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Robotics solutions enable the real omnichannel

Two people interacting with a robot

Despite still failing to be a reality, omnichannel has already become trivial to most marketing and operations strategies in the retail industry. With customers using more and more touch-points when buying an item, retailers have to make sure these channels are effective and meet customers’ needs. This process has proved difficult even when retailers are trying to manage different touch-points in the online realm - i.e. when consumers decide to take a multi-device path towards purchasing. The retailers’ simple presence across different channels is no longer a competitive advantage.

Trends show that digital natives are turning towards physical pop-up stores of e-commerce platforms as well as digitally powered physical stores of traditional retailers. Physical and online shopping are more and more intertwined and retailers need to maximise the efficiency of their omnichannel. Physical retailers can no longer simply be the ‘showroom’ of all the products the retailer is carrying but should provide data-powered experiences to their customers.

Why is omnichannel important? Shoppers no longer enter a store with the same expectations and needs. 42% of in-store customers are using their smartphones to aid their purchase; either looking for more information on the retailer’s app/website or for other retailers’ comparable products. Successful omnichannel retailers acknowledge the urgency of taking action and ensuring the online-to-offline experience and vice versa is seamless; especially since omnichannel shoppers are estimated to yield a 30% higher lifetime value.

Store data is the missing piece of the puzzle: To enable a true omnichannel strategy and be able to compete in the e-commerce era, physical retailers need to understand sales channels (by tracking store layouts, fixture placements, product placement, price tickets and shelf space), customer journeys (by tracking customer traffic patterns and journeys in store as well as any associate behavioural changes) and customer experience (correlate customer journey data with customer feedback and brand perception).

Why robots? Despite industry publications covering physical retail and its imminent demise, "retail isn't dead, and nor are stores". According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 90% of all retail sales in 2019 still happened in store. Although that may be reassuring, it also calls for additional attention towards meshing the online and offline channels together. Many investments are already being made to accelerate the digitisation of physical stores such as electronic shelf labeling and smart-shelves. However, most of these initiatives are still independent and rarely integrated with the overall store operations.

Robots bring all these complementary pieces of technology together to provide a seamless customer journey in whatever sequence and fashion customers decide to purchase products of their interest.

BotsAndUs, with their fleet of autonomous robots for customer service and operations, can create the bridge between all channels for a real and effective omnichannel. These robots can autonomously navigate stores, proactively approach and serve customers while gathering all necessary data for HQ teams to have a real-time image of what’s happening in the stores. From the comfort of their desks, these teams can link shelf stock and product location to their other channels (website or app) for a seamless overall customer journey. The robots are therefore the data-powered engine that allows information to be consistent across all channels and thus, to enable a truly efficient omnichannel.