Retail sector adopts technology to improve customer experience amid a pandemic – Euromonitor

GLOBAL – The unique challenges brought by the pandemic forced many players in the retail sector to adopt technology to help them enhance customer experience.  

This is according to a recently released report titled “Using Retail Tech Innovation to Enhance the Customer Experience”. 

The report released by global market research company Euromonitor International and the National Retail Federation (NRF) notes that approximately 58% of retail professionals say the pandemic accelerated new technology-related product launches at their company.  

“The pandemic has drastically accelerated the implementation of new technology for many retailers,” said NRF Vice President of Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews.  

“While these developments can typically take several years of meticulous planning, many were unveiled to consumers in a matter of weeks.” 

Michelle Evans, senior head of digital consumer at Euromonitor International notes that during the pandemic, technology came in handy particularly as a tool to improve operational efficiencies and to elevate customer experience.  

Innovations such as live streaming emerged as a new retail channel and technologies like AR and VR were used by brands to overcome the social distancing barrier and helped develop deeper connections with customers.  

In the US, retail giant Kroger partnered with Ocado to launch a Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC) equipped with smart technology to enhance its fulfillment, picking, and delivery capacity. 

Over 1,000 robots alongside nearly 400 employees are expected to work at the site to retrieve, sort, and pack items, which will then be loaded into delivery vans. 

Swiggy, India’s largest online food ordering and delivery platform, is also set to start drone trials for food delivery in Mumbai in an effort to improve customer experience, improve on delivery times, and cut transport costs.

The benefits of tech adoption were almost instant as findings from Euromonitor’s ‘Voice of the Consumer: Digital Survey’ fielded in March 2021 suggest that globally, nearly 30% of consumers purchased through live streaming in the last month. 

China recorded a high adoption usage at 63%, whereas the U.S. recorded a relatively lower figure at 29%, popularity will likely continue as the concept takes hold. 

The use of AR and VR to connect with consumers on the other hand resulted in 31% of consumers utilizing these technologies to buy household items and furniture this year.  

The Euromonitor research indicates that accelerated transformation online and in-store tech investment has been readily embraced by customers who have also adapted to the changing times.  

The report indicated that almost 40% of consumers point to scan-as-you-go, smart cart, and walk-in, walk-out technologies as the top desired features in terail stores. 

Another Euromonitor digital survey found that more than 42% of consumers are comfortable with in-store assistance from robots, and one in five are open to the idea of microchip implantation to enable payments. 

The market research firm notes that Tech-based immersive experiences will continue to pick up as consumers return to stores more frequently.  

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