In the Polish market, retail companies of all sizes mainly focus on mobile applications. The first of them appeared in the fashion industry, the next several years ago in the food industry. Today, almost all dynamic stores and discounters, like Biedronka, have mobile applications that allow consumers to buy or view products at home. These types of solutions combine all channels and touchpoints between customer and brand into a cohesive buying process. It is therefore not surprising that the share of mobile commerce in sales revenue is increasing.
– In today’s highly competitive environment, having a mobile application is essential for companies to meet customer needs and adjust their development direction. They are the key to other services offered by the company and allow a whole new type of purchase, such as Scan & Go. Therefore, more and more retail players decide to bear the costs of its implementation. square. Small merchants typically use out-of-the-box solutions and customize apps to suit their business needs. The bigger ones, like Żabka or Lidl, are investing in custom apps that are much more expensive, but also fancy – says Krzysztof Heyda, digital product consultant, Future Mind.
The direction of maintenance-free
In recent years, the need to maintain distance and comfort in shopping has increased. Customers don’t want to stand in line and waste valuable time. Merchants have therefore accelerated the installation of self-service checkouts. Biedronka and Lidl already have almost 4,000 of them. Therefore, they are standard in the food industry, but their operation still leaves much to be desired. Paying at a self-service checkout sometimes takes longer than at a traditional checkout, which discourages customers. In addition, consumers often face technical problems and have to ask staff for help.
– The human aspect is extremely important in self-service checkouts – trained staff who can help the customer. Apart from the technological issues, these cash registers often lack the customer support process – the person assigned to them. Technology itself is therefore not the solution to the problem. Everything must be well thought out, and maintenance-free investments also include this element – explains Krzysztof Heyda.
The trend followed by the development of self-checkout technology is also RFID. It has been correctly used, for example, at Decathlon. Since he is the producer of most of the clothes he sells, the company sews RFID tags into the clothes or puts them on tags as part of the production process. This means that the clothes placed in the basket are scanned and automatically added to the invoice. When you reach the checkout, all you have to do is pay. The disadvantage of this solution is that in stores selling products from different manufacturers, RFID must be placed on the goods by store personnel, which generates additional costs.
QR codes – a technology that will not die
Many trade experts say QR codes are a technology that is on the verge of death. At the same time, more and more recent implementations show that it is a proven solution that is always up to date. QR codes have found a new lease of life in 2020, as the pandemic has rekindled demand for contactless solutions. Menu cards with this solution have appeared in bars and restaurants around the world. But that’s just one of its many uses. Another is, for example, fast payments. WeChat Pay – Chinese implementation, bases its entire system on QR codes. From a user perspective, the solution does not require any infrastructure, all you need is an app with a bank account attached. When shopping, the user enters the amount they wish to pay, scans the code and transfers the money to the recipient.
– What is valuable in QR technology is above all its simplicity and its low implementation costs. Anyone can generate this code, and everyone has a tool that will allow them to read it. There is no need to download a special app for this, just scan the code which takes the customer to the appropriate page. This is what makes the strength of this technology – underlines the expert from Future Mind.
The future of AI is an efficient supply chain
Artificial intelligence is currently used primarily to provide customers with recommendations and complementary products. One of the directions that AI technology will follow in trading is forecasting. Such solutions are already offered in China by the Missfresh chain. Its approach to food sourcing is based on using artificial intelligence to maintain tight control of supply chains while managing last mile operations. The idea is to avoid spoiling the products before delivering them to customers. Missfresh also tries to help the farmers it works with anticipate demand for their produce. He alerts them to demand well in advance so they can match the type and amount of food grown to what Missfresh customers want to buy.
A revolution in logistics
Fast deliveries are also gaining in importance. This is mainly the consequence of two factors: the pandemic which has moved a large part of commerce to the Internet and the development of q-commerce. Żabka has already introduced Delio – a service of the “same day express delivery” model, which is distinguished by fast delivery, a wide range based on local products and competitive prices. The next step will be to allow customers to make in-app purchases and have them delivered within hours. Consumers expect big retailers to deliver them within 3 hours, as smaller corner stores can do it nimble and much faster. Technology is helpful in the whole process and what is not seen by the customers and is important for their experience, i.e. the back of the stores. Equally important is the operation of warehouses and the fact that robots are working there more and more often. Such solutions are already standard in the Amazon network, where modern machines help employees fulfill orders, which determines the speed of delivery.
– In the next 10 years, physical stores will probably not only be a shopping destination, but both a showroom and a collection point. This is how Amazon Fresh works in the United States. Chain customers don’t even have to get out of the car – staff pack their purchases into the trunk and the consumer drives off. More retailers will have to follow this trend, summarizes Krzysztof Heyda of Future Mind.