Retailers use digital technologies to navigate Covid-19 crisis

Retailers are shifting to use digital technologies to bridge the physical distance and navigate the Covid-19 crisis.
Samsung IT solutions for retailTech-enabled applications like virtual queuing, footfall analytics, contactless payments, self-checkout and chatbots have seen an uptick at point-of-sale for retailers.

Kroger has deployed QueVision technology to monitor customer footfall and activity inside its stores to curb the spread of COVID-19. The system can count the total number of shoppers entering and exiting the store using IoT-embedded cameras. It alerts operators when the store reaches 50 percent of its capacity, prompting them to open additional checkout windows to speed up the process.

British supermarket chain Asda has launched a virtual queuing initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, which allows them to register and check-in into a virtual queue on their smartphone and then wait until their turn. Shoppers can check the waiting time and choose a store according to their convenience. The new system has been trialed at Asda’s store in Middleton, Leeds and the retailer plans to implement across its stores in the UK.

Decathlon has partnered with MishiPay to introduce a mobile self-checkout solution across its 81 retail stores in Germany. Customers can scan the barcode of the products using their smartphone to get full product details along with offers or promotions and checkout with their mobile app. Once the payment is done, the RFID security tag on the product is disabled, enabling the customer to exit the store.

Lidl Ireland has launched a WhatsApp-based chatbot to help shoppers find out the least busy time for shopping at its stores. The retailer has developed the platform using in-house customized software to segregate waiting queues based on time and day. Using WhatsApp, consumers can text about the time and day they expect to visit a store, wherein the chatbot uses real-time shoppers’ data gathered from various local stores of the retailer to provide an ideal time to shop.

Venkata Naveen, disruptive tech analyst at GlobalData, said: “Retailers leverage artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR) to offer hygiene-centric shopping experiences to customers with contactless retail.”

Levi Strauss & Co said the pandemic is accelerating retail landscape shifts and consumer behavior in ways that play to the strength of the Levi’s brand.

“We are doubling down on our digital transformation, incorporating the power of AI and data science, and leveraging our iconic brands to have an even stronger focus on Gen Z and sustainability. We believe this will enable us to further grow our market leadership position and emerge from this crisis a stronger company,” Chip Bergh, president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co, said.

QLess, a line-management and customer experience platform, said its platform has become an essential tool in upholding social distancing measures by eliminating the need for physical line-ups. QLess enables virtual check-ins through a dedicated online portal with real-time SMS updates about wait times and placements in line. By enabling mobile or home waiting, retailers can reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Smith Micro Software launched a new functionality for its smart retail platform, ViewSpot, which will facilitate touchless in-store device interactions for consumers that visit wireless carrier retail locations.

Future Group, one of India’s leading retailers, will deploy o9 platforms to integrate Demand Planning (Forecasting), Replenishment Planning, and Sales and Operations Planning. o9 will support Future Group 1500 Stores across 450 cities which will include all retail formats.

“We will be able to bring greater speed and insights to our supply and demand planning processes and run our IBP meeting live in the o9 system,” Vivek Biyani, director at Future Group, said.

Walgreens Boots Alliance announced an expansion of its partnership with Microsoft and Adobe to launch a world-class digital experience and customer insights platform to deliver personalized healthcare and shopping offerings.

Rajani Baburajan