The retail landscape is rapidly evolving, as is the landscape of Point of Sale (POS) technologies. However, it is the nature of technology to evolve. POS systems have been changing since the introduction of manual cash registers, and their reinvention continues to grow exponentially today.
Just a few years ago, the front-end checkout at a retail grocer consisted of traditional checkouts, with small areas dedicated to self-checkout. Today, there are more checkout options available to consumers, including self-checkout and other self-service options like Retail Business Services’ proprietary ScanIt frictionless checkout and payment solution. ScanIt enables customers to shop for their products and walk out of the store, skipping the checkout line.
"To win in the everchanging retail marketplace, retailers must engage with consumers on their terms"
To win in the ever-changing retail marketplace, retailers must engage with consumers on their terms. However, several challenges lie in the way. One challenge is trying to simultaneously serve a variety of demographics including: age, ethnicity, geography and socioeconomic status. For example, amajor shift in shopping patterns and consumer engagement is caused age. Generation X and older generations had to adapt to technology as it was introduced becausethey weren’t born in a digital age. Older segments of the population may not be comfortable engaging with retailers digitally or through a mobile device.
On the other hand, Generation Y,Millennial, and younger generations are far more likely to shop this way, as technology has been a part of their lives since they were
very young.Millennial and younger generations also tend to lack direct access to personal transportation, and to live in urban areas where public transportation is readily available. Their shopping trips are more frequent, with smaller basket sizes that lend themselves to newer shopping trends like picking up at stores, home delivery or frictionless checkout, which they adopt more easily.
What does this mean for the retail grocer?Providing flexible checkout options is critical.As consumer demographics continue to change, it’s expected that less traditional checkout lanes will be needed, while demand for self-service options will increase. The challenge we must face to support this shift is speed.
Astore front end in a constant state of construction is not feasible, and flexible POS solutions will be the key to differentiation in a crowded retail grocery landscape. The ability to quickly transform the front end of a store from one with traditional checkout lanes to one with self-service, frictionless, and potentially biometric checkout will be a key to success. At Retail Business Services, we launched a flexible solution, which transforms from a full-service checkout to a self-checkout in seconds. The solution has been well-received by the grocery brands we support, as well as enhanced the in-store consumer experience.
Hardware agnostic software solutions, where many different vendors’ software will run on differenthardware platforms,are also a necessary step in this evolution. The days of having a software POS solution for 10 to 20 years are long gone. IT organizations and retail partners need to be ready to make changes often, perhaps as often as multiple times a year. Solutions will need to be component-based and modular,allowing for rapid and simple transformations. These solutions will allow the consumer and the retailer to adjust shopping experiences based on real-time demand.
It’s clear that engagement trends will continue to shift for retail grocery and that flexibility will be the key to staying relevant in the market place. We must shift engagement methods as consumer demographics change, and do so in a way that is cost effective. It’s not enough to have high quality, fresh products – you must also meet the customer where they are.