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Digitise the retail physical presence for an efficient omnichannel

A robot in a retail environment

As the world experiences a COVID19 pandemic, a seismic shift towards a ‘new norm’[1] paradigm is being defined in the way we shop and rethink what in-store experience really means for the growth of your omnichannel. Consumers have radically changed their buying behaviours due to new regulations and restrictions, creating ripple effects that will shape various industry operations[2]. These emerging trends could have profound implications on a brand’s business, which allows them to adapt to changing circumstances - avoiding both insufficient exploitations of existing opportunities and impractical exploration. It’s important to emphasise communication and streamline technology to innovate the future of your retail operations by use of fully-autonomous service robots like Mim and Bo.

If you stand still, you fall behind – Mark Twain

Robotic Catalysts

In 2020 there has been a boom in robots in a range of industries that now include retail, travel, hospitality, health, supply chain, and logistics as a response to better deal and work within a global pandemic[3]. With 3 main driving forces behind these changes, this retail white paper aims to provide solutions to revolutionise your physical stores through the use of innovative robotic platforms that function with state-of-the-art AI technology. COVID19 has caused a shift in the consumer paradigm. What this means is that social distancing regulations, health, and hygiene measures have made it difficult to sustain meaningful or significant customer experience. This gives way for human-robot collaboration to assist clients without sacrificing the shopping experience - with some gaining 13% revenue increase and a six-fold boost in sales[4] after robot implementation. Innovative retail is on the rise as consumers look for new ways to engage when in-store, wanting to have an emotional connection to their shopping experience2 - while being socially distant. Bridging digital and physical commerce by providing lightning-fast response times to in-store items and shelf location of what they’re looking for at e-commerce speeds appeals to newer generations of consumers as they learn to live in a new norm world and continue their customer journeys.

Robotic Catalysts

Bo and Mim are prime candidates to lead in the revitalisation of your current in-store customer experience and be the robotic catalysts we set them out to be. With Bo being able to independently interact with customers and deliver real-time insights, Mim works hard in the background to ensure autonomous indoor operations and maintain a steady flow in your pipeline of what’s in stock, what’s not, and what should be. But to implement these two into action, there are a few obstacles you should avoid in your current business model before you bring them onboard.

What to avoid in retain transformation

In our work with clients, we’ve seen a series of pitfalls that pop up again and again when it comes to transforming retail operations - a benefit that allows companies to control the processes, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies to the omnichannel when done right. Consider these 3 things to avoid:

  1. Undervaluing the customer experience - It can be daunting for anyone to come into a store and have little to no contact with anyone to obtain information as to promotions, shelf product locations, stock count, and any assistance. With a need to fill a communication gap due to social distancing, customers want the continuation of a smooth in-store experience. “Robots can provide personalised, on-demand service —and the need for that will only increase in the future.”[5]

  2. Not generation proofing - The report “Generation Z as Future Customers, 2027”[6] states and observes that Gen Z and tech-savvy millennial consumers will be more comfortable with the idea of robots, autonomous technologies, and AI interactions. This is true due to them being the first generations to be immersed in the autonomous technology and Internet era. “New technology trends and market developments enable companies to react to changing requirements.”[7] Adapt to maintain your relevance.

  3. Not investing in industry 4.0 - Regardless of the size of the company, the status it may transmit, or existing time within the market - Without automation, companies are risking a lower customer satisfaction and unnecessary staff efforts. “Despite still being in its early stages [of industry 4.0], businesses can leverage the many technological developments made over the years.”[8]

“Many leaders of big organizations, I think, don’t believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change; and if your business is static, you’re likely to have issues.” - Larry Page

An investment that pays

The overall investment, in numbers alone, makes a solid case for going all-in with your retail upgrade, as effective personalisation can increase store revenues by 20-30%[9]. The turnover for those that make the right investment will be meaningful, with 83% of customers saying they want their shopping experience to be personalised in some way.[8] Retail leaders, business owners, and C-level executives across the board should act now to prepare their organizations for a robot and AI-enabled revolution in customer experience and efficiency.

Technology will likely double store profitability

The innovative approach

We’ve identified 3 core elements that compose a substantial retail transformation plan that will upgrade your brand’s image:

  1. Design with digitisation in mind that’s both user-centric and business-oriented.
  2. Use the right tools and tech to easily automate stock accurately.
  3. A bridge between the physical and digital through the use of robots and AI.

These elements, when combined, can generate growth for the company when applied to some fresh perspectives and inspiring ideas; launching a business into a brighter direction. This will not only empower and provide a new rich experience to the end client - it will furthermore align the retail transformation with profound consumer insights to expand your reach into valuable customer data.

