AUTOMATED SALES STORES – THE FUTURE OF PRODUCT ACCESS POINT
The Internet of Things is bringing intelligence to devices across the globe at an alarming rate and intelligent vending is quickly taking root in the retail landscape.
A study on retail automation showed that the market is expected to be worth more than $18.9 billion by 2023, expanding at acompound annual growth rate of more than 10.9% between this year and 2023, according to new market research from Research and Markets.
It is the consumers who now define the new rules of retail. Long gone are the days where shopping was constrained by shop opening hours; today the global market is 24/7. Unfortunately for retailers, however, goods cannot be delivered via fibre optics.
As a multitude of interactive options and technologies have emerged, so too have consumer expectations for a flexible, seamless shopping experience. Personalized, consistent service across all touch points of a business, is no longer a mere differentiator of choice, but a must-have. While online retail - driven by adoption of smartphones and tablets has taken a firm hold across the retail industry, more customer-centric Omni-channel strategies are now at the heart of retailers’ business plans.
At FILUET GROUP, we believe that the Direct Selling industry has much to benefit from technological innovations such as automated product access points.
More and more retailers are enabling customers to choose how, when and where they interact and purchase by offering a combination of websites, mobile applications, catalogues, call centres, physical stores and kiosks. Click and Collect fulfilment services and in-store internet based ordering terminals are increasingly used to converge sales channels and avoid queueing. To satisfy the higher demands of today’s savvy consumers, retailers implement appropriate supply chain management and analytical tools to allow measurement of activity and ROI (Return on Investment) for customers using more than one channel. Successful Omni-channel retailers drive all sales channels using the same database of consumers, products, pricing and promotions to provide a seamless interactive experience for its customers regardless of channel. There are countless benefits to Omni-channeling; however there are also many challenges. Integrating technology platforms is an inherently complex and lengthy process. As a result, many retailers remain paralyzed and unable to implement simple capabilities despite customer demand. On the operational side, in-store staff members - on hourly pay - are expected to be more than sales representatives; they are also product evangelists, customer services advocates and distribution experts.
Automated retail provides brands with an intuitive, discreet and highly engaging solution that goes beyond traditional vending. The new breed of automated retail stores does not only provide secure, around-the-clock product access, but these storeowners also know who is viewing which products. They also monitor market trends, automatically order products when supplies run low, dispense items from shopping list that have been assembled online or via a mobile device, accept online, e-wallet, credit card, and cash payments and dispense change. More importantly, automated retail stores can also serve as an effective “last mile” delivery solution. Local pick-up stations are essential tools in improving customer convenience and are key for future growth via e-commerce. Direct Selling corporations across the globe are already implementing innovation in this space through the use of drop-box solutions.
Automated retail is a natural extension to any Web store, and it empowers the customer to make their convenience. As a standalone product access solution, the Automated retail store furthers as fundamental new approach to retailing and to ‘last mile’ distribution, while providing organizations an inexpensive way to test new points of sale that were previously inaccessible.
In direct selling industry, where controlled access to products is paramount, an automated retail store can serve as a convenient product access point for distributors, providing a 24/7, multilingual, pleasant, uniform and efficient ordering experience and giving the sellers an opportunity to build their brand awareness.
By placing Automated Retail at the heart of their commerce strategy, direct sellers can unify online and in-store siloes across all areas of its business and culture, adopt a lighter, more agile footprint and adapt to an ever-changing world that is increasingly becoming more connected.
Alex Rashkovan, (Founder & Chairman, FILUET Group)