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IXR: Innovation Expanding Retail
119021, Russia, Moscow, Timura Frunze 11, Housing 33


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Digital barriers: how to improve the perception of innovation in stores

Technological progress and a sufficient number of professional staff in the market allow retailers to work on alternative services. However, the development of tools is often hampered by consumers themselves. Psychological barriers drive customers away from self-checkouts and make them look in their bags for a card instead of using biometrics. Mikhail Gleba, technical director of IXR, told Sostav how to change the attitude to technology at the mass level, and what modern retailers are striving for.

Emptying pockets and hands is the main trend in retail

Consumer expectations, fears and pains are predictable - the direction of the market movement and technology development is determined by trends in retail.

The first trend is the transition of the industry to self-service and e-commerce. This is facilitated by an increase in the speed of life of consumers, digitalization, and a shortage of line personnel. CSR (self-checkout counters), self-scans, shops without sellers, information digital stands and terminals installed at retailers help to satisfy people's need for self-service systems.

The second trend is the use of biometric and voice services. The world develops modern self-service technologies, the global goal of which is to completely free pockets and hands. If at first it was planned to reduce the number of cashiers in retail, now the task is to get away from even plastic cards. The already familiar biometrics allows you to pay for purchases using a face photo. Voice identification is also being integrated into retail: now you can verify your identity in the store by calling Sberbank. Existing systems support the trend: our technologies, for example, have payment for biometrics and microphones for voice recognition. In recent years, Russia has been on the 1st or 2nd place in the world in terms of the use of contactless payments, which allows retailers not to be afraid to use these technologies in their stores - they will be perceived positively.

Changing customer experience through research

A technology implementation project is accompanied by a full breakdown of its impact on the customer experience. Marketers create focus groups, install systems in limited editions, conduct customer and employee surveys - the desire of both parties to return to using the service determines its further development. For example, according to the company's internal research, the pilot use of our CSR ended with an average rating of 4.7-4.8. This suggests that people are more inclined to perform operations on their own.

Of course, the audience consists of several groups - among them there will be people who come to the store with the desire to buy "the old fashioned way" and communicate with a real cashier. But the trend proves that the majority of visitors are more willing to go to self-service systems - where you can pay on your own and not interact with a person. The use of personal devices has become a habit, and people like to get the same user experience in stores.

Mainly elderly people stay at traditional ticket offices. It is more difficult for them to perceive new technologies because of the fear of the first attempt: if there are no assistants for CSR, older buyers are unlikely to go there. While in Russia consultants work for most of such cash desks - they help to understand the system, and some retirees are also drawn into self-service.

It's like McDonald's. How to introduce new tools without worries for the consumer?

Consumer fears are also based on geographic factors. Our experience of cooperation with clients says that the center of Russia is satiated with technologies, and for the regions and CIS countries they are a novelty. Now we are introducing CSR into the retail network in Kazakhstan - the curiosity of local residents wins: they are interested in technology and try to master it themselves. It is worth to thank the fast food, which has long ago placed self-checkout counters in the halls. People say, "Oh, it's like McDonald's." This is how the scenario of self-purchase is formed, regardless of the retail sector.

The least painful for the consumer is the introduction of services that are not associated with additional costs for the client. Unable to dispute the cost, the CSR client wants to pay the amount indicated on the price tag. For example, on European or American weight-controlled CSR, you can buy fruits, vegetables and other goods by weight. However, they may soon be abandoned, because product data is often incorrect, and people acquire a negative experience of interacting with the service.

It is important to understand that self-service systems are a technology that is very important to "make friends" with consumers. Here is our checklist for those who do not want to face customer misunderstandings.

  • Be relevant

The technology will work if it is relevant. Old women from an urban-type settlement will hardly appreciate the innovations, and young managers from the business quarter will gladly take advantage of your solutions. Study the share of non-cash payments, the number of queues, turnover and assess the feasibility of the tool in the area.

  • Prepare people for DJingtalu

It's not just about advertising a new technology, but also about its location. Focus on consumer flows and convenience: a person completing shopping must see the cash register and understand where to go. Having seen the terminals in advance, timid visitors will be able to observe the more daring ones and approach the settlement area with a relative understanding of the matter.

  • Optimize the interface

It is very important to adapt the interface for consumers so that the algorithm of actions is simple and clear. Ideally, customers should have an intuitive understanding of which buttons to press and where to apply the card.

  • Organize the work of your staff on CSR

Assistants should redirect customers to self-service systems, help newcomers trying to pay through CSR for the first time, and also work out any questions from other visitors. It is important with them to overcome the fear of devices and explain their work in time, before problems arise in use.

World experience and Russian retailers

Many Amazon customers have become accustomed to his digital experiments, but even for them, the new Just Walk Out technology, aimed at automatic checkout without checkouts, was introduced relatively smoothly.

The company opened its first store without cash registers in January 2018. Before that, customers were introduced to technological carts, then the option appeared in small stores, then in medium stores. Cashiers in such stores were transferred to the status of assistants - they explained the mechanics, helped to download the application and answered questions.

In Russia, we have gone from denial to acceptance together with the retailer X5. Two years ago, CSR was large and uncomfortable bollards with an old interface. Then the traffic was 15% - this is a relatively small figure. Optimization of the solution in all directions - changing the angle of the screen, more comfortable tables, working with customers - more than doubled the traffic.

The key indicator of such projects in global retail is the decision of users: voluntary or compulsory. Here's what a retailer can do:

  • Leave no choice to buyers

Remove ordinary cash registers from the store in a short time, leaving one for the sale of tobacco and alcohol. Such a decision will pay off at the expense of the wage bill: a reduction in cash registers will most likely lead to a reduction in the number of employees or the movement of personnel to other tasks - displaying goods or working with a customer.

  • Offer CSR as an additional option

A compromise for innovators and conservatives: keep a sufficient number of traditional cash registers and establish CSR in addition to them. We recommend this path, because it allows not only to retain the old audience of buyers, but also to expand it by attracting new ones.

"Don't ask the client, but give it a try." Are Russians generally ready for digital retail?

Research and statistics show the willingness of our people to face innovation in the store. However, analytics is always a little out of touch with reality - any survey shows a slightly distorted picture. We strive to test hypotheses in practice: not ask the client, but let him try the technology himself.

The pros and cons of interacting with a device are easier to recognize during use. If we anticipate that the visitor experience will improve as the system works, we make a quick decision, put it in limited quantities in select stores, and do qualitative and quantitative research. We interview people not in theory, but directly on the device itself.

The introduction of new products should always be accompanied by marketing activities - they prepare visitors to use new products. The main thing here is the correct display of the self-service zone. Practice has shown that one of the most effective solutions for CSR is cash desk reversal. The curbstone needs to be turned 10-15% towards the sales area so that a person can see the screen of the device and want to go there. It is these little things that make up the buyer's readiness for a new experience.

The first contact will also be facilitated by prompts - for example, vinyl stickers indicating where to put the shopping basket or place a bag with an already scanned item. Modern Russians are also stimulated by additional loyalty programs that provide discounts or increased cashback when using CSR.