RIS: When it comes to grocery shopping, what gaps do you see between customer expectations and their fulfillment, and how can technology help overcome them?
Customers now vote on retail experiences nearly instantly using their wallets. And since standing in line to pay isn't top on their list, retailers are scrambling to create frictionless models that foster engagement that sticks as retail disrupts. Today, most retailers are hobbled by legacy store technology that specializes in lane-centric customer service. These solutions create a significant gap between current expectations and execution that, if not overcome, can lead to a precipitous loss of market share and position. Modern technology, such as headless retail-as-a-service, finally shifts the balance of power to the retailer by enabling them to design, build, and own all digital innovation powered by a single commerce engine. Technology ownership is now a core competency of modern retail operations as critical as merchandising, pricing, and the like to achieve success.
RIS: In the past year, what in-store technology have you seen produce the most significant bottom line results in the grocery business? What in-store technology have you seen with the best ‘wow’ factor? Is there any correlation between the two?
The rise in pickup and delivery options are producing significant opportunities for grocers to engage, serve, and leverage data to predict customer expectations and drive improvement to the bottom line. Innovative retailers, having proven the existence of a business case for these options, are now creating the technology infrastructure that gives them the control and power to think and act with a digital mindset across their entire enterprise architecture. The prevailing view is that delivering compelling experiences that delight customers via a state of the art platform controlled within the retailer's domain will enable traditional lanes to become obsolete naturally.
Cashless approaches, like AmazonGo, take the top "wow" spot by demonstrating the potential to reimagine the entire store experience. We see a correlation between the reality above and art of the possible concepts like cashless that enables retailers to gain the insight required to define their unique frictionless experience. To execute on their frictionless model, retailers must evolve from consumers of applications as they are in the legacy software world to contributors and owners who are empowered to imagine, build and deploy competitive differentiation in the new retail-as-a-service platform world.
RIS: How can a headless retail-as-a-service platform help remove retailers’ worry about the sustainability of experiences and solutions as they evolve to their next generation store?
Headless retail-as-a-service removes the worry of regret spend by ushering in a new era of empowerment to retailers who, to this point, have been dependent consumers of legacy store applications. Now, instead of using a set of applications to complete tasks, they have the control and independence to create unique digital experiences that cater specifically to their business strategies, brand objectives, and customer expectations. The headless RaaS platform allows them to leverage feature-as-a-service commerce functions to achieve the elusive omnichannel goal of build once, deploy everywhere. Retailers will now be in control of their "secret sauce" without being weighed down building and maintaining every commerce function powering their use cases. Once they create one experience, these same functions, integrations and flows are reused to power new experiences eliminating concerns over duplication and achieving the critical capabilities of today — speed, agility, and time to market.
RIS: Looking out two years, what do you think the grocery store of the future will look like?
We see a future where empowerment is not just embraced by innovative tier one players but is the standard for store technology. It won't be "if or what" you digitalize but how fast you continuously execute as retail moves to personalized experiences at scale. That will mean supporting engagement that transcends traditional expectations to the aisle, community, partners, at the curb, or wherever and however the customer chooses to engage. Platform leaders of today, like Amazon, Alibaba, JD.com, win by being ubiquitous and predictive. Next generation stores will leverage those strengths with the added capability of targeted personalization only achieved through the power of a physical store presence.