The world of retail has changed so dramatically in a very short space of time that some consumers may have struggled to keep up with the new developments. Online sales are becoming an ever more significant factor in retail sales and it is hard to find many people who haven’t bought something on eBay and Amazon. Mobile phones are being used more and more as are tablets and next day deliveries and click and collect services are commonplace.
Clearly the major retailers have the resources to keep up with technological developments and to adapt efficiently to the changing retail landscape. Independent retailers have had a tougher time and some have remained somewhat in the dark ages! EPoS (electronic point of sale) tills and software systems have enabled them to manage selling across multiple platforms and the more savvy operators have ecommerce websites, trade on Amazon and use the information their software provides to understand their customers better and to manage their businesses more efficiently. However, with some independents yet to invest in electronic tills, the goal posts are probably about to move again. So what is coming next?
A New Shopping Experience
The pace at which new technology is being developed is accelerating and so the way we shop will continue to evolve. It is likely that our in store experience will change radically in the coming years and much of the impending changes will concern the aforementioned tills. It is quite possible that tills will become redundant in most retail environments.
It is likely that sales assistants will be stepping out from behind the tills and roaming stores with mobile devices to take payment. This already happens in some stores like Apple and it is practice that is likely to roll out to other stores. The devices may not be just payment terminals but tablets that display the products and suggest alternatives or complementary items.
We will probably also see a situation where shoppers use in store terminals to view and select items, make payments using them and then collect their good from a central point. Some forward thinking stores, including independents, have already cut tills out of their processes by installing terminals displaying their websites on which shoppers can view and pay for their items before they are brought to them.
It won’t be too long before we can walk around shops and use our mobiles to scan the tickets of the items we are interested in, receive further information, select the pieces we want to buy and pay for them. Such a system would mean that the store’s investment in hardware would be minimal as consumers would be conducting the entire process on their own devices.
As you can see the days of having to queue to pay for our goods are probably numbered. In the not too distant future all we will need is our mobile phones and the right banking facilities. We will be able to wander into a store, see the goods, find out all the information we need, make our purchases and leave without going near a till and having had minimal contact with staff. Will small retailers be able to keep up with these developments? Time will tell.
Article by Sally Stacey