10 reasons why you should be exploring autonomous stores

Jimmy Taylor, Red Badger’s Business Development Director, explores ten reasons why you should be exploring autonomous stores as we head into 2023 and beyond.

Just Walk Out

Disruption in retail is rife, and the past decade has transformed the way that the sector operates with different technologies, consumer habits and customer expectations shaping the industry. However as stated by Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show: “If you want to talk about disruptive, game changing, headline grabbing technologies over the past few years, they don't get much bigger than Just Walk Out.”

Autonomous stores

For those not yet familiar with autonomous stores, they are cashier-less stores that don’t require a human presence for a customer to check out. Customers enter the store (either by scanning a mobile device or entering their credit card), pick up the items that they desire, and simply walk out of the store. Through a combination of cameras, sensors and deep learning tools, customers are automatically charged the amount for the products they have purchased.

The potential benefits are huge, and according to McKinsey’s Future of Retail Operations, autonomous stores are “likely to achieve EBIT margins twice those of today, with the added benefits of improved customer experience, better employee engagement, and an easier-to-run store”.

Jimmy Taylor, Red Badger’s Business Development Director, explores ten reasons why you should be exploring autonomous stores as we head into 2023 and beyond.

1. Provide your customers with a superior customer experience

Retailers are constantly grappling with delivering the best possible customer experience, and the evidence truly supports this. A recent study by PwC titled “Experience is Everything” found that 52% of customers say they will pay more for an experience that is speedy and efficient. By removing checkout lanes, queues and the need to self-scan any products, autonomous stores deliver a genuinely frictionless experience that makes shopping easy and convenient for customers.

2. Increased speed throughput

Dramatically speeding up the checkout process is a major advantage of autonomous stores, particularly where customers are in a rush and do not have time to queue at checkout. Examples of where this has already been successfully implemented using Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology include in travel venues such as the Hudson Nonstop store in Dallas Love Field Airport and the UBS Arena in New York. The end of those long halftime queues are in sight!

3. Capture better customer data

Autonomous stores offer retailers a whole new level of possibilities when it comes to customer data. As stated by Rebecca Hobbs of trends intelligence agency, Stylus: “Retailers can establish a system whereby consumers have to ‘sign in’ to a customer account to enter a shop, thus giving every in-store customer the same profile as online customers have, allowing brands in-store data and data on a customer from across both online and in store. This helps them to establish spending patterns and make stock and merchandising decisions.”

4. Navigate the labour shortage

Three-quarters of retail businesses have said they have experienced difficulties filling vacancies due to a shortage of workers, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) employment trends survey. Automated stores typically require less in-store staff, easing the pressure on the recruitment and retention of checkout staff.

5. Maximise the potential of your in-store staff

Removing the need for manned checkouts allows you to unlock the potential of your in-store staff. By eradicating a static checkout role, your staff can transform into genuine store advisors who can interact with customers and add even greater value to their customer experience.

6. Maximise floor space

By removing checkouts from stores, retailers are affording themselves more floor space for products. This is particularly key in travel hubs such as airports and train stations, where stores are typically small and space is at a premium. Space that was previously unused and unoccupied can therefore be monetised and used in a more efficient way.

7. Keep on top of shelves running low

Staying on top of shelf stock is crucial, and comes down to having the right product on the shelf, in the right quantity, of the right quality. The Global Path to Purchase Survey found that more than two-thirds of shoppers have walked out of a shop because it did not have the product they wanted. Autonomous stores remove the need for in-store staff to constantly manually check shelves. They use real-time insights into stock counts to create alerts for store managers when shelves are running low to restock those items.

8. Reduce shrinkage

The Retail Security in Europe “Going beyond Shrinkage” report, conducted by Crime&tech, shows that UK retailers are losing almost £11bn annually (the most of any country in Europe) through shrinkage, the term used to describe when a store has fewer items in stock than in its recorded book inventory. This is due to 1,000+ daily incidents of shoplifting, food waste, human error and soaring internal theft. By tracking everything that a user picks up, autonomous stores prevent theft and significantly reduce shrinkage.

9. Offer around the clock operations

The ability to offer round-the-clock operations is an attractive proposition for many businesses. For example, on a university campus where students don’t currently have access to round-the-clock shopping, staffless automated stores can allow students to carry out late-night shopping without the need for costly checkout and security staff.

10. Offer safe and contactless shopping

Since the pandemic, over one-third (34%) of Brits say that self-checkouts cause significant anxiety due to hygiene concerns and proximity to other shoppers. This is backed up by Dr. Adam Roberts, lead researcher on a recent study by the UK-based Infection Innovation Consortium: “The self-checkout samples had one of the highest bacterial loads, as we found five different types of potential disease-causing bacteria surviving on them”. Autonomous stores provide customers with a safe and contactless shopping experience by removing the need to touch self-checkout screens or bagging areas.

Red Badger is helping businesses prove the viability of Just Walk Out by delivering an evidenced-based case for impact, and a validated end-to-end customer experience in just 30 days.

Get in touch to find out more.

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