Retailers must deploy technology to stay in the game, says Qmatic

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Technology is set to bring an end to the age-old British etiquette of queuing, at least for the retail market. This is according to an article in The Daily Telegraph which reports that transactions at manned, stationary point of sale check-outs have fallen from 71% in 2012 to 52% today. As technology becomes more affordable and retailers look to cut costs, the high street of the future could be closer than first imagined.

According to Qmatic, provider of customer journey management solutions, using technology to manage the customer’s in-store experience helps create a much more efficient and enjoyable experience. Self-check-outs are likely to expand from being in-store processes to applications on customers’ mobile phones, enabling users to scan the barcode that is linked directly to their online account or digital wallet.

“The latest technological advances for the retail market are all about creating a seamless customer journey and improving the overall in-store experience,” said Vanessa Walmsley, managing director at Qmatic. “One of the biggest pain or friction points in retail is the check-out experience in store when there are a whole range of developments out there that enable the customer to come in, choose their item and pay directly from their phone. Self-check-outs are just the start, these will soon reside in the customer’s phone.”

The devaluation of the pound following Brexit and the rising commodity prices, as well as the continued ongoing success of online shopping are seen as the key reasons for this drive to deploy greater technologies in-store.

“Imagine going into a clothing store and instead of using the handheld scanner – similar to the one you use in Waitrose to scan your food – you research, find and scan your clothes with your mobile instead. By working with retailers to develop end-to-end virtual to physical world solutions like this, customers can have a greater shopping experience, without having to worry about getting frustrated by long check-out queues,” continued Walmsley.

The traditional physical check-out queue as we know it could be gone within four years but Qmatic cautions that other aspects of the retail experience will still retain queuing systems and it is these areas that retailers must not neglect. Customer services or help/expert desks are likely to still retain queuing systems, but through an integrated solution customers will be able to more accurately reserve time and place themselves in virtual queues notified by mobile alerts of their time to be served to ensure the linear, stand in line queues of old aren’t repeated in a different area of the store.

“Physical check-out queues are likely to disappear but this doesn’t mean the retail experience will be entirely without queues. While customers enjoy their technology, it is by no means a catch-all solution and retailers must develop more innovative solutions in conjunction with traditional methods. Factors including the store layout, types of services offered, customer base and more are all areas that must be taken into consideration,” concluded Walmsley.