TECHNOLOGY

‘Just walk out,’ smart technology usage to skyrocket over next five years

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers are stepping up their investments in technologies that rival those found at Amazon Go — and spending is set to explode by 2023.

“Just walk out’ shopping and other smart checkout technology investments will grow from an estimated $253 million in 2018 to over $45 billion by 2023, according to “Future Stores & the Retailers Building Them,” a report form Juniper Research.

According to findings, most “just walk out” transactions will happen in convenience and general stores, and average transaction value at these locations will hover around $30 per visit throughout the forecast period. In addition, self-scanning apps, an alternative to “just walk out” technologies, will be used by over 32 million shoppers by 2023.

These smart checkout apps could also become gateways to technologies like Bluetooth beacons and augmented reality. The development of virtualized beacons, where an antenna array simulates the presence of multiple beacons, will increase revenues for beacon manufacturers. These revenues will grow at an average annual growth of 49%, reaching over $1.5 billion by 2023; beacon shipments will only grow at 21.5% per year.

Customer service will be another key area for in-store innovation, with more retailers experimenting with automated handling of customer queries. Voice assistants and in-store robots will support this service in 2023, with robots generating over $20 million in revenue for their manufacturers.

Early leaders here include Softbank’s Pepper, Bossa Nova Robotics’ shelf-scanning, and Lowe’s customer service robots, the study revealed.

“Many of these technologies can bring multiple benefits to retailers” said Juniper senior analyst and research author James Moar. “For example, robots and RFID can be used in both customer service and inventory management; making both elements of in-store retail more efficient.”

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TECHNOLOGY

The #1 factor influencing where consumers shop is …

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Price is not the only factor that influences where consumers choose to shop.

Sixty-eight percent of customers said cost was the top factor that influences where they shop, according to data from Uberall, a location marketing solution provider. The runner up was proximity, which 55% of people chose as the reason for picking a store. Rounding out the top-five responses were product selection (53%), online customer reviews or ratings (36%) and brand loyalty (34%).

“Today’s shoppers value cost and convenience when deciding to shop in-store… brand loyalty has taken a backseat,” said Josha Benner, co-founder of Uberall, Inc. “When planning a shopping trip to physical stores, shoppers often want to know what location is closest to them for convenience, but they also want more information about what products or services each location has to offer and at what cost.”

When it comes to finding their closest store, 81% of customers are likely to use a store finder on a retailer’s website. When asked how likely the respondents were to use a store finder on a retailer or brand’s website, 42% said they were “very likely,” while 39% are “somewhat likely” to use the tool.

More than 80% of people conduct “near me” mobile searches, according to the study.

“One of the easiest ways to figure that out is by visiting a store’s website,” Benner explained.

“Store locator pages answer a lot more questions than just a listing,” he added. “Too many retailers are assuming search engines will do this work for them. But that’s not enough. Many consumers are still going to brand websites for local store and shopping information.”

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Walmart’s online grocery service hits two big milestones

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is making good on its promise to get online grocery orders into more shoppers’ hands faster.

On Monday, Walmart announced that it now offers grocery delivery in 50 metro areas across the United States. By launching grocery delivery earlier this month in Akron, Ohio, the company is halfway to its goal of offering the service to 100 metro areas, which equates to 40% of U.S. households.

Walmart added that “more locations on the way,” according to a blog on the company’s website.

Walmart uses many partners to get these deliveries into shoppers’ hands. Earlier this month, the company began testing a crowd-sourced delivery platform service, called Spark Delivery.  In April, the discounter teamed up with on-demand delivery service Postmates to streamline its grocery deliveries. Uber and Deliv have also been helping Walmart test deliveries in select markets, including Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa and San Jose.

In addition to its delivery milestone, on Sept. 20, Walmart began receiving orders at its newest Grocery Pickup location in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With this new location, the company now features more than 2,000 pickup locations across the U.S. where customers can place an order online and pick up their groceries curbside.

By the end of this fiscal year, Walmart expects to have 2,140 access points in 430 markets, covering 69% of all households in the U.S., according to the company.

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