Customers want self serve

It is clear that Australian retailers who want to remain competitive can not afford to ignore emerging self service technologies, as highlighted in a recent paper from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS), an exhibitor at Retail Expo Australasia, 14-16 August 2007, Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

At the upcoming Retail Expo Australasia, organisers will dedicate an entire specialist zone to Retail Technology, with exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge technology solutions.

Among those will be Jason Seed, Head of Sales and Marketing, Abuzz Technologies, who believes that self serve kiosks will be one of the most important technologies for retailers within the next 5-10 years.

“Self serve kiosks have made and will continue to make a significant impact on the retailing industry as they change the way customers purchase, and expand the reach of non-traditional products into retail stores. For instance, customers can now pay bills and buy credit for their mobile phones at a petrol station or chemist,” said Seed, who will be launching Abuzz Technologies’ award winning kiosk, the Edge, at the Retail Expo.

“The biggest reward is that technology like self serve kiosks and POS systems enables retailers to lift service without increasing costs. Staff can be redeployed from repetitive tasks to potentially more interesting and valuable roles.”

Epson Australia will also be exhibiting in the Retail Technology zone at Retail Expo, ensuring that all visitors are kept abreast of new innovation and retail practices.

Craig Heckenberg, Business Solutions Manager, Epson Australia, agrees that self serve retailing technologies are transforming traditional retailing methods as they allow customers to take control of their own transactions. He also acknowledges the challenges faced when implementing new technologies in a retail store.

“The most significant technological challenge facing the retail industry is streamlining the transaction process — simplifying yet at the same time ensuring reliability. This process is important as it is the last link in the customer’s in-store experience — it is the step that will reinforce the customer’s overall impression,” says Heckenberg.

Fellow exhibitor, Pronto Software’s Product Manager, Chad Gates, predicts that retail technologies will continue to evolve along the lines of increasing customer service speed. As a result, he forecasts customer expectations will rise, as they seek fast, efficient and friendly service. With the advent of self serve retail technologies, industry members must find other ways to deliver customer service.

“Retail is a multi-faceted industry and therefore requires multi-faceted IT solutions. Effective POS and inventory management systems, if implemented and integrated properly, combine to make a powerful combination for retailers who want to stay competitive,” says Gates.

“Retailers have to implement those ‘extra little things’ that will differentiate them from their competitors. Faster check-out times, more choice and better information will be the key — customers want their experience to be personal, without invasive time intrusions.”

In addition to its exhibition presence, Australian Centre for Retail Studies, in the Department of Marketing at Monash University, is Conference Partner for Australia’s leading retail conference, The National Retail Forum, which will run concurrent to Retail Expo Australasia. Both events are proudly supported by Platinum Sponsor Fujitsu Australia and Silver Sponsors Praestegaard Australia and QAS.

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