When it comes to technology in the retail consumer market Wal-Mart is among the lead dogs. When it comes to imaginative, if not bizarre ideas, they may be the lead dog. A Walmart patent application for a biometric feedback shopping cart handle was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, CBInsights reports. The cart handles could track the heart rates, body temperatures and stress levels of customers, possibly averting serious health issues in the stores.
Although I have no doubt Wal-Mart is sincere in safeguarding the general health of its shoppers you've got to ask yourself, what is the real motivation here. What data are they looking to farm? Will the cart sensors measure an interest level in a particular item?. Perhaps feedback on sales promotions. It has to be linked to business. Plain and simple. Why else do it? If so, it doesn't make them the bad guy. It does make sense to integrate customer purchasing habits to their general health. It's good practice to keep the golden geese healthy. Whatever the motivation for this creative approach to shopper habits it's going to have some effect on supply chain management. Logistics professionals are going to need to educate themselves on the new technologies and prepare their practices accordingly. After all, some of this stuff just may yield some unanticipated affects on supply and demand.
Whether the retailer ultimately implements such a costly system companywide is an open question. The patent application says the data would not be linked to specific shoppers. "It is noted that the biometric data and the cart movement data collected during the use of the shopping cart is not tied or otherwise linked to the identity of the individual customer," the company said in its patent application. But this does raise the question of whether this technology might prove too creepy or invasive for customers already concerned about privacy.
Robots In The Aisles
Lowes is testing robots to act as customer service liaisons to aid in customers' searches for whatever they may have visited the store for. I like the idea. I usually have problems finding an educated individual to help me. The upside is the robots will tell you exactly where to find what you're looking for. The downside is the robot lacks the extensive experience that a lot of the Lowes and Home Depot employees have. It's common for semi-retired contractors to work at the major home repair retail outlets and have extensive experience that they're more than willing to share with the novice plumber or whatever your project. The robot will, however, email or text a link to info from a Google search or a YouTube video to help with your project. "LoweBot", as the robot is called, will add a layer of support to amplify the trusted advice of Lowe’s employees as it helps customers with simple questions, enabling more time for employees to focus on delivering project expertise and personalized service. Having the ability to scan inventory and capture real-time data with LoweBot will also help detect patterns or gaps that will ultimately influence business decisions. From a supply chain perspective, robotic customer service applications may not affect the supply chain planning a great deal since the inventory data pretty much starts at the register it's still pretty cool. A much better use of retail technology than the universally despised "self-checkout" kiosk. Someone someday is gonna take one of those out with a large caliber armament. I'm sure of it.
High Supply Chain Efficiency
The present-day customer tends to have a ‘buy-now’ mindset and expects a faultless service through the entire life-cycle of the order. An annual study published in the Future of Retail 2016, shares that in recent times customers expect seamless and quick shipping, delivery, exchanges, and returns from e-commerce firms. Consequently, retailers need to focus on improving their customers’ shopping experience rather than merely increasing their customer base.
Retail technology is helping e-retailers improve their supply chain and logistics using the lean methodology to streamline these processes and eliminate inefficient operations.
A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers. Supply chain practices such as cross docking, direct delivery to stores, real-time delivery, third-party logistics, and cross-functional integration are playing a major role in making the business processes more efficient. Logistics and Omnichannel order orchestration offer retailers data on real-time orders, inventory visibility, order aggregation and fulfillment, and customer service, enabling them to optimize their supply chain systems.
According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper 2016, 38% of all purchases are made through multiple channels. Technology and social media are central to Omnichannel shopping. Shoppers are conducting online product research using mobile applications and going through social media ratings, online customer reviews, brand promotion videos, and product photographs submitted by other users. Consequently, shoppers use multiple channels to make a decision, selecting the products and services with fluidity. In order to ensure consistent profits, e-commerce retailers must improve their digital presence across a variety of channels.
Retail technology is revolutionizing online shopping by enabling businesses to adopt innovative ways to engage their customers. Keeping up with this tech will separate the leaders from the laggards. Stay informed on these and many other technology applications that are right around the corner. To stay informed subscribe to our blog www.Land-Link.com. As always, if you have any questions on how today's technology will affect your supply chain please contact one of our Logistics professionals.