Embedded retail and the legacy of lockdown


Changes in the way people order food and socialise mean the world is becoming significantly more automated. Embedded digital offerings, like apps and other prepaid options, allow customers to order food on their mobile phones and collect in-store, adding to the personal comfort of shoppers, and reducing the time spent in store, or in close proximity to other members of the public, which may prove to be an pre-eminent concern in a post-pandemic market.

Right now, while confined indoors for an undefined period of time, customers require digital payments and delivery services for anything from pizzas and gourmet food to bottles of wine and groceries.

Clever strategies for the implementation of embedded retail mean there needs be no loss of customer service during the transitional phase, but the period of closures and slowing trade due to Covid-19 could also present excellent opportunities for retailers to transition to touchpoints that consumers either need during lockdown, or will find reassuring when stores eventually reopen. Namely, those touchpoints that reduce the need for close contact with strangers.

Embedded retail aims to meets consumers where they are, which right now may well mean at home long term, and relying on delivery. However, a time will come when customers are back out in public, and the way they wish to interact (or indeed, reduce interaction) may well have shifted.

Pick-up only stores 

Chris Walton’s articles in Forbes explain the latest retail methodology, encapsulated under the BOPIS acronym (buy online/pickup in-store).

Trend-setter coffee house, Starbucks, has bolstered existing digital access mobile payment systems, wireless charging stations and Instagram pages with “pick-up only” stores. The mobile ordering app services 12 million customers and allows stores to focus their efforts on fulfilling orders, rather than taking them, alleviating time spent in queues. Customer satisfaction has increased as turnaround times improved, while online payments alleviate the need to handle cash, another key factor for a public health conscious consumer.

Pick-up areas are designed to allow customers the opportunity to interact with staff in a friendly way. The Starbucks “perfect drink” guarantee still forms part of the company culture, as any mistakes can be rectified on site. The elements of comfortable seating, great atmosphere, and after-sales service are enhanced by the ability to order in advance, leaving more opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment. Online menus include items like pastries, sandwiches and wraps, which enhance customer experiences.

Starbucks revenue is indicative of the success of the trend. In 2016, 38% of its earnings were garnered from pre-paid cards – around $6 billion in the US.  The enhanced cash flow has ensured an annual net cash benefit of $150 million from prepaid cards.

Most relevant is the customer’s overall experience. In recent years customers have demanded a faster, smoother and more comfortable retail experience, using mobile apps and placing orders in advance. The coffee shop environment is set to change just enough to streamline the ordering process without the loss of customer enjoyment.

By highlighting the benefits of a pick-up service and offering invitations to make use of mobile apps, customer communication is used to market pick-up options.

When customers can once again sit down and enjoy a traditional cup of coffee with friends this can be accommodated using mobile ordering, cashless transactions, and no queueing. To respond to these customer expectations, an extended version of the K3|imagine Café App, the Self-order App, is now available, allowing businesses to offer full meals and beverage to their customers. If you would like to find out more about the app, please contact us today.







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