The retail sector has emerged as one of the largest sectors of the Indian economy. Various emerging factors like the development of e-commerce in the 2nd and 3rd tier cities and the increase in the consumer expenditure capacity can be termed as the biggest driver of this growth.
This upsurge is set to continue exponentially in the upcoming year. The sector, whose market size was estimated at 672 billion, is expected to grow into a mammoth USD 1.3 trillion industry by 2020.
Artificial intelligence and cameras power next-gen shopping experience
We all know about Amazon Go – the much hyped and futuristic store – powered by full automation, which enables shoppers to enjoy a cashier-less experience. Simply meaning, a customer can walk in, pick the product of their choice and just check out with help of an app powered digital transaction system. This retail technology is fast becoming very popular.
Start-ups like Bungbox, based in China, launched such kind of stores two years ago. Currently, it has a presence in over 35 cities and operates more than 300 such stores.
India is also not far behind. Inspired by the Amazon Go Stores, A Kerala based start-up launched its flagship store – Watasale – in Kochi’s Gold Souk Grande Mall. Similarly, HyperCity also launched a cashier free store in Infosys amps in Hyderabad.
All these attempts to make stores smart is the hottest trend in retail now and bigger players are expected to hit play zone soon.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why big online players like Amazon and Flipkart are going after the acquisition of the offline chain of supermarkets.
Humanoids…the icing on the cake?
The buzzword “app, swipe and go” is has gained steam steadily. But, there are certain factors that will soon bother such retailers who have branded themselves as “cashier-less.” Regardless of how advanced the tech is at the moment, customers are definitely going to find it challenging to get answers to certain questions.
Where can I find xyz item?
How fresh is this fruit/veggie?
How can I download the app to generate the QR code?
Moreover, retails stores survive on operational efficiency. Having an empty rack of Mangoes during peak season would amount to great losses and negative ratings for the stores.
How can a store without human assistants around most of the time keep the inventory at check?
Several other dependencies would exist and these retailers can definitely not have humans around to take care of such challenges.
So, what’s going to be the solution?
These autonomously moving machines in the form of humans can not only add the “wow “factor but also welcome and interact with the customers, collect basic information and preferences, market new arrivals and also recommend suitable options to the customers.
Although not witnessed yet, the addition of humanoids is bound to happen sooner or later.