Gary Piper is Sales Director at Derby-based Barron McCann, which provides IT services to customers throughout the UK and Europe, and works across retail, hospitality, travel, banking and payments. Here, he shares his thoughts ahead of 2024.
“When it comes to retail and hospitality, we can still, just about, refer to the ‘post-covid’ impact. The reason being, more than anything, is the shift in behaviours and expectations of us as consumers.
“Online shopping clearly spiked during covid but data shows that we are going back, at least in part, to visit ‘bricks and mortar’ and look for the shopping experience. Interestingly, it is reported that online sales increase by 80% when the retailer has a physical shop within 15 miles of the consumer. That brings an interesting dynamic to the balance that retailers are facing between their e-commerce and ‘bricks and mortar’ offering.
“What the consumer is looking for drives the technology offerings in play in the shops. Self-service terminals are moving at pace and RFID technology – radio frequency identification that uses radio waves to passively identify a tagged object – is now more frequently in use; that means just walking through a gate or barriers, with no scanning or bagging area challenges, with a payment card will become the norm.
“This is in place in a handful of UK shops already and will continue to grow in 2024. Equally, cashier-less shops using camera and avatar technology is appearing more and more, proving that the return on investment is becoming less of a barrier to entry.
“Hospitality is seeing the use of the same technology, and it’s been hailed a huge success. For example, at three football grounds in the UK, there are bars where the consumer ‘taps’ through an entry gate, picks up the drinks and snacks they want from a self-service counter, and leaves through another barrier. Their card is then charged upon exit. This tech makes it possible to purchase a pie and a pint at one Premier League ground in just 46 seconds.
“This does mean, though, that the retailer or bar owner need to carefully consider how they engage with the consumer to ensure that the ‘personal touch’ doesn’t fall away. Research shows that consumers appreciate advances in technology and so in-store apps, consumer wi-fi plug-ins, kiosks and customer-centric loyalty apps are a great way of meeting their needs.”
Gary Piper, Sales Director