Automating the Shopping Experience
By Dan Yi & Si Si
Shopping, also known as retail therapy to some, can become a nightmare during peak hours and shopping seasons.Hassle-free and enhanced shopping experiences may soon be the norm when robots are at the helm of store operations.
Scan and Go
Advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (Al) drive the core of business functions and underpin the creation and adoption of new business models. Increasingly. implementing high-functioning automation that encompasses all business processes is key to long-term success.
A wave of cashierless stores swept into the United States in 2016. Amazon launched its Just Walk Out technology through the Amazon Go app: At the high-tech convenience store Amazon Go. customers scan their phones at the door, gather their desired items, and exit the store; the charges for their purchases are automatically applied to their account.
Video images and cloud calculation will analyze the selected products and park the items into a virtual shopping cart. Customers only need to log in to check the bill before the credit deduction takes place. This new retail concept reduces the need for cashiers as well as customer wait time.
Revolutionary Retail Experience
The explosion of business technology over the last decade has been characterized by an intense focus on automation and efficiency. Retailers use automation in different capacities to positively enhance retail experiences.
In 2016 Autobahn Motors, an automobile dealership in Singapore, built a 15-story car vending machine to house 60 cars from luxury brands. Customers can easily access product information and select their desired vehicle via a touchscreen panel. The chosen vehicle is subsequently delivered in rapid fashion — in less than 30 minutes.
Purchasing a luxury car conveniently through a vending machine saves time as customers need not deal with a salesperson and fill out time-consuming forms. Furthermore, privacy of customers’ information is kept safe.
Chase Walker Hotel in Taichung, Taiwan opened in October 2016 and features self-service check-in kiosks and luggage-carrying robots. This largely automated system lowers the cost of accommodation and appeals especially to young people and backpackers. The hotel’s founders hope that by employing greater automation, staff will spend more time and energy in areas that involve creative planning and online marketing.
One of China’s largest e-commerce platforms is JD.com. It is one of the most automated fulfilment centers in Asia and piloted the delivering of packages by drone in 2016. The aim is to extend reach to remote areas or where land transport is too expensive or slow. Delivery robots surfaced in 2018. The red-and-white automated robots are JD’s latest driverless vehicles designed to improve its delivery service. Large-scale service is being carried out in tertiary institutions and closed-off industrial communities.
User Experience Matters
One of the greatest concerns about automated retail services is the downsizing of corporations leading to an increase in the unemployment rate.
However, as Amazon higher-value in actual fact, companies such Go continue to hire staff for work. Instead of attending to mundane needs, they give advice to patrons on products and their purchases or guide them around the store. There is a closer relationship and better interaction between staff and customers.
Park Avenue Rochester, a business hotel in Singapore. currently uses two robots for its housekeeping and food & beverage operations. These robots merely allow jobs to be upgraded, freeing staff to focus on improving customer experience, which is of utmost importance.
The focus has shifted to an experiential-based retail model which sees customers visiting stores for the overall experience. One of the ways for Al to make a meaningful impact on businesses is by being used for new services that can make the physical shopping experience more enjoyable than ever before. In the 21st century, automation is putting a whole new spin on retail therapy.