The new year has kicked off with mixed news on the retail front, with two Australian retailers entering voluntary administration and December sales figures failing to live up to expectation.
Meanwhile, technology continues to dominate the retail landscape as stores across the globe investigate the latest ways to offer an improved customer experience.
Here’s the retail roundup for February 2019…
Scan and Go
Two recent US studies indicate the growing popularity of grab and go, cashierless technology, with GPShopper claiming 48 per cent of US internet users believe it would make shopping easier and 43 per cent say they would rather try scan and go than wait in line.
The vertical respondents would most like to see scan and go technology deployed is grocery stores (50 per cent of respondents) followed by home goods (30 per cent) fashion (27 per cent), beauty/cosmetics (25 per cent) sports and outdoors (21 per cent), and then automotive/car supplies (20 per cent).
Meanwhile, RIS News found grab and go is the leading new shopping technology digital buyers would like to try, ahead of other initiatives like drone delivery and augmented reality. They found 59 per cent of survey respondents indicated they would try grab and go.
Shelves are going digital
In-store shelving could be the next are to receive a digital upgrade, according to Best Selling News. They note US grocery retailer Kroger is currently working with Microsoft to give its digital shelving more features including scan and go capability.
Currently two test stores are being set up which will enable shelves to communicate with consumer’s smart phones, guiding them through the retail process and helping them fulfill their shopping lists.
It follows news last year that the retailer was implementing digital shelving at 200 stores which allowed them to display pricing, nutritional information, coupons and video advertising, and importantly, enable the retailer to instantly alter pricing.
Bloomberg reports retailers are turning to Facebook-style shopper profiling in a bid to better understand and satisfy the consumer.
Spurred on by developers like Salesforce and Freshworks, the software allows retailers to track every purchase consumers have made, product they’ve returned, ad they’ve clicked on and item they’ve tossed from their cart.
“The idea is to bring together on one dashboard data from the traditionally siloed marketing, help-desk and sales departments, making it possible to build a Facebook-style profile of each shopper,” Bloomberg states.
“Once your cell phone number pops up on a service agent’s screen, they’ll have an immediate history of your relationship with the brand.”
The ultimate result is predicted to be faster complaint and query resolution and better customer service.
“Retailers have realised consumers hyper-adopt and hyper-abandon brands like never before,” Forrester analyst Brendan Witcher told Bloomberg. “The products don’t really matter anymore. What does matter is the experience—and service is a key part of that.”
Tasmanian bag checks
Tasmanian shoppers could soon face mandatory bag checks under legislation proposed late last year.
The ABC reports the proposed new laws allow employers at any store to physically inspect customers’ bags as they exit a store.
“Under current legislation, only employed security guards stationed at the front of stores have the authority to check bags.
“Tasmania’s retail sector, which is worth more than $6.1 billion, is estimated to lose in excess of $216 million to shoplifters each year.”
Victorian bag bans
Meanwhile, just across the Tasman, Victorian retailers are preparing for plastic bag bans, which are due to come into full effect by the end of the year.
The Victorian ban means all states and territories other than New South Wales have now banned the single-use plastic bag in retail.
National Retail Association manager of Industry Policy David Stout told Inside Retail, Victoria would be looking to the previous success of WA and Queensland when it came to implementing the change.
“The removal of lightweight plastic shopping bags is one of the biggest reforms to happen in the retail sector in a generation and it’s important that it’s done right. It’s a major behavioural change for shoppers, and retailers need to be adequately prepared for the reform,” said Stout.
December sales down
After a solid November, December sales figures failed to live up to expectation, falling 0.4 per cent to $27 billion, compared to the 0.5 per cent increase seen in November.
Over the course of the holiday period Australians spent $48.7 billion on retail sales, below the $51 billion projected by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan, though above the corresponding turnover of $47.5 billion from 2017, Inside Retail reports.
It comes amidst news that cosmetics company Napoleon Perdis and menswear retailer Ed Harry have both entered voluntary administration.
Looking on the bright side, ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman explained while the December figures were depressed, annually the industry achieved a 3 per cent growth in sales, compared to the 2.76 per cent seen the previous year.