Not too long ago, automation was something solely being used along assembly lines and in similar areas of the business world. But now, thanks to artificial intelligence and the prevalence of technology, automation is becoming a central part of virtually every industry, including retail. Here are some automation trends we’ve spotted so far in 2019, and a few we think might begin to make an appearance.
Wider Use of BOPIS
The buy online, pick up in store, or BOPIS, business model isn’t entirely new. It’s an extremely prevalent service used primarily by major big-box stores, such as Walmart and Target. And while most people might be familiar with the concept of grocery pickup, it’s now expanding to other types of retailers. Clothing stores like rue21 and the pet product store Petco have begun to offer this model of shopping as well, and it’s paid off with increased customer interest.
A recent report showed that more than two-thirds of shoppers surveyed planned to use BOPIS services to assist with their holiday shopping last year. Why? Shoppers stated that they believed this type of automation in the retail industry wouldn’t only save them time but would also significantly reduce the stress that often comes along with the holiday shopping season.
Just about everyone has experienced the annoyance of finding the perfect fit when buying new clothing. It seems like every brand has a different definition of what size numbers should look like, and a size 6 is never the same across multiple brands. Now, some companies are beginning to turn to technology and automation to help customers find the perfect fit.
For example, OnPoint Manufacturing has a factory where they manufacture clothing based on unique designs and patterns. For example, you could order a dress that is a size 10 on top, and a size 8 on the bottom. This allows people to get exactly what they want and ensure a perfect fit. Amazon also acquired the body scanning company Body Labs in 2017, opening up the possibility of custom-fit clothing created from a digitally rendered body scan.
The concept of drone deliveries was introduced a short while back, and consumers were naturally very excited. The possibility of having a package delivered to their doorstep via an AI-controlled drone in just a matter of hours, was truly incredible. And, while this technology isn’t exactly the norm in the business world, it is something that major retailers, such as Amazon, continue to explore. Early experimentation with this process has been promising, and this could be something that reshapes retail in the near future.
Again, you’re probably familiar with the self-checkout lanes in many big-box retail stores around the country, but they’re still largely relegated to grocery stores. However, this technology is expanding in a variety of ways. First, it’s being adopted by a wider variety of retailers. Second, it’s expanding beyond those self-checkout kiosks.
Many grocers have begun to offer app-based scanning and payment systems. You can scan your purchases as you pick them up in the store and drop them in your basket. Then, when you leave the store, you are automatically charged for your purchases via the app. This technology isn’t yet widespread, as many platforms are still working out some issues. However, this automated checkout solution could be popping up more and more as 2019 draws to a close.
Automation is the future for virtually every industry in the business world, and retail automation is constantly improving and changing. If you’re a retailer, be sure to stay on top of retail automation solutions for your buiness and contact TradeBeyond to see how they can help you.