In 2021, nearly 25% of Australian retailers were intending to invest in digitalisation to reduce costs and increase profits. The retail sector has been on a steady march toward digitalisation for years. But it's still early days for many retailers, which provides an opportunity for savvy grocers to get ahead of the curve in both online and offline channels. The key to success in these changing and often challenging times is digital resilience.
The IDC Retail Insights report, the Retail Digital Pulse, looked at retail in the Asia Pacific Region in 2021. The report shows that cost saving is a significant driver toward digitisation for Aussie retailers. Those that have started their digital journey have the opportunity to build on that foundation and truly set themselves apart from competitors.
How does this translate for supermarkets? The report suggests a five-pronged approach for retailers advancing their digital journey. It covers digital transformation strategy, the technology approach for infrastructure and cloud adoption, transformation culture, the management and use of data, and process automation.
The pressure on supermarkets and consumers is perhaps greater than ever. Post pandemic, we're now facing inflation, interest rate rises and an increase in the cost of living and produce. The term future-proof is used, but we like to think of supermarkets as needing to be future-ready. The best way supermarkets can be ready for the uncertainty of the future is to harness digitalisation across the business to drive cost savings & efficiency.
Brick and mortar shopping, analogue scales, long queues, spreadsheets — this is the supermarket of the past. Retailers have left the past behind, saving time and costs with innovative retail technology at the storefront and in the fresh produce section. They're streamlining processes and creating efficiencies for their staff with clever AI. They're collecting customer and transaction data to enhance the shopping experience like never before and stay ahead of the competition.
Consumers are used to digital experiences too. They mix online and in-person shopping and choose the fast, digital self-checkout or scale. They use their phone to check ahead if what they want is in stock. And they get personalised emails with specials according to their recent purchases.
Self-checkouts, for example, mean no more waiting around in queues or asking someone else to do it for you. According to a report by Shopify, nearly 40% of consumers would rather use self-service checkout than wait in line for customer assistance.
The self-serve approach is also more hygienic. Consumers wanted a safer way to shop throughout the pandemic — that was a given. But it turns out that some of us liked the germ-free shopping experience. When we pay with a cashier, there's always the risk of germs being transferred from one person to another through hand contact, food handling and proximity. The ability to self-checkout and reduce screen touchpoints helps safeguard from nasty germs.
Every aspect of our lives has a digital component these days. So it's no longer about if your store will go digital; it's about how innovative you can be within a digital ecosystem and what you can do better than everyone else with the revolutionary technology at your fingertips.
In 2011, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 85% of retail customer interactions would be facilitated by AI. On the shop floor, the integration of AI benefits the retailer and the consumer.
AI-powered scales, such as the Tiliter AI Scale, enable improved accuracy, bag detection and fraud prevention, all of which help the retailer drive down costs. And the fast, automatic identification gives shoppers a more convenient way to buy groceries.
Customer data is helping retailers meet their customers' specific needs – essential when omni-channel shopping creates multiple opportunities to engage with the consumer. Valuable transaction data allows retailers to target and customise their products. It also will enable stores to streamline their processes while creating the most positive experience for that individual possible.
Digitally connected logistics and supply chain management allow a seamless shopping experience by ensuring that products are available and stock levels are kept lean. And retailers who add AI to their point-of-sale checkouts can tackle shrinkage issues with the ability to keep track of produce sold accurately.
Enhanced, even futuristic, experiences are part of the changing face of retail. They are at their best when they complement the people they support. Rather than replacing humans, digital technologies can free staff from repetitive, inefficient processes to focus on customer assistance and other meaningful roles across the store.
Start your supermarket digitalisation journey here.