The digital world keeps blending with the real world, and it is evident in trading: more and more often we have contact with state-of-the-art technological advancements, for example when we visit a nearby shopping centre. Automation favours both customers of shops and marketers, who use proximity marketing, also known as bluetooth marketing. It is a type of promotion that consists in sending potential customers an offer or a discount coupon at the time when their smartphone is within the reach of beacons, i.e. special detectors fitted in the proximity of the main entrance to a shop. This is not the only area where beacons can be applied. In fact, they also interact with applications that offer customers internal navigation around a shop. Thanks to them, it is possible to determine the location of a given user with a high degree of accuracy and lead him or her to an appropriate section, or even a specific product. GPS technology and beacons are one of the examples that prove the existence of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), i.e. interaction of various devices connected to one another through a network.
Only this year, approx. 1.5bn smartphones have been sold worldwide, and chances are that this trend will continue, so it really pays off to invest in mobile solutions, like e.g. applications, or technologies interacting with smartphones. According to Deloitte experts, owners of traditional shops should try their best to efficiently benefit from the fast growing mobile technologies, as it is they which allow to effectively compete with e-commerce.
In 2016, sales in this area in Poland grew faster than the European regional average. In 2022, the expected revenue of e-commerce is expected to reach EUR 11.8bn, a 50% rise when compared with 2017. If the above predictions come true, in five years, Poland will be among the first five countries with the most important e-commerce markets in Europe. Also, as revealed by the research, as many as 54% of Polish Internet users are on-line shoppers, and fashion, electronics, and the media are the segments which enjoy the highest popularity.
Traditional shops in the era of the digital revolution
Over the last 25 years, the Polish GDP has doubled. Today, our country is the eighth-largest EU economy, and the Polish market is one of the fastest-growing world markets. Having said that, it does not mean that consumers give up saving. Owners of traditional shops know about it, as these places have over the last few years become so-called showrooms: customers visit them to do window shopping, and they do their real shopping online, especially once they have picked and tried on a given product. The reason behind this is obvious: online shopping is simply cheaper.
To avoid being defeated in the uneven fight with e-commerce, shopping centres have to respond to customers’ needs, bearing in mind that today’s customers go to shopping centres not just to do their shopping, but also to have fun – go to the cinema, go bowling, have coffee with friends, or simply look and draw inspiration. This trend will persist in the future, and shopping centres, regarded as modern meeting and shopping places, will offer their guests an extensive shopper- and customer experience, turning into shopping & living places.
Beyond the self-evident benefit for visitors, who will be able to spend their free time there without feeling bored, the shopping centres of the future will offer several facilities based on state-of-the-art technologies. Hands-free shopping is a service that consists in storing all the goods bought by a client in one spot, which he or she collects at a later stage, i.e. at the end of his or her visit to the shopping centre. A big novelty is also so-called single shopping packing – once a product’s barcode has been scanned, you do not need to take the products out of your trolley at the cashier. Payment for the goods bought can be made at the terminal, or with a smartphone application. Another significant facilitation is the “click and try” service, i.e. the possibility to book a given product – typically a piece of clothing, or shoes – in an online shop, and then try it on at the collection point. If a customer does not want to buy a product eventually, he or she can simply walk away, without having to go to the post office, wrap up a parcel, or order a courier, which is necessary to return things bought online that have turned out to be failed purchases. This solution combines the features of a parcel station and a stationary shop, and it is convenient both for the customer and for the owner of the e-shop.
The marketers of traditional shops realise that customers will more and more often buy online, and very often encourage them to do it by offering great on-line shopping deals for people who have just bought a product at the stationary shop. Thank to this, owners of real-life shops can take advantage of the popularity of e-shopping, which by definition does not favour them.
To put it short, to survive the rivalry with online sales, the shopping centres of the future need to offer their customers not just the possibility to do their shopping efficiently, but also deliver them the pleasure of staying in a modern place that boasts a unique atmosphere. In Poland, the shopping centre that operates according to this model is Posnania.
Digital trends in modern sales
In many areas of trading, people are more and more often replaced by artificial intelligence, as exemplified by automatic cashier desks in supermarkets. Although they still require a human being to remove the errors, reset the system, or help a customer to handle the device, it is highly probable that in the nearest future, trading in most shops will take place without any human interference, or at least will be reduced to a minimum.
However, continuous automation does not mean that people will no longer be needed. Technological development will cause the professionalisation of selected jobs. In trade, it will concern mostly sellers, of which the best – that is the ones who are most creative and empathetic – will specialise and will act as not just classic shop assistants, but also as concierges who, apart from selling goods, also sell the lifestyle. Telephone sales are expected to face the same destiny: anyone who stands out with their high interpersonal skills, persuasive power, patience, and good manners does not have to worry of being ousted by machines. What is more, their salaries are bound to go up, most probably because most telemarketers will be replaced by robots, who work quicker and do not make typical human mistakes, not to mention the fact that they are cheaper.
Technological advancement and widespread automation will open up the labour market to many specialists in e-commerce, data security, and IT, as well as to qualified staff from other FinTech branches, mobile applications developers, experts in process automation and compliance, software developers, UX experience designers, and big data analysts.