Over the years, there has been a growing fascination (and fear) of automation taking over the job sector and leaving hard-working Americans to fend for themselves. When self-checkout debuted, these fears started becoming a reality; and the rapid progression of technology means seeing less cashiers was only the beginning.
Late last year, Amazon introduced the concept of a “smart store” that lets shoppers speed up their in-store experience by eliminating the checkout process all together. This new experiment uses app technology and sensors to create the experience. Although it’s hardly the first or last of its kind, this is the kind of innovation that’s potentially changing the way we shop for daily essentials, and possibly the way we think of business altogether.
With the Internet of Things (IOT) permeating businesses and homes, it’s only a matter of time before small business owners become aware of their own capacity to jump on the tech bandwagon. Before you do, it’s worth considering if your buyers will even benefit from such a change. Wal-Mart has seen some setbacks with self-service initiatives, such as their Scan & Go app, since their consumer base isn’t quite as tech savvy as, say, Amazon shoppers.
As the consumer-centric shift continues, companies like Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, and Panasonic are doing their part to respond to consumer behavior. Take a lesson from the successes and missteps of those already on the path to boosting their tech capabilities and start carving your own path towards the future.
Our piece of advice: be open to the possibilities. Although embracing tech may not be the most practical thing to do right now, it can help to explore your options to see how your industry can benefit from automation or a change in process involving technology.
Whether it’s virtual reality, self-services, smart shelves, robots, or apps; think of emerging technologies as tools to empower your customers to interact with your brand differently and even invite new visitors who would have otherwise never seen your products or services. Just remember to adapt to your customer’s behavior. No amount of automation can replace your efforts to put your customer first.