millions of dollars in so-called voice assistants. Google Assistant, Alex, Cortan, Bixby or Siri – you don’t have to introduce them to anyone. Companies that use voice assistants each month launch new languages, the manufacturers of these ‘smart tools’ are constantly striving to raise their quality and functionality to an ever higher level, and the way they interact with them is more and more like natural human dialogue.
Secondly, voice commerce is becoming an undeniable fact and almost everyone can experience it. If you use Google maps to say to your smartphone “find an open pizza restaurant in the area”, you will receive a list of restaurants that are open at the moment, located near us. We may not have bought pizza this way yet, but in many cases we are only three clicks away from it, which means that sooner or later it will become a routine for us. How can you be so sure? In the USA, companies such as 7-Eleven or Walmart have already launched voice ordering services, and this means that the so-called “rest of the world” will also do so, but, as usual, with some delay.
Scheduling is the daily nightmare of every store owner or manager, as well as those managing retail chains. Although the topic does not seem to be tempting at all, it is quite easy to see that there is great potential in it.
Ensuring continuity of shop operation requires very complex scheduling of personnel events. It is no secret that work on the shop floor is often treated as casual, as it allows for reconciling work with other activities such as learning. As a result, filling several posts is a real challenge and requires the employment of even a dozen or so people, and it becomes even impossible to put together a schedule, especially since in one view one also has to include days off, sick leaves, holidays, commercial and non-commercial Sundays or extended working hours. When we add to this the need to keep an eye on the dates of periodic examinations, health and safety training, sanitary and epidemiological tests – it turns out that creating a schedule during the year requires scheduling hundreds of events for each of the tens, hundreds, and even thousands of employees. And that is not the end of it – once a month you have to settle the hours worked by each employee, and several times a year you have to give him a holiday and find a temporary replacement for him.
The second area where scheduling is crucial is promotional campaigns. An ordinary convenience store operating on the network has such actions at least several times a week. This involves the need to issue promotional materials, new prices and tags on goods on a specified date, implement a new version of the planogram, replenish stock in the warehouse, document the completion of tasks – and then complete the campaign within a specified deadline.
The third area, just as inconspicuous at first glance, is the surveillance of periodic inspections. In a medium-sized 150 m2 shop, there can be as many as several dozen of them every year: fire extinguishers, electrical, chimney, gas and ventilation installations forklift trucks, elevators, anti-burglary systems, sanitary, heating and cooling installations… all this requires constant supervision.
What needs to be said straightforwardly and emphasized strongly is the fact that the technological offer in the scope described above is not very broad. For a single store, the staff scheduling area is quite supportive of planDay app. All three groups of schedules comprehensively support shopManager mobile application. Given the complexity of these areas and the huge market needs in this area, it is an area that has great potential and can provide a technological advantage and thus the brand’s survival.
Internet of Things in shops is quite difficult to grasp, but the number of “talking” devices in the shop space is steadily increasing. It is still an area of only point-like innovations (like customer positioning beacons in space, smart baskets, smart shelves about which Nielsen has prepared a separate report whether solutions like Amazon’s JustWalkOut). However, it has great potential, which will certainly not wait long before it is fully exploited. Although it is difficult to talk about a standardised platform, the first cornerstones have been laid, if only because of the relatively new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard and about its applications you can read about a handful of interesting facts here.
One thing is certain – the value of this market today reaches 15 billion USD, and according to analysts, this value is expected to double by 2025.
I am convinced that both these and the previously discussed trends have the potential to change the retail industry beyond recognition. What will it be like? We will find out soon, but one thing is certain – the sooner we notice it, the bigger share of what’s good we will get.
The author of the article is Bartłomiej Łatka, an expert on retail and logistics.
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