Nabco Retail Shelving Systems
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The Future of Retail Shelving

Ryan Willis

We’re constantly hearing how the high street is changing, but just like their online rivals, bricks-and-mortar stores are embracing advanced technology to give themselves every possible edge. Interactive shelving, self-rotating shelves, shelf-scanning robots and even no-checkout stores are just a few of the innovations you can expect to see in a shop near you soon. But what exactly can business owners, shopkeepers and customers expect from these changes?

Changes in how we shop

The way we shop has changed beyond all recognition over the past couple of decades. Online shopping has taken the world of retail by storm and now consumers have much more freedom to choose where they buy, how they buy and even where they collect their goods from.

Click and collect, a shopping facility that allows customers to buy goods from a store’s website and collect them from a local branch, has merged e-commerce and physical retail outlets. For consumers, this allows them to collect their goods at a convenient time and location, while retailers benefit from online sales and increased footfall in their stores. The UK’s click-and-collect market is expected to grow and grow, increasing by 78% to £8.2 billion by 2020.

Another more recent development is InPost, which allows customers to buy online and collect their goods from a network of nearly 1,200 fully automated parcel lockers that can be accessed 24/7. This can provide unrivalled convenience for the customer and removes the queues that may be associated with click and collect.

Changes to bricks-and-mortar stores

Back in January, Amazon opened its first physical store in Seattle, giving consumers and retailers an idea of what the shopping experience of the future could look like.

The Amazon Go store has no checkout staff or self-service tills. Instead, customers enter the store by using the Amazon Go app on their smartphone. Hundreds of ceiling-mounted cameras and electronic sensors are then used to identify each customer and track the items they select. Purchases are billed to customers’ credit or debit cards when they leave the store. Following a successful launch, Amazon plans to open six more Amazon Go stores this year.

Consumers can also expect to see shelf-scanning robots in bricks-and-mortar stores in the near future. The robots are designed to roam the aisles and check for stock levels, pricing errors and misplaced items. The aim of the robots is to eliminate some of the more tedious jobs in retail stores and the expenses that go with them.

Changes to retail shelving

Another aspect of the retail experience that’s currently shifting is the shelving that shop owners use in their stores. Interactive retail shelving features electronic displays where price tags currently hang, providing pricing and nutritional information as well as video ads and coupons for products. Eventually, the interactive tags will also communicate with customers’ smartphones to alert them to products on their shopping lists as they walk down the aisles and highlight items that match their dietary needs.

Rotating shelves are another innovation that’s starting to appear in retail stores. They allow store managers and owners to get more of their stock in front of their customers and out on the shelves. They can also help to reduce wastage, particularly when they’re used to display perishable items like food.

Facial recognition technology is an example of a technological advancement that’s already much more widely used than many consumers might think. In fact, 59% of UK clothing retailers now use facial tracking to capture the faces of shoppers and cross-reference them with the biometric data of known shoplifters and criminals.

Big opportunities for retailers

The many changes to the high street bring challenges but also big opportunities for physical retailers. At Nabco, we create cost-effective, bespoke retail shelving solutions that meet your specific requirements and help you capitalise on the opportunities that come your way. Take a look at our shelving ranges or get in touch to discuss your options today.

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