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In-store tech will enable social distancing norms: Tushar Ved, President, Major Brands

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With retail stores opening post the lifting of the lockdown, in-store technologies – which have until now have been used in various ways aggregate customer experience – can be a huge enabler in managing social measures. in a webinar organised by the Retailers Association of India (RAI), Tushar Ved, President, Major Brands highlights how these technologies can increase convenience for shoppers and mitigate the risk of physical contact…
The Novel Coronavirus has had a colossal impact on the world at large – apart from the humanitarian toll, the pandemic has exacted a huge economic cost as well. The only known preventive measures so far are santisation and social distancing. In order to slow and even limit the spread of novel coronavirus, social distancing has been made mandatory by the Indian Government at all public places. The recommendation is to avoid crowds and to stay six feet away from people in general.
Retailers are practically applying these suggestions to their stores, encouraging social distancing practices for staff and customers, frequently sanitizing high-touch areas and encouraging staff and customers to follow best hygiene practices.
Amid stringent safety norms, Tushar Ved, President, Major Brands, feels that with retail stores opening post the lifting of the lockdown, in-store technologies – which have until now have been used in various ways aggregate customer experience – can be a huge enabler in managing social measures. In pandemic times, these technologies can help increase convenience for shoppers, while mitigating the risk of physical contact.
According to Ved, there are limited customer walk-ins in stores even though conversions are very high.
“With our experience in other countries, we have realized that when a customer walks-in, he has entered to buy something. Although consumers will still come to buy once the lockdown is lifted, s/he will demand social distancing and contactless experiences, which will come with the help of technology. I think the coronavirus crisis is going to drive technology to become cheaper. And we will see more and more companies using technologies such as
– interactive fitting rooms
– in-store Wi-Fi
– mobile POS systems
– artificial intelligence and virtual reality, etc.
These can all greatly enhance consumer experience without the customer having to come in contact with any person,” he explained.
Interactive Fitting Rooms (Magic Mirrors): When shoppers enter fitting rooms the mirror recognizes the products via RFID tags embedded in the garments. Images of the products appear on the mirror, and shoppers can request a different size or colour in the store simply by touching the mirror. When shoppers are finished, they can send the selected items to checkout.
In-Store Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi can enhance the in-store experience for mobile users. Brands can enable shoppers to visit pages within their apps containing reviews of the products they are browsing in store by scanning a QR code and barcodes.
Mobile POS Systems: One of the main obstacles that deter shoppers from coming in-store is the fact that they will have to queue to pay. By cutting out the queues, retailers can add another layer of convenience to the shopping journey, encouraging shoppers to come in, buy quickly, pay through the mobile POS and avoid coming in contact with anyone.
Virtual Reality: Retailers are innovating with use of virtual reality to spice up the in-store experience. Shoppers use virtual reality headsets with Oculus Rift and Leap Motion technology to view and select items. This technology has the potential to transform the retail experience in general, while helping people maintain appropriate distances.
Ved said his company will strongly invest in in-store technologies to encourage consumer confidence in stores.

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