Automation is increasingly becoming a point of competitive advantage and will play a key role in bringing customers back to physical stores, said a study by research firm Capgemini.
A study titled 'Smart stores -- rebooting the retail store through in-store automation' said that consumers responded positively to the increased convenience that automation could deliver. As much as 66% of the respondents said that automation could solve long checkout queues, 60% said it could improve placement of products and 56% said it could help restock goods faster.
However, to capitalise on the trend, retailers need to prioritise automation to provide a better consumer experience instead of looking at it just as a cost-saving exercise.
The report found that 59% of consumers who shopped at retail stores would be willing to shift their purchases from a retailer without automation to one with automation. This number increases from 59% to 67% for the 22-36 age group.
Automation also has an important role to play in bringing e-commerce shoppers into physical stores. In the study, 46% of the respondents stated that they would be willing to shift some of their online purchases towards digitally-focused physical retailers. The number rises to 55% for urban consumers, while it stands at 58% for millennials. On an average, automation could be a key factor in 20-25% customers moving from online to in-store purchases.
“Making the right investment choice and acknowledging the need for a range of deployments across different functions could unlock significant potential across both operational and customer-facing departments,” Tim Bridges, global head of consumer goods and retail at Capgemini, said.
Apart from advantages for consumers, Capgemini also said that automation could boost overall sales for retailers. Retailers with automation reported an 11% increase in sales. As much as 60% of consumers were willing to purchase from online retailers who accepted returns in physical stores and also likely to increase their purchases by 22%.
Capgemini surveyed 5,110 consumers across North America, Europe and Asia, including with 500 C-level executives, for the survey conducted between October and November 2019. The retail sub-sectors that were covered include electronics, grocery, home improvement, fashion and quick service restaurants.