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Bricks and Mortar and Ecommerce

Recently (just in time for Black Friday) Biz Community published an article about Zebra Technologies Corporation’s 12th annual Global Shopper Study, which analyses the attitudinal behaviour of shoppers, retail associates and retail executives and examines the retail and technology trends impacting shoppers’ purchasing behaviour. According to this study, 75% of surveyed millennial shoppers and 53% of Gen X shoppers said they visited stores and left without buying anything often because of lack of stock. They then bought the item online.  43% of retailers cited customer complaints about out-of-stocks as their biggest frustration and 39% of shoppers left the store without a purchase due to this problem.
On the other hand, 40% of shoppers reported using self-checkout technologies within the last 6 months and 86% liked the experience. 58% of shoppers (70% of millennials) felt that self-checkout improved customer experience. 54% of store associates said staffed checkout areas are less necessary with new technology that automates the process. 87% of retail executives believe self-checkout frees up store associates to serve customers better, and 81% reported they are starting to see a return on their investment. Of course, that latter figure may hide the fact that self-checkout allows retailers to lay-off staff. Recently when I was in Geneva I went to a supermarket. Where there had been 10 manned tills, now there are 9 self-checkout tills and only one manned till. There were about 4 staff restocking the shelves (no change from before) and the manager.

In Kenya, they have found that the simplest way of optimising markets is through pre-sales, which then creates a predictable order book and allows for the best delivery routes to be calculated. Kenya is leveraging its high penetration of smart and feature phones, which enables practically everyone to access the M-PESA service. An intelligent route to a market solution on top of digital banking can bring route optimisation into space where this was previously impossible, helping distributors to understand customer requirements, rate of sales, money collected and so on. Would that work in SA with its concentration of shopping malls?

Meanwhile in the USA, according to Bloomberg, Amazon is getting ready to use its Go technology, which allows consumers to grab what they want and leave without physically checking out, in new store formats and also license it as soon as Q1 2020.  If Amazon can successfully scale its Go format for supermarkets and license the technology, it will cement its spot at the top of the autonomous checkout market. The company is said to be developing the technology so it can be used from the largest supermarket to kiosks in malls and sports stadiums, so Go will be moving beyond the convenience store format that all of the existing Amazon Go locations presently use.

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Shahrain Coovadia

Shahrain Coovadia is a Cyber Security Consultant at Deloitte, South Africa. Prior to joining Deloitte she started a web-design studio, and worked at the University of Cape Town as a teaching facilitator. Shahrain graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours specialising in Information Systems. She currently facilitates web & database management for Ecommerce Forum South Africa (EFSA).

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