Inspiring ideas

The following ideas are powerful insights and methods to upgrade your operations within your brand’s entire venture.

  1. Empowering customers to self-educate - Introducing robots and AI technology in a subtle yet impactful way, will ease customers and staff into a new reality - one that involves them engaging and interacting with machines. This empowerment of business through innovative technology will lead the customer journey to new heights.

    • Recreate choosing the right one: Product Comparison. With Bo in the front lines of customer service and Mim in the back, together they can run product comparison at lightning-fast speeds connected to the IIOT (Industry Internet of Things).
    • Recreate the unboxing experience: Product showcase reviews. With videos on Bo’s display, customers can find out about their favorite products available in stores - in seconds. Because by now, everyone has an omnichannel device in their pocket, therefore: 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they're about to make in a store.[10]
    • Recreate product demonstrations: Snappy show-how. Provide mini-tutorials that are accessible to customers and support agents to better understand how these machines can best serve customers and gather their feedback.

      • See it in action: BotsAndUs has Tutorial Tuesdays from our engineers, influencers, and regular customers on how to use our robots.
  2. A new in-store experience - With Bo & Mim working in perfect unison, retailers can provide a revolutionary in-store customer experience that will have customers enjoy a new way of interacting with robots that acknowledge them and their preferences. Such initiatives can enable a unique competitive edge for physical retailers through unparalleled in-store data to leverage against the growing e-commerce markets.

    • Re-create the touch and feel with a virtual tryout. Let customers have nearly as much insight as you do in regards to product placements, in-store department locations, and the planogram to get a full view of what’s in stock and what they can buy in-store.

      • See it in action: BotsAndUs lets your customers view products in their own homes via AR. Get a visually accurate planogram experience.
  3. Personalise all customer service points - With a strategic location in stores, your new service robots will provide seamless assistance to customers while feeding real-time data to your business teams. Through the all-in-one robotics platform, you gain powerful anonymised data sets on consumer behaviour, tastes, and preferences to accurately determine what you do and do not need to invest in.

    • Recreate advocacy: create influencers and advocates - Create and re-purpose in-store training initiatives to upskill support agents to act on behalf of the company’s name or brand as an ambassador to the new fully-autonomous service robots.
    • Recreate a friendly guide: online manual. Provide the new in-store experience to customers in the comfort of their home by offering expert advice and guides on how to interact with the robots and gain the best service from them.

      • See it in action: BotsAndUs uses the expertise of its staff online through a personalized interface to show how the robots work - for you and your customers.
  4. Delight customers post-sale - Through distributed AI, all robots learn from each customer interaction. This way, your marketing teams could personalise in-store promotional campaigns with accurate and efficient ad targeting like never before. Clients will gravitate towards a brand for abiding by the ‘new norms’, innovating the bridge between the digital and physical worlds, and catering to their tastes.

    • Recreate an online inventory: create automated stock. Why have clients gone out of their way to go to a store that doesn’t have what they need or want on the shelf? Give them real-time shelf health insights to make their next order or pre-order a successful one.
    • Recreate leverage with consumer insights. With a fresh set of valuable data sets from consumer preferences, use it to your full advantage to direct and redirect stock, incoming supplies, and calculate new trends. This is also of valuable use in B2B situations when negotiating goods, services, and contracts.

      • See it in action: BotsAndUs uses Mim’s stock management capabilities to show what’s on the shelf and what’s yet to be ordered.

The time to upgrade is now

The retail transformation of physical stores is imperative, there's no time to lose.

An evolvable strategy is an efficient and calibrated approach to your current business model. By upgrading and polishing the physical retail experience, brands and companies alike can positively increase current client engagement, omnichannel expansion, drive the productivity of the existing workforce, and leave a lasting worthwhile impression on customers.

Don’t waste time - get in touch to see how we can help you.

Yes, I want a Mim and Bo demo now!

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  1. Johns Hopkins Medical (2020) “The new normal and coronavirus
  2. Deloitte (2020) - “Retail trends 2020
  3. National geographic (2020) - “The pandemic has been good for one kind of worker: robots
  4. Emerj (2020) - “Robots in Retail – Examples of Real Industry Application
  5. National Geographic (2020) - “Could a robot care for grandma?
  6. Research and Markets (2019) - “Generation Z as Future Customers, Forecast to 2027
  7. International Federation of Robotics (2020) - “Top Trends Robotics 2020
  8. Telstra Ventures (2020) - “5 Ways Robotics is Transforming Industries in 2020
  9. MvKinsey (2020) - “Future of retail operations: Winning in a digital era
  10. Think with Google (2015) - “How Micro-Moments Are Changing the Rules