The pandemic has created stumbling blocks for brick-and-mortar retailers to overcome, with lockdowns and, after reopening, great numbers of consumers still shying away from in-store shopping for fears of Covid-19 virus exposure. At the earlier stage of the pandemic, most retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and hospitality entities shifted their focus from enhancing the in-store shopping experience and increasing operational efficiency to implementing safety measures and forming online businesses to survive. Front of House displays are tape on the floor, signs for sanitized shopping carts and Plexiglass walls for social distancing while Back of House management involves inventory and fulfillment of curbside pickup and online shopping.
The good news is - there is an emergence of new ideas as well as creative business practices using innovative technologies to transition businesses for resiliency and success. The Front of House now includes creating efficient, safe and unique shopping experiences - making visiting a store and getting exactly what you need a breeze with robot assistance, self-service/minimum-touch kiosks, online ordering, curbside automated delivery systems and smart checkout. The Back of House is now utilizing warehouse robots for picking, fulfillment and inventory management. The scope has expanded to include automated logistics such as drone delivery, robotic packing and digitized real-time shipment tracking systems.
Challenging Times Create Resilience
With emerging trends resulting from the pandemic, fewer in-store patrons usually mean declining influence from brand loyalty. To combat this change, a great digital experience and well-executed strategies for online interactions can help brands communicate and influence customer choices for future purchases. Creative in-store experiences can also bring some customers back if the store becomes a place of refuge from the outside world and an exciting venue for exploration. This is where computer technologies such as digital signage, smart display modules, video walls and interactive kiosks can help. Such technologies can offer unique and personalized experiences that set the establishment apart from its competition – hence, allowing for resilience that translates into continued success.
Back of House Technologies
Fewer brick-and-mortar store visits and dine-in customers have changed the way retail establishments and restaurants operate. In the past, new technology might have been implemented mainly for operational efficiency - it is now also used to gain an edge. These advanced technologies have become a crucial and necessary tool to help a business adapt, stay in operation and succeed in the marketplace. Back of House factors such as product availability, fulfillment costs, delivery speed and inventory turnover remain vital considerations and are key to survival. Much higher efficiency is required and different innovative approaches on how to meet the changing trends translate into more products sold, faster delivery and less waste.
The computer technologies that help make this happen to require flexibility in adapting to the desired application’s requirements; rich features that can be customized; and high compatibility with related software and required peripherals such as cameras for AI/vision applications, RFID scanners, etc. The solutions can offer more than just the hardware. Manufacturers such as Axiomtek have offered great flexibility and ease of project deployment with solution packages that include industrial-grade computers, customized BIOS, choices of drivers for various applications, validated partner software and middleware, proprietary remote monitoring software and more. These market-focused solutions are designed to help system integrators/project engineers in charge of creating and deploying Back of House applications to easily achieve their project goals.
Front of House and Inside the Shop Differentiators
Our changing environments require the Front of House and inside the shop/restaurant to be much more engaging and adaptive. There are higher demands for curbside pickups, minimum contact services and efficient in-store experiences. These factors have increasingly become the norm. Whether these businesses are aiming to deliver more convenience, a higher level of security, or out-of-this-world experiences, the use of technology as a strategic differentiator has never been more important. Some businesses may use the available technologies as a way to deliver memorable experiences that set them apart from their competitors. For example, there are restaurants in many parts of the world that use robots to take orders and serve food, creating a buzz and high incoming traffic for the unique experience.
Axiomtek can offer personalized engineering support and comprehensive value-added services that help retail, kiosk/POS and foodservice system integrators and equipment manufacturers achieve their project goals swiftly and painlessly. Our specialized Intelligent Retail Solutions team can deliver all that you need - from solution conceptual design, pre-planned component considerations, project management and solution manufacturing - to deployment.