Retail Automation: How Can Repair Stores Stay Innovative?
We’ve seen this concept in fast food ordering kiosks, self-checkout lanes in grocery stores, and more recently, in Amazon Go stores, where customers don’t even need to stop to pay for their items. Automation and AI are gaining traction in the retail customer experience - let’s talk about what this means and how Automation can positively affect Retail Repair stores.
What is Retail Automation?
Retail Automation, sometimes referred to as A-RETAIL, is the process of using technology to automate the customer’s experience. This drives seamlessness and convenience for not only retail customers, but also the retailers themselves.
Automation, in general, is all around consumers today. Nobody wants to wait in long checkout lines or try to track down a sales associate for a more personalized experience. Some people don’t want to have any interaction with an associate to get what they’re looking for!
Where can we see Retail Automation today?
One extreme example of Retail Automation is the Amazon Go store. Shoppers can walk into the store, grab what they need, and walk right out without having to stop at a register to pay; the purchased items are then charged to their Amazon Prime account. To make this store possible, Amazon set up sensors, cameras, and AI to accomplish this.
What about some of the more common examples of automation? McDonald’s introduced ordering kiosks in some of their locations in 2018. Another common example is being able to use a phone (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) at checkout to pay for items.
How can Retail Repair locations benefit from Retail Automation?
A more streamlined customer experience would be the first improvement that a shop with Retail Automation would see. We’re not saying that you should install a self-checkout kiosk in your store; there are small changes that you can make to improve your customer’s repair experience through automation (more on this below).
Stores with employees that juggle multiple roles can greatly increase their efficiency using automated processes in their business. For example, if you’re the Owner/Manager/Technician/Marketing Team of your store, you can spend less time on menial tasks like inventory management or stock orders, and more time on things that will actually help you grow your business, like marketing or networking efforts. Additionally, depending on which Automation processes are implemented, A-RETAIL can help business owners with forecasting demand.
How can Retail Repair locations utilize Retail Automation?
It’s easier to implement some of these automation features than you might think. Here are a few simple ways to create a better experience for your customers, while becoming a much more efficient business, though Retail Automation:
- Install a feature on your website that allows customers to book their own repair appointment time without having to call. By asking the right questions, you could even provide an approximate quote for your services.
- Use an inventory management integration with your parts, accessories, and device suppliers to automatically place orders and update your stock numbers. If you don’t have an inventory management system that integrates with your supplier, look into RepairQ or RepairShopr.
- If you’d rather use a supplier website directly, check out special features like Mobile Defenders’ Cart Autosettle, which allows you to add items to your cart throughout the day and have your order automatically placed on designated days and times of the week.
- Use software like Hubspot to track your customers and set up automatic follow-up emails. Some POS and inventory management systems have a feature like this already. Your email could ask for feedback, a review on Google, or for an update on their repaired or new device.
- Turn your store into a “Smart Store”. Invest in Alexa or Google-enabled devices like smart plugs for lighting, smart home security systems, and smart thermostats. Although these devices may not appear to save much time in the short-term, they are very helpful in the long run. You could also use these as a demo to show customers if you decide to sell the same smart devices in your store!
What does the future of Retail Automation look like?
There is a lingering fear that one day, robots will take our jobs from us. In terms of Retail Automation, it’s hard to imagine a robot or computer providing a better or more personalized customer experience than a human. The truth is, nothing will be able to replace that “human touch,” especially when we talk about small businesses and local repair shops. As it becomes more prominent, automation will transform retail positions to be less focused on mindless, daily tasks and more focused on larger, customer-focused tasks that require critical thinking and problem-solving.