How to Be the Retail Rule, Rather Than the Exception
A recent Accenture survey revealed that 77 percent of Gen Z respondents prefer to shop in brick and mortar stores. Despite never knowing a world without internet or cell phones, research shows that in-store smart technology does not resonate with this generation as deeply as many would like to believe. Unimpressed with smart dressing rooms and payment solutions, younger generations are flocking to stores for the in-store experience -- while using technology as an aid. Today, traditional retail must bridge the gap between physical and digital. This cannot be achieved by eliminating key roles in the shopping experience, like Amazon Go has done by removing cashiers. How, then, does Amazon Go, almost relying solely on technology, fit into the future of retail? Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, should other retailers follow Amazon’s lead?
The novelty of Amazon Go has caused a stir in the global retail conversation. Some see it as another sign of the impending demise of careers in retail. With Amazon Go, the pendulum has swung far to the side of self-service as the company has maximized on technology and eliminated the value of face-to-face interactions. This is not a recipe for success for every retailer. This kind of disruption in the retail industry will likely cause a shift, with most retailers falling somewhere in the middle of the two extremes: tech-enabled self-service only or no tech-enablement at all. Thus, programs like Amazon Go’s will coexist with human store associates within traditional retail.
As members of Gen Z come of age, wise retailers should continue to invest in their people and the technology to aid associates rather than technology to eliminate roles.