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Future of retail depends on seamless experiences: Survey

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Zebra Technologies Corporation has revealed the results of its 12th Annual APAC Shopper Study, which analyzed retailers’ technology plans for solving chronic shopping issues. Results show that retailers are looking to harness technologies like intelligent automation, cloud computing and mobility to drive economic growth. To strengthen retailers position in these unprecedented times, the launch of the 12th Annual APAC Shopper Study is aligned with the unveiling of array of products by Zebra Technologies.

As businesses reopen and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, the resiliency of retailers and supply chains are being tested more now than ever before. One monumental shift relates to the concept of “Economy at Home,” which addresses the way consumers have completely changed their shopping habits. The frequency and volume of online spending on food has increased across the region, with consumers expressing a preference for self-checkout rather than assistance from cashiers for safe distancing.

To meet rising customer expectations, retailers need to rethink the safety of the customer journey, whether it is in store or via delivery. Click-and-collect, or buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS), are becoming preferred methods of shopping, with 55% of consumers requesting more retailers to offer mobile ordering options. This is forcing businesses to rethink their fulfillment strategies given that only 36% of respondents agreed that their stores are equipped to fulfill web orders.  The study expects this trend to continue, while retailers implement additional solutions that minimize in-store contact and improve customer convenience at the same time.

“COVID-19 has significantly altered the retail sector, forcing both essential and non-essential retailers to assess their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities and quickly adapt their operating models in a matter of days – some implementing changes within hours,”  said Deep Agarwal, Regional Sales Director of India, Zebra Technologies. “We’re seeing how retailers are transforming ‘dark stores’ to serve as temporary distribution facilities inside their establishments. Retailers should prioritize the expansion of click-and-collect service offerings and invest in technologies that increase shopping capacity and speed. This reduces in-store traffic and aids in social distancing efforts, while providing retailers with inventory visibility across every corner of the shop floor.”

Putting a mobile device into the hands of a retail associate simplifies tasks like inventory management, yet an estimated 64% of retail associates are not equipped to maximize the benefits of technology. In response, retailers are moving away from dated green-screen technology to enterprise-class devices with intuitive, user-friendly interfaces with smartphone-like operating systems.

The pandemic has proven this true as click-and-collect orders have surged, creating the need for store associates to enable contactless transactions via curbside pickup with handheld mobile computers and tablets.

The adoption of mPOS solutions is expected to hit 98% by 2026, up from 76% today. The same trend is also observed for handheld mobile computers with scanners as retail associate device usage is expected to reach 96% by 2026, up from the current 75%.

Zebra Technologies has also launched Self-checkout solutions like the DS9900 Series Corded Hybrid Imager, DS9300 Barcode Scanner and the upgraded MP7000 Grocery Scanner Scale that are helping retailers to reshape the front-of-store experience. Growing up with technology and automation, 89% of surveyed shoppers agree that self-checkout improves their shopping experience. Additionally, self-checkout has become even more relevant during this pandemic as both shoppers and retailers strive to minimize in-store contact to ensure safety.

Returns are another pain point for shoppers and poses a significant challenge for retailers. Up to 51% of retail executives report that they have started or are planning to start upgrading their returns management technologies in the next five years. Meanwhile, 83% of retailers currently have or plan to implement automated inventory verification systems within the year to advance real-time inventory accuracy.

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