In December last year, Amazon announced the debut of its new bricks and mortar store, Amazon Go. This is a grocery store with a difference – its innovative technology means that customers can shop and pay for their purchases without scanning any items or queuing at the checkout. Customers can simply pick up items off the shelves, put them in a bag, and walk out. Everything is tracked using the customer’s Amazon account and smartphone, and cameras inside the shop. The video below explains how it works in more detail:
This sounds like the ultimate in shopping convenience, and if it all works out in the US we may well see similar shops here in the UK. Amazon Go could be setting the trend for a whole new way of shopping.
New Technology For UK Retailers
But what does this mean for high street retailers? Technology such as this may sound fit for the domain of supermarket giants only, but it could be a way for smaller businesses to obtain a competitive edge. And it may all seem a way off yet, but it’s only a matter of time before leading UK retailers take the next step towards scan-free, queue-free shopping.
If you’re still not convinced, consider the other technology that has slowly been introduced to supermarkets and smaller local convenience stores. For example, Tesco was the first supermarket to roll out self-service checkouts in its stores, in 2003. Waitrose then introduced a self-scanning system in 2006, enabling customers to scan products as they walk around the store, pack them into their bags, and pay for them at the checkout with no need to unpack or scan them again. Amazon Go isn’t such a far cry from this – the main differences being that the need to scan products is eliminated, and products are automatically charged to the customer’s Amazon account.
Improving Your Existing Technology
But what other technology may be available to retailers? Let’s get back to basics, and think about the technology that is already in shops and how it could be improved. What is your point of sale (POS) system like? If your staff are typing numbers into a till rather than scanning barcodes using a more modern POS, is it time to upgrade? A change such as this could make the checkout process faster for customers and also help you to better manage your inventory. What about security cameras? Staff and customer safety is a high priority for every business, and if your security systems aren’t up to scratch this is more important than introducing self-scan checkouts, beacon technology, or even retail service robots. So while the latest in IT and robotics may be too much of an indulgence for SMEs, there may still be ways that you could benefit from investing in more modern retail tech.
Is it Worth It?
However, new technology might not always be a worthwhile investment. The success of something like Amazon Go depends on the location of the store, its target market, the type of products it sells, the brand, and many other factors. Would your customers be receptive to new technology, or do they prefer a human touch? This may depend on the demographic of your customers – for some, shopping may be a way of socialising and connecting with familiar staff in their local convenience store. You may find technology impinges on the human touch that you and your customers both hold in high regard. But other people may simply want to buy their products and leave as quickly as possible, and welcome any technological advancement that facilitates this.
Another barrier for retailers is of course cost. For any new technology you are considering for your shop, it’s important to think about the associated costs and benefits. How much outlay will you need, and how will it affect your profits, in terms of real figures? Is it going to be affordable for you?
Arkle Finance can help you to fund the new technology you need to help your shop remain competitive. Whether you want to upgrade your POS, improve your security, or tackle something more adventurous, we are on hand to advise you on the right financial product to modernise your business. Call 01933 304791 or contact us online using the form on the right.