How Has Self Service Transformed Industries?

In recent years, it has become hard to think of an industry or sector which has not been dramatically affected by digitisation. And, whilst this technology-fuelled trend incorporates many aspects of everyday business operations and processes, for the consumer it has perhaps been the growing use of self-service facilities that has been most notable.

Self-Service Is Expanding

Whereas perhaps just a few short years ago, the term self-service referred simply to the buffet-style restaurant, now, the latest developments in scanning and transaction processing technology mean that it is revolutionising the customer experience in a myriad ways. From the now ubiquitous self-scan checkouts in supermarket chains, through to the launch of Amazon’s new Go and Fresh stores, it seems likely that the future will see us serving ourselves in almost any scenario. “Pay at the pump” at petrol stations allows drivers to avoid queuing up to purchase their fuel (present shortages excepted of course), and simply drive away after making a quick card transaction. Banks, too, are embracing self-service options, particularly after the effects of the Covid pandemic. 

The Future Of Shopping?

With the opening of Amazon till-free stores, it appears as though a new age of retail has arrived. Following on from its first store in Seattle, USA, which opened amid much anticipation back in 2018, the online giant has expanded its bricks and mortar venture, with the first of its London grocery stores opening in March of this year. Located in the Ealing area of the city, the Amazon Fresh store stocks a range of products similar to the typical supermarket, but the difference lies in the customer experience it delivers. 

In order to enter the store, customers must be signed up to Amazon and have its app installed on their smartphone, which is then used in order to scan through gates into the store. Once inside, smart sensors identify any items removed from the shelves, whilst cameras track customers as they move around the store, allowing the system to intelligently discern which products each customer has selected, and charge them accordingly through their Amazon account.

Why Self Service Is Good News

The goal of this new way to shop is to create a highly convenient, simple customer experience, according to the Amazon management team, but another plus point for the business is the dramatic reduction of staff required. Without the need for checkout personnel, the new Amazon Fresh store in Ealing will require only five members of staff to be present on its 2,500 sq ft site at any time, with a mere thirty employees on the payroll in total. As a result, the automation of the store will represent significant cost savings in the long run, making it great news for businesses which adopt the approach, as well as the consumers who enjoy the speed and convenience it offers.

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