Retail Technology for the Curious and the Cautious

retail technology

Retailers are constantly being told to innovate and offer the latest and greatest technology in their stores whenever possible. While retail technology can move the needle on critical KPIs, change can also intimidate customers who are hesitant to try new technology.

At the same time, avoiding innovation can disassemble customer loyalty when curious, tech-savvy customers try out stores with more advanced offerings and end up becoming loyal to the latter. This can mislead retailers towards investing in the wrong technology for their customer base.

So how do you accommodate both sides of the spectrum, and which technologies can calm the cautious shoppers while still exciting the curious ones?

Introducing New Retail Technology to Consumers

One example of the latest innovation in retail technolpogy comes from Amazon’s latest announcement regarding the implementation of Just Walk Out technology in a full-size Amazon Fresh grocery store. In this store, all grocery items, ranging from meat and pre-made meals to produce and pastries, can be purchased by simply leaving the store. This technology eliminates the need for a checkout line by using computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to charge shoppers for their purchases without scanning of any kind.

This announcement excited many consumers worldwide and plenty of U.S. shoppers are interested in trying it. Of the shoppers who did test out Just Walk Out with Amazon, 76% preferred it to the traditional store format, according to a survey from Inmar Intelligence. The same survey found that 54% of shoppers expected this new type of store to succeed as ecommerce grows.

While Amazon Go stores across the country are popular, some customers are hesitant to try out this new shopping experience. In fact, 43% of U.S. consumers indicated that they would not visit an Amazon Go location or utilize Just Walk Out technology if it was in their community, according to a survey from PiplSay. Furthermore, 59% of shoppers actually classified this technology as a threat to their local grocers. The secret to success for retailers in the coming years will be finding the sweet spot between exciting and innovative and overwhelming and complex technology.

Solutions for Traditional, Progressive Shoppers

For the shoppers who are looking to try new retail technology and prioritize faster, frictionless experiences, stores need to offer enough innovation to keep them from migrating to a more progressive store. This could mean offering pop-up shops to test out new technologies, creating a mobile app with loyalty programs or implementing optional alternative shopping methods like mobile scanning.

For the more traditional shoppers, however, there are easy-to-adopt and user-friendly solutions like buy-online-pick-up-in-store or QR Code scanning that shoppers with any level of technological understanding can adapt to for a more seamless shopping journey. To avoid any issues in the transition to a digital-first outlook, it’s important that retailers have an experienced associate nearby to assist confused shoppers until they are comfortable with the new format.

Making Technology Accessible for Every Customer

In-store and online technology does not have to be intimidating or exclusive. With the right solutions for the target audience, retail technology can successfully improve store processes without losing customers from either side of the digital spectrum. Investing in the right technology can help businesses stay ahead of the curve without leaving anyone behind.

Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Software