Top Retail and Foodservice Tech Trends for 2014
As we look forward to an exciting 2014 in the world of retail and foodservice, the coming year will bring many new challenges and innovations in technology. As usual, change will be the constant as new and exciting technological advancements are shaping the way businesses will interact with consumers.
Some of the hottest tech trends that will be in the spotlight during 2014 are omnichannel retail, mobile, self-checkout, social media, big data, and tableside technology.
It’s more important than ever to engage consumers in all available shopping channels and in all aspects of the buying process. This includes computers, mobile devices, brick -and- mortar stores, television, radio, and direct mail. It involves communication through a variety of channels to help influence the brand and influence purchases.
Engaging customers with thoughtful and relevant information is the key. Consumers have access to the internet virtually anywhere and use it for comparison shopping, coupons, sales, and reviews. Businesses must reach out to consumers in a variety of ways: email, text, social media, push notifications, etc.
Big Data could be the front runner for trend of the year award. While it’s one thing to capture and house massive amounts of data ranging from information gathered from POS transactions, buying preferences, coupon redemption, supply chain, inventory, among countless other categories, the challenge is really how to harness it, analyze, make sense of it, and then put that intelligence into actionable results. There will be great value in analysts and data scientists that can pull the reigns in on these enormous data sets and make Big Data into Smart Data.
Self-checkout has continued to be a highly debated topic in retail and is making some slow but steady progress in the foodservice industry in the form of tableside technology. While self-checkout only makes sense in a few retail segments, it also only seems to be successful for some retailers within those segments as opposed to others.
Earlier in the year Walmart announced plans to add more self-checkout systems, around 10,000 more to be exact, while Costco announced it will totally eliminate self-checkout in all of its stores.
Walmart sees the technology as a convenience to its customers and it has the potential to save the company millions of dollars, although the company has said it has no plans to eliminate any cashier positions.
Consumers either love them or hate them. It seems there’s no in-between for opinions on self-checkout POS. It can be convenient and quicker than traditional checkout if the system is working properly, yet the customer service experience is gone. Retailers across various industries hold the same opinions. They either love them or hate them, and Costco is yet another large retailer to eliminate self-checkout from its operations.
It wasn’t too long ago when mobile was the buzzword of the day and now it’s ingrained in our daily lives and activities. The adoption of smartphones has grown at an astounding rate and tablets are the next fastest growing mobile device. While these devices are relatively young, many people can’t imagine what they did without them.
Perhaps the most important part of mobile is that companies have the ability to reach and engage consumers as they are on the go. This involves using email marketing, text message promotions, social media promotions via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, among others. There are also push notifications that are being sent using GPS technology to identify a person’s proximity to certain stores and highlight promotions.
Many technologies around mobile are emerging on the scene and while some likely won’t survive, there are others that have the potential to make an impact on the retail and foodservice business and the way consumers shop: mobile checkout, mobile wallets, and mobile websites to name a few.
A survey conducted by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Retail Touchpoints signaled a positive future for mobile point of sale. The survey revealed that while only 26 percent of those surveyed currently have mobile POS systems deployed, more than 50 percent plan to implement mobile POS by 2018. There were 100 retail executives surveyed.
Mobile POS not only can help keep lines shorter by offering easy checkout anywhere in the store, many of the devices also allow store associates to view current inventory levels and look up additional information about products to assist customers.
While the number of respondents that indicated they are currently using the technology seems low, the number of responses regarding planned implementation shows retailers are reacting to customer shopping trends and preferences.
Only 23 percent of respondents said they have no plans to get rid of their registers in favor of mobile checkout. As time goes on it is very likely this number will shrink as these retailers begin to see the benefits of mobile POS to both the business and consumers.
With the adoption of mobile checkout still in its early stages, Walmart and JCPenney’s initiatives in 2013 showcased two different approaches to offering the up and coming technology. JCPenney implemented a standard mobile checkout model, while Walmart tested a unique approach by combining mobile with self- checkout.
JCPenney associates are equipped with a POS iPod which enables them to checkout customers anywhere in the store. Traditional cash wrap checkouts will still be available, but will be phased out over time.
Walmart is putting a different spin on mobile checkout by putting the power in the hands of its customers. The company tested the “Scan and Go” program that uses the Walmart app and allows customers with smartphones to scan the barcodes on products as they put them into their shopping carts. When the customer is finished shopping, the app creates a custom QR code that is used to complete the transaction at one of the self -checkout stations at the front of the store.
Reducing wait times, freeing up floor space, looking up product detail, increased security and a low cost of integration are all advantages for retailers adding mobile checkout.
Right now there is no clear leader in mobile payments and one might not emerge for some time. Big names like Google, Apple, Square, PayPal, and Isis among others are navigating these uncharted waters.
There are considerable barriers to overcome including convincing people mobile wallets are easier to use than swipe cards and can be much more convenient than storing multiple cards in a wallet. Outfitting NFC technology in mobile phones and getting retailers and restaurant operators on board to accept these types of transactions at a somewhat proportionate rate is a significant challenge to broad adoption as well.
Changing the way consumers pay takes time and isn’t always successful. Mobile wallet apps accounted for $500 million worth of sales transactions in 2012 and is expected to grow to $35 billion by 2017, according to Berg Insight. If this number is reached it would still only represent a fraction of all transactions, still this type of predicted growth shows considerable consumer interest in the technology.
Technology at restaurant tables, specifically tablets and kiosks, is a natural fit for the restaurant industry, specifically in the casual and fast casual segments.
The machines are extremely user friendly and can give diners the options to place orders themselves with the added security of paying at the table. Waiting for the check has been a particular pain point for restaurant-goers over the years and this gives them the option to make an immediate secure transaction when they are ready.
They also offer suggestive selling options and can display ads for certain products. Some offer games for patrons to play and keep children occupied. Some smaller restaurant chains and independents have been using iPads or other tablets to display wine lists and menu items.
Although the industry has been slow to adopt the technology, there have been some breakthroughs in adoption this past year from large chains. Casual dining chains Chili’s and Applebee’s are taking the leap to the next generation of customer service. The chain announced in September that it is planning to install tabletop tablet-like computer screens made by Ziosk, LLC at most locations. Applebee’s plans to install 100,000 E la Carte Presto tablets on every table in all U.S. restaurants by the end of 2014.
Approximately 10% of restaurants in Hospitality Technology’s “2013 Customer Engagement Technology Study” offer ordering via some type of tablet device. While the technology is far from mainstream, its adoption is picking up pace. By 2015, the number of restaurants offering it will be 24%.
Chain Store Guide’s 2014 Databases of Retail and Foodservice Technology are designed to help users identify the technology in use at the leading retail and foodservice companies in the United States and Canada. CSG’s in-house call center and Editorial team research all company data and ensure all information is accurate and updated. The Online database is refreshed daily so that our customers receive the most up to date information.