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Imagining Trend 27 September Sep 2017 1626 27 September 2017

Retail 4.0: the way forward for points of sale

What with apps and self-service tills, stores look set to change forever

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That the internet of things has been revolutionising the industry world is no surprise, but the retail sector - the last link in the production and distribution chain - is now also about to be disrupted by technological innovation. Retail 4.0 is the way forward - clearly online - for points of sale.

We have already seen it in action in supermarkets, with their self-service tills, and in McDonald's, which has introduced an electronic ordering service, also in Italy. Soon, however, we might start seeing entirely digital points of sale connected to the Net, without any real life staff to interact with customers.

Abroad, especially in China and the United States, this is already happening. In Shanghai, for example, France’s well known supermarket chain Auchan has inaugurated two stores open 24/7. What’s new, I hear you ask. The difference is that there are neither cashiers nor shop assistants: customers enter and purchase products via their mobile phones.

And this is no isolated case. In China, Moby Mart is testing mobile supermarkets on board self-driving vehicles. Customers place an order by phone and a few minutes later the supermarket reaches the neighbourhood from which it received the order. Needless to say, everything bought at the supermarket is paid for via an app.

In Italy, the company Miroglio has launched the programme entitled “300 in 300”. The aim is to revolutionise 300 points of sale in 300 days, under the banner of 4.0.

The Retail 4.0 innovation is also extending to well-known companies. Amazon, for example, has launched two revolutionary services. The first is Amazon Go, an experimental store opened in Seattle, where customers enter using a QR Code, pick up the articles of interest, and leave the store with ease, avoiding long queues and with no bill to pay. The app sees to everything, crosschecking the scanner readings with the video cameras in store.

Amazon’s second innovation is known as AmazonFresh Pickup, and allows users to order fruit and vegetables online and pick them up in store just 15 minutes later: on entering the car park, a scanner associates the order with the vehicle’s licence plate and a shop assistant comes out and loads the shopping into the boot of the car.

How about in Italy? Things are moving here too. At the start of 2017, the female clothing giant Miroglio, which sells successful brands such as Elena Mirò and Motivi, blazed a trail by launching the programme entitled “300 in 300”. The aim is to modernise 300 points of sale in 300 days, through investments in 4.0. Work is already underway, and focuses primarily on self-service tills and methods for tracking and managing products, from the warehouse to the time of sale.