Industry experts and observers discuss the trend where consumer technologies are revolutionising instore retail environments
Since the widespread adoption of electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) systems, software, operating systems and applications, as well as printers, keyboards and cash drawers, many stores now also include touchscreens, portable and mobile devices, multimedia kiosks and displays.
This year's annual Retail Technology 'EPoS, instore technology and digital signage' report, has found particular emphasis on the integration and interoperability of such systems with the rest of the retailer’s infrastructure and developments around technology-enabled capabilities that provide greater flexibility or enhanced customer service levels up to, at and beyond the point of purchase.
Retail stores drive consumers online
To these aims, retail and banking technology provider, Wincor Nixdorf, recently announced the results of an independent study into consumer attitudes towards High Street and online shopping. Conducted by research house TNS, the survey shed some light on why more and more consumers are moving towards online retail, with 66% saying poor instore service has led them to favour online options. Looking closely at the instore experience, the survey also highlighted that customers want a choice of service options with manned checkout (60%) and self service (21%) being the most popular.
The study also revealed that, while the majority of consumers prefer manned checkouts, almost a third said they would abandon a purchase if they saw a long queue, and over half would wait no longer than eight minutes. This again highlights the need to combine queue-busting services, such as self-service with traditional points of sale. Over 20% of the consumers questioned believed retailers were getting this balance right and meeting the needs and expectations of shoppers. However, the majority also said more work was needed.
Ed Brindley, director of marketing at Wincor Nixdorf, explained: “While online shopping is a growing force, it’s interesting to see that the majority of shoppers still prefer manned desks. In this sense, the High Street is still very much king. Consumers want that personal service – the interaction between shopper and retailer. But similarly, they want to know that if there is a long queue, there will be options to speed up their experience.
"It’s all about finding the right balance between retail channels – successfully combining the likes of mobile and self-service with tradition point of sale. This kind of choice is what shoppers are looking for and the challenge for retailers is to achieve this. With the 2012 Olympics taking place in London, there is a huge opportunity for a boom in UK retail – finding the right instore strategy will be vital.”
Consumers remain unsure of mobile payments
Exploring further the issue of multichannel innovation, the research also revealed that while younger shoppers were more comfortable with mobile payments, 77% of overall respondents admitted that they felt mobile payments put their money at risk.
Brindley added: “Technology such as mobile payments and self-service technology can address many of the service issues consumers are pointing to in this survey. But, as retailers rightly look to embrace new technology, they should ensure they are getting the balance right. As mobile technology becomes more widely used, confidence will grow, but we must consider that self-service has been in place for many years, yet 60% still prefer manned checkout. The ‘death of the High Street’ is quite clearly not a reality. Bricks and mortar will always be vital. The key is to make such technology advances simply part of the shopping experience – and part of the retail boom in 2012.”This story first ran as the introduction to the 'EPoS, Instore Technology and Digital Signage' feature of the July/August 2012 issue of Retail Technology magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition or register for the free e-version.