As in many other sectors, new technologies and artificial intelligence have become a pervasive element of retail businesses. Still, there is growing fear in our society that that these kinds of technologies will end up replacing human personnel in an imminent process of robotization. This fear has existed since the Industrial Revolution when the Luddites resisted the growth of new technology, even though this revolution let humans perform fewer mechanical and physical tasks. A sector based on industry became a sector dedicated to goods and services, and the employees just changed. The next revolution will be the digital and automation revolution.
The McKinsey study “A Future That Works: Automation, Employment and Productivity” noted that while only a small percentage of jobs will be completely automated (5%), some tasks of almost all jobs (49%) will eventually be automated. In retail, for example, analytic and physical tasks will undergo a significant automation. But store employees only dedicate part of their time to these tasks. Automation of customer service and management tasks will be little to none according to the same study. A practical example is the introduction of electronic cash registers and barcodes in the 1980s. This didn’t eliminate the need for store employees, it just reduced repetitive tasks.
Beabloo implements intelligent technology in physical stores with the belief that these stores won’t disappear. People like to touch, feel and smell products, and enjoy human contact and personal communication. Tech solutions like interactive digital screens, bots and artificial intelligence won’t replace the staff in a store. They will only make work easier and more optimized which improves the shopping experience for customers.
Useful communication in real time
Digital signage can be used to communicate with employees by displaying relevant information in real time such as news, time, weather, store traffic, warehouse stock, photos and other useful information during the work day.
Messages can be updated in real time with the cloud-based CMS. This allows employees to work with updated, useful information and gives them a more effective communication channel to generate engagement and productivity.
Employee participation and engagement
Digital signage and integrated surveys are the perfect communication channel between workers and managers. Employees want to be included and heard, and these channels give them that opportunity while informing them of useful news, products, trainings, and events, which rewards employees for their participation. This creates a sense of engagement with the brand and improves productivity.
It is crucial to make staff feel empowered and recognize their own achievements, which promotes healthy competition between teams by using contribution statistics, for example.
Share corporate culture
Digital signage can be used to inform employees and communicate the vision, mission, values, key initiatives and new efforts of the company. Digital signage can help improve internal corporate communications considerably. This makes it easier to promote company culture and exchange values with employees, who become brand ambassadors with expert knowledge of the products. This can improve the shopping experience even more.
Digital signages channels are useful for engaging employees across the company since it shares information constantly and provides instructions to employees.
Digital signage isn’t the only tool that helps the staff. There are other solutions, like virtual assistants, that promote interactivity. They also improve the customer experience by providing audiovisual information about products, for example. Beabloo’s prototype Minerva unites digital signage and artificial intelligence. When integrated with a stock management system, Minerva can automatically display only the available products on the screens.
New tech solutions also collect relevant customer data (while always respecting their privacy). For example, interactive kiosks and touch screens that incorporate audience analytics can be implemented. This is complementary not only to the customer experience but to staff training and support. Machines can help improve customer service, but we cannot get rid of human contact entirely. Customers are grateful for a screen that correctly guesses which shoes they want. However, a store employee who knows more than the customer (thanks to analytics and AI) can confirm that the shoes look great on the customer and convert it into a sale.