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Strategy and Transformation

The future of customer experience foreseen almost 80 years ago…

What would you say if I told you that the Internet was not the first channel of that gave consumers a more convenient and automated way to purchase and obtain consumer goods? The Internet has given consumers a lot of power in regards to researching products, purchasing habits, and delivery options. It has provided consumers with the ease and convenience of automating their shopping journey. But this is not exactly a new concept, in fact, one grocer and innovator introduced this concept almost 80 years ago!  In 1937, history was made when a new concept was developed in how one shops for food – Kedoozle.  Kedoozle was a retail grocery store that consisted of larger vending machines that people could choose the products they wanted and it would automatically send them to the checkout counter.
An interior view of the new Keedoozle au

“Customers inspect the wares, each item in a separate glass-enclosed case, then insert a key in a slot under the items they wish to buy. Electric impulses cause perforations to be cut in ticker tape attached to the face of the keys. The customers take the tape to the cashier, who inserts it in a translator machine. That sets off more electric impulses which not only start the goods sliding down a conveyor belt, but at the same time add up the bill.”[1]

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Clarence Saunders was about 80 years ahead of his time with this concept and ultimately failed due to lack of sophisticated technology and heavy traffic.  But look how far we have come with technological advances and the Internet.  Can you imagine what innovative ideas Clarence Saunders could have developed in this day and age with the capable technology of today?
Today, local and regional grocers either offer online ordering & delivery/pick up in store or have partnered with others to offer the same to the consumers. All offer the convenience to their customers to be able to shop from the comfort of their home as well as decide to have their items delivered or pick them up in the store.  And this is even more prevalent to retailers outside the grocery world as many retailers across all segments give consumers the ability to control all aspects of the purchasing process.  Consumers are connected at every point and has given the retail world the potential to transform its industry as a whole.
Now that we know of the past was way ahead of its time and the present is charging forward, what does the future hold?  From point of sale to checkout to loyalty programs, the Internet of things (IoT) is going to continue to connect and change all of these actions in a radical way.

“As IoT technology deploys, retail stores will become more intelligent locales in connecting physical objects in the stores with digital processes, but largely in a favorable, behind-the-scenes manner, Dorf says. Through analytic data gleaned from IoT sensors, the intelligent store will give store managers greater insight into how shoppers and store associates interact with products and where resources need to be deployed to enhance the shopping experience.”[2]

Gartner reports that these items that contain this embedded technology with the capability to communicate with their “internal states or external environment” will generate incremental revenue to above $300 billion by 2020.[3]  Retail stores will become more intelligent with connecting in-store objects with digital devices.  Can you imagine walking into a store, picking out the pair of shoes or cute dress that you like and just walk out?  Well this could be possible through sensor technologies placed in the store (recognizing you when you walk through the door through your smart phone or something else), personal information stored on file, billing you as you “pass by” checkout.  Pretty amazing and scare to think about all at the same time.  It will definitely be exciting to see how the customer experience and shopping automation changes even more as we move forward into the future.
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Heather Bowman

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