Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers have come to rely heavily on technology to sustain business and improve the customer experience. As a result, many tech companies have seen immense growth despite the economic downturn that has accompanied this global epidemic.
These innovative companies have introduced solutions that are intended to improve the customer journey, while also ensuring customer safety and security during these unprecedented times.
Andreas Hassellöf, founder and CEO of Ombori, recently shared his thoughts on the growth that Ombori Grid experienced at the end of 2021 and offered his insights into what the company will focus on in the upcoming year.
“What a year we are leaving behind us,” he said. “This has been by far the most intense year in the history of Ombori. It has been full of challenges but also stories of great success. Let's review some of the highlights. Back in February, Ombori Grid raised close to 7 million US dollars, and, boy, have we put that money to good use.”
Hassellöf continued, “During the last quarter of 2021, we worked [more closely] than ever with our customers, fine-tuning some of our most exciting products yet. I cannot show them to you just yet, but they are very much focused on the three areas of Endless Aisle retail, Self-Checkout, and how to make assisted sales even more personal and informed than ever.”
Here is a glimpse of some of the key solutions currently offered by Ombori, and how these solutions aim to improve the customer experience in 2022:
Endless Aisle: Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds
Today’s consumers are demanding more options than ever before. They want the ability to visit stores in person, to physically touch and feel the products they want to buy, and to chat with a sales representative when necessary.
However, they also want the ability to engage in this experience digitally, via their mobile device, or utilizing an interactive kiosk. To meet these new demands, retailers have come to rely on Endless Aisle, digital signage that allows customers to browse products via an online platform while they are physically in a store.
How does Endless Aisle technology work?
Ombori Grid’s easy-to-deploy and fully customizable Endless Aisle technology allows businesses to put their entire range of products on display. It is designed for retailers that carry a wide variety of inventory, such as department stores, apparel shops, supermarkets, electronics shops, home furnishing stores, and gift shops. Once retailers install digital signage, shoppers simply have to do the following:
- Browse: Customers can view the retailer’s entire product range, including items and alternatives that are not currently in stock. Optionally, they can link to the store’s inventory system and find out whether products are immediately available, including those available at other locations. Customers can also download product information to their mobile devices via a QR code.
- Choose Delivery: If the selected item is not available in-store, customers can choose to pick it up from another location or place an order for pickup at a later date. They can also have the item delivered directly to their home.
- Complete Purchase: Customers can pay directly at the terminal using their credit card or opt to make a mobile payment.
Benefits of Endless Aisle
Retailers who leverage Endless Aisle technology experience a number of benefits, most importantly, increased sales. It also improves customer loyalty, decreases the costs associated with customer acquisition, and enables customers to shop even when items are not in the store, once again driving sales. In addition, Endless Aisle increases in-store productivity, reducing the costs associated with staffing and management, and it provides a plethora of accurate, real-time data that allows retailers to maximize efficiencies and keep in-demand items in stock.
Today’s customers are already reaping the benefits of this technology from retailers who use it. They have access to the store’s entire inventory of products, even if stock is low; they can shop in person while having items delivered directly to their home, and they can order customized products while testing out new ones.
Self-Checkout: Reducing Lines and Improving Customer Enjoyment
Self-checkout has become a necessity for most retailers today. It provides a mechanism for customers to complete their own transactions in a store without the intervention of staff or having to wait in line. Most self-checkout areas are supervised by at least one staff member who can assist customers with processing transactions, correcting prices, or providing additional service. However, shoppers have more power than ever to complete the process on their own.
How does Self-Checkout technology work?
The process of self-checkout is pretty self-explanatory. However, for those who have not used this technology in the past, here is a brief snapshot of how it works:
- Scan: Customers scan their items using barcodes, with the assistance of staff if necessary.
- Pay: Customers pay directly at the terminal using a credit card or via their mobile device using an app.
- Access a Receipt: Customers are issued a printed or digital receipt.
Self-checkout is commonly used at supermarkets, apparel shops, and electronics stores, but customers can now find this technology in airports, gift shops, bus and train stations, cinemas, and other types of retail locations. Thanks to easy-to-install solutions such as Omobri Grid Self-Checkout, leveraging this self-service software is easier than ever before.
Benefits of Self-Checkout
Self-checkout provides benefits to both retailers and customers. In addition to increasing revenue and reducing lost sales, self-checkout increases customer satisfaction by offering shoppers more choice and greater convenience.
Customers can avoid long lines and enjoy a faster checkout process by utilizing self-checkout. However, they generally still have the option to check out with a cashier if they choose. They can also enjoy a nearly “touchless” experience by utilizing mobile payment or a digital wallet.
Retailers, in turn, see reduced customer abandonment, increased customer loyalty, and improved staff productivity. They also have access to real-time data that helps them improve store layout and monitor in-store traffic to enhance the customer journey.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, self-checkout was offered as an alternative shopping method. Now, as customers have grown more accustomed to controlling their own shopping journey, they are starting to expect self-checkout as an option at more and more retail locations.
“There’s nothing new about the self-checkout aisles at grocery stores,” Andreas shared. “[However,] the technology is getting more sophisticated.” Spurred on by innovations that Amazon implemented in its brick-and-mortar stores, some grocery chains, like Kroger, have started to implement handheld self-service devices that help customers shop even more efficiently.
“Kroger’s Scan-Bag-Go system allows customers to scan items as they find them, placing them directly into shopping bags in their carts, and paying for them at the end of their journey. This empowers customers to bag and organize their groceries however they choose and avoid long lines, all while helping reduce the number of cashiers the store needs to bag groceries and operate checkout aisles.”
Making Customer Sales More Personal and Informed than Ever Before
Retailers are always striving to make customers feel special, and they can achieve this by approaching each one as an individual rather than just another customer. Grouping all customers together in a monolithic group makes retailers appear inauthentic, and nothing reduces the odds of landing a sale more than the lack of credibility – even if it is only a perception and not a reality.
Both Endless Aisle and Self-Checkout have evolved to create a seamless shopping experience for customers that is more personal and more informed than ever before. These technologies have allowed retailers to reconceive their stores, empowering customers to interact digitally with the physical space and supporting the customer journey beyond the front doors.
The Future of Retail Is Bright
Self-service appears to be the future of retailing, and any business that does not take it seriously may end up losing out. For one, it is an excellent way to attract and retain customers. A high probability of why consumers keep returning to a store is the way they are treated. It is why retailers promote themselves as being “customer-centric.”
They tailor their goods and products to satisfy the specific needs of their target market. Technology allows physical stores to do the same with their self-service systems. By gathering information about customers, retailers can create an experience that makes customers feel appreciated. A customer who enjoys the self-service experience is bound to come back.
Because the customer journey has evolved so dramatically, physical stores need to do everything in their power to meet the expectations of their target market. Ombori Grid, a leading tech company, continues to introduce innovative solutions to improve the customer journey. Although the details of its 2022 products are yet to be announced, customers can expect self-service technology to lead the way in the future of retail.
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.