Customers are doing it for themselves. Tudor Andronic, Vice President Global Retail at Bizerba, provider of weighing and slicing technologies, says brick-and-mortar retailers will have to adopt a “self-anything” culture in the future.
How can scales, industrial weighing technologies, and modern food service equipment help to actively involve customers in the shopping process?
Mr. Andronic, what possibilities do digital networking and the Internet of Things offer as it pertains to weighing technology and food service equipment?
Rising standards of living and urbanization mean that retailers must forge a differentiated approach to ensure food access and also adopt a broader positioning strategy.
Situations like the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic impact consumer behavior and prompt changed hygiene measures/requirements. Brick-and-mortar retail is tasked with responding quickly and implementing new business models and processes such as ordering services and pickup solutions at short notice. Digital networking and IoT in weighing technology and food service equipment assist retailers in this endeavor thanks to faster communication and data flow across systems. They also facilitate better human-technology interaction. The devices provide information and warrant better demand planning and greater equipment availability. This, in turn, ensures continued food safety and availability.
What role will scales and weighing technology play in the store of the future and how can they help deliver an optimal customer experience?
The store of the future will feature increased customer interaction and an enhanced shopping experience. To attract customers into the store, they must be actively involved in the shopping process. Retailers can maintain customer interest by offering additional information such as recipes and tips, product recommendations, the chance to provide feedback, by running sweepstakes right at the device or via a customer display on the scale. Retailers also depend on cutting costs and lowering expenses as it relates to the shopping process. That’s why a network of connected smart systems and sensor technology – for example, in scales and weighing technology, smart shelves and slicing solutions – are key components of the store of the future and support the retailer and service staff.
You have been a long-time market observer and exhibitor at the EuroShop and EuroCIS trade fairs. Drawing on this extensive experience, what trend do you predict to see in brick-and-mortar retail in the next ten years?
There will be no pure brick-and-mortar retail in the future because it is essential for all retailers to have an online presence to boost their visibility, expand their reach, and leverage digital technologies to attract customers. At the same time, pure play in e-commerce has reached its limits. In the future, brick-and-mortar and online retail must deliver a combination of simplicity and convenience, and continued product availability to create a perfect customer experience.
I believe brick-and-mortar retail will even take things a step further. More specifically, there will be an increasing “self-anything” culture in the next ten years that actively involves consumers in the shopping process. This means that brick-and-mortar retailers should be ready to adopt self-scanning, self-checkout, self-service departments, self-payment checkout solutions, etc. Processes that don’t add value, that don’t enhance the customer experience, and are not intuitive, are eliminated.
Traditional checkout and payment processes, and pre-defined product compositions and product availability will be replaced or optimized by smart technologies. AI will play a key role in the quality of consulting services, competency, and digital signage. Products will increasingly be able to interact and communicate with customers.
To recap: Successful retailers create an extraordinary customer experience in the produce department, embrace digitization, and welcome the strengths and importance of e-commerce retailing.
Interview: Julia Pott, exclusively for EuroShop.mag