With the advent of e-commerce and then its gaining popularity, several retail businesses including convenience stores, a bakery or even a simple hardware shop, suffered major setbacks and losses. With e-commerce coming with several advantages, such as online data, convenience and accessibility, much retail business was unable to compete and was destroyed and wiped out. Even large players such as the DMart franchise suffered in returns after the market dynamic had shifted to preferring the likes of Amazon. So, if you were a brick and mortar hardware store, you might have faced competition from e-commerce. This technology-based competition can now work to your advantage. In the current times, there is a change in the traditional retail milieu. It is no longer just a brick and mortar store; it too has gone high tech.
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How it will Change
There is enough technology to create smart shopping for hardware, too. It is time for traditional retailers to compete with e-commerce by employing the very technologies used by e-commerce. And go a step further to use the technology to its own physical and personal advantage.
And furthermore, with the current pandemic situation, people are extremely reluctant to go shopping at a physical store where they will need to be in close vicinity of other people. Even a simple trip to the hardware store to replace that busted bulb in the kitchen might feel like playing a game of Rusiian Roulette!
With the buyer terrain changing rapidly, increasingly now retail needs to be employing technology to take on e-commerce. This applies to large organisations such as the DMart franchise and small kirana stores alike. It is possibly not a feasible idea for a physical hardware store to set up e-commerce, take online orders, and ship goods all across the land. This would not work as the items would become too expensive for the buyer due to added cost of shipment.
Brick and mortar retail had to bring in a hoard of new technology-based smart solutions, such as implementing smart retail technologies at the POS.
Types of Technologies That Will Help
The many technologies that are currently there and which can come to the aid of retail stores are smart cards, smartphones, IoT, online payment gateways, QR codes, and RFID. Retail needs to look at smart shopping and again provide its customers with that experience that is gained by being physically present at the retail outlet housed in a physical structure.
A hardware retail store modified for smart shopping of hardware shop would have several smart devices on location. Some of these would be smart cards, smart carts and smart shelves. The services of the store will be made available through the Web, via applications for smartphones, applications for augmented reality in the real store itself.
Such technologies are used with the intent to augment the store’s inventory and space.
How it Works
When a customer arrives at the store, an application that has been installed on the customer’s smartphone will be used to open the store’s door.
Rather than using a barcode, now all the products in the store will have an RFID tag. The customer will take a smart trolley that has an RFID reader, LCD module. As soon as a product is placed in the smart trolley, it gets scanned, and the expiry date, name and cost of the product are displayed. The total cost of all products in the cart is added to the bill during final check out. The bill gets saved in the memory of the microcontroller. Upon completion of the purchase, the purchase details will be sent via a GSM module to the customer.
With the changing technology and pandemic scenario, e-commerce is no longer the forerunner in retail. The retail stores housed in buildings are back with smart shopping or hardware shop, no contact browsing and checkout.
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