More and more self-service solutions are cropping up both across Europe and worldwide. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, this is one of the best solutions to streamline in-store shopping.
But there's more! Smart self-service systems are also the way to cut costs, for instance, in the event of store closures or drops in sales.
A well-implemented system is all it takes for a positive impact to be felt by the chain and its customers.
Smart Self-Service Solutions
With smart self-service solutions in place, selling processes are streamlined, queuing time is reduced, and servicing and maintenance tasks are more cost-efficient than in-house personnel.
There are two smart-trolley concepts on the market that are worthy of note: one has been developed by the US-based tech giant Amazon; the other belongs to a European provider of retail solutions, MAGO.
Amazon’s solution is currently being tested for implementation in retail premises. MAGO’s CLEVER smart trolley, however – after successful tests at Lewiatan, one of Poland’s major retailers – is expected to be launched at one of the chain’s locations later this year.
CLEVER combines a self-checkout with a shopping cart. With the Polish manufacturer's breakthrough solution, shoppers are able to move through the shopping experience on their own, with practically no support required from store personnel.
Tomasz Dwojak, MAGO chief commercial officer, said, "Before launching the development process for CLEVER, we conducted in-depth customer surveys at retail stores of various sizes. Hence we were able to identify the most critical areas of negative impact on the store's customers."
The CLEVER smart trolley reduces the customer processing time in the checkout area to an absolute minimum.
A reusable bag replaces a traditional shopping trolley. Hence, the customer only touches the groceries once, as s/he takes them from the shelves. Importantly, there’s no need to repack. The customer just pays, detaches the bag, returns the trolley, and leaves.
Moreover, the retail chain’s app is integrated with the CLEVER system, which means that the product assortment may be matched precisely with the specific customer.
CLEVER features several innovative technologies - a touchscreen computer, scanner integrated with the handle, and a certified scale.
Moreover, CLEVER features a smart LED lighting system that shows the current status and operating mode of the checkout.
CLEVER technology gathers a lot of information about a store's customers. It tracks the shopping path, including when and what products are bought, and what categories are discarded most often. Hence, the store can better tailor its offer to its customers.
CLEVER: Simple And Intuitive To Handle
The customer activates CLEVER via the specific retail chain’s app. Then, the customer puts a special reusable bag onto the trolley and starts his or her shopping.
The customer scans various products, including those sold by weight, then puts them into the bag, where they are verified by the certified scale. Product and price information appear on the screen as new items are added.
In developing CLEVER, MAGO made sure not to neglect an aspect as important as checking the customer’s age when buying alcohol.
If an alcoholic beverage is put into the bag, the LED light on the device starts flashing orange. This is a sign for store personnel to come and check the buyer’s age.
The customer may continue shopping, even with the LED flashing, as the age check may be conducted at the very end of the process, just before the payment. There are two methods for the customer to pay: via the retail chain’s app, on a smartphone; or with card or cash at a self-checkout.
Benefits For Retailers
CLEVER also offers an additional means for a retail chain to interact with its customers without relying on traditional POS materials.
Retailers can use CLEVER’s integrated screen to display customised advertising content on the basis of the existing shopping history, or to inform customers about the items currently in the bag.
For instance, let's say a customer visits a store to buy ingredients for a pasta dish. They first choose the proper kind of pasta, then the sauce – and this is when CLEVER may suggest an alternative sauce product or offer a special discount for buying another container of sauce.
CLEVER may also assist in choosing the right wine for the meal. For instance, if the customer puts beer into the bag, the device might suggest a complementary offer of breadsticks or potato chips at a special price.
Of course, those are alternative scenarios pre-defined in cooperation with the customer, i.e., the chain operator.
CLEVER also adds comfort to the customer experience and reduces the number of contact points between the customer and the staff.
In the present context of the coronavirus pandemic, maintaining social distance is of key importance. The retail chain does not have to involve its staff in assisting the customer and can even better adjust their product ranges.
CLEVER premiered in February, at EuroShop, in Düsseldorf , and it received a positive response, as retailers had the chance to experience ‘live’ the functionality of the Polish manufacturer’s smart-trolley design.
As a result, many international chains are currently discussing the possibility of integrating MAGO into their operations.
While Amazon's development works on a similar solution, MAGO sees no danger in it.
Dwojak stated, "It may sound immodest, but we're not concerned about Amazon as a competitor. We're perfectly aware of how highly competitive our market is, and competing against a rival such as Amazon is an incentive for us to take even more intensive steps. Launching new technological solutions or improving existing ones always entails a major risk.
"Even a minor oversight or small defect may lead to huge losses. Our edge is the fact that we have successfully completed tests of our CLEVER smart trolley design at a major Polish retail chain, Lewiatan, and, also with much success, at a drugstore chain. CLEVER will be launched at Lewiatan later this year. At present, we are preparing the implementation of our solution for a number of international retail chains operating in Poland."
For more information, visit www.mago.com/en/.