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This PSFK guide is a retail automation report for leveraging new customer touchpoints to drive engagement & sales.
Modern twists on classic machinery and digital tools are helping brands and retailers create seamless and automatic offerings that, in turn, streamline the purchase process for their customers, whether it be a food service facility or a golf shop. Automated systems, vending machines, and robotic solutions provide brands and retailers with the opportunity to not only excite consumers and connect with them in new ways, but enable them to complete transactions and obtain a diverse range of products like groceries, fresh food, and even fill their prescriptions, in a timeframe that is most convenient for them.
In this retail automation report, the PSFK research team explores the self-service tools, technologies, and locations brands and retailers are launching in order to integrate convenience and drive sales around a wide variety of quality products.
This retail automation report was developed by the same PSFK research department that since 2004 has provided trends-led innovation consulting advice to Apple, BMW, Facebook/Meta, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Volkswagen.
Published May 2021
Given reduced store traffic and the high price of storing inventory, brands are taking this moment to cut away at their supply chains and experiment with made-to-order fulfilment. Small batch, made-to-order product collections are helping companies to optimize production costs and limit excess inventory, while encouraging a more thoughtful approach to retail. By gathering in-the-moment buy-in from customers, brands are not only better able to eliminate unnecessary resources, but also build and maintain a closer...Real Time Inventory
Advancing the merchandising process by implementing next-gen technologies that allow for accurate real-time inventory, staffing, distribution and delivery adjustments as well as consumer behavior data to stock the right product at the right place and time. This includes leveraging purchase and in-store behavioral data to make quick pivots or anticipate shifts and be the first to market with new products that meet emerging needs.Responsive Merchandising
Companies are sitting on a wealth of data about their shoppers, their stores and the broader marketplace, but they often lack the internal capabilities and creative insight to put it to use. Successful brands and retailers are differentiating themselves with data-led initiatives that enable them to quickly adapt or even anticipate shifts to be first to market with new products inspired by local purchase patterns to better serve the needs of their customers.
To provide customers with greater convenience, off-price supermarket chain ALDI is trialling a 24-hour self-service vending machine called ALDImat at its Hassloch, Germany location. Stocked with necessities, the vending machine features 40 products from both private labels and major brands. All vending machines prices are maintained the same as in-store prices.DoorDash acquires meal-making robot startup, Chowbotics, in an effort to support restaurants with increasing to-go orders
With its acquisition of Chowbotics, a meal-making robot startup, online food ordering and delivery platform DoorDash is hoping to help its restaurant partners to expand their offerings. Chowbotics, which functions like a customizable meal vending machine capable of creating salads, grain and poke bowls, parfaits, cereals, and snacks, will be able to support restaurants’ influx of to-go and delivery orders, allowing for staff to focus on customer facing services.Grocer's smart kiosk allows BOPIS fulfillment within store parking lots
Albertsons has partnered with smart kiosk manufacturer Cleveron to deploy a click and collect solution at one of their Chicago locations. The refrigerated unit has two temperature zones (refrigerate and deep freeze) and lives in the store parking lot. Shoppers need to allow approximately 2 hours for their order to be picked in store and then placed in the kiosk. At pick up, shoppers scan a code and their order comes out of the unit in a basket fully packed and ready to go.