Marketechnics 2006: Technology and the shopping experience
By Ronald Margulis, Managing Director, RAM Communications
The nature of retailers is that they want to sell stuff that appeals to customers and they want to sell it in a manner that appeals to customers. The Food Marketing Institute’s Marketechnics Conference in San Diego this week featured both workshops and vendors that talked up the use of technology to make this happen.
One of the better-attended sessions was on using technology to improve customer experiences while shopping. Three specific tools were discussed by three retailers – Spartan Stores is using a variety of kiosks; Wegmans is developing a comprehensive, interactive web site; and Loblaw’s is installing self-checkouts.
The first of the presenters spoke of the results they are having. “Kiosks definitely enhance the shopping experience,” said Dave Couch, CIO of Spartan Stores. “For us, it’s been a very positive experience.”
The second spoke of the importance of technology to expanding the shopper base. “Your web site is a strategic communications vehicle to your multi-channel customers,” said Josh Culhane of Wegmans.
And the third gave a warning. “It is important to allow all of the same activities to be done by customers in self-check as cashiers can do in their lanes,” said Kevin Koehler of Loblaws.
On the exhibit floor, several vendors were hawking solutions designed to enhance the shopping experience. Galleria Retail Technology’s booth featured solutions that help right size the center store, so supermarket operators can expand the area devoted to the more exciting perishables departments. StoreNext showed Electronic Shelf Labels that offer expanded information available to the consumer. And there were many more.
Moderator’s Comment: How can technology best be used to enhance the shopping experience?
While technology can help automate certain customer centric activities like checkout and offer generation, it is best used in conjunction with a knowledgeable,
enthusiastic and motivated sales team. No technology can replace the good feeling a fellow human being can deliver in a time of need. –
Ronald Margulis – Moderator