The last three years have brought an explosion of new technology into retail spaces. Electronic shelf labels, virtual mirrors, and self-checkout are just a few ways brick-and-mortar stores are digitizing the retail experience. Retailers are confident delivering a highly personalized, zero-friction experience in a physical setting can improve the shopping experience and help them reclaim market share from e-commerce shops.
As they move forward, retailers must take care not to alienate older customers. These customers, many of whom avoid online shopping due to the technology, are now finding themselves face to face with new tech in their shopping sanctuaries.
As retailers move forward with plans to digitize their stores, here are two considerations they should take into account when designing and implementing new technology.
Develop a Simple Interface
A Pew Research study published earlier this year showed that older adults are using technology, like smartphones, more frequently. However, that population often grows frustrated with the technology when they struggle to get it to work.
Smart shelves, self-checkout, and smart-cart screens should be designed with older users in mind. Developers should create a mode with simple navigation tools that only include the most commonly used functions.
The language and instruction should be clear, easy to follow, and direct to the point. For example, color-coded design elements can make it easier for older consumers to find what they need and experience a frictionless shopping experience.
Retain Human Employees
It’s tempting to replace as many humans as possible with machines. However, older shoppers are more comfortable with technology when they know they can get human help.
Technology isn't always intuitive. Having employees in-store to answer questions or help older customers as they traverse the store will improve the shopper’s experience. Employees should be available to demonstrate how the system works, show how self-checkout works, and assist shoppers when they're looking for items.
As part of training, employees should learn how to help older shoppers use technology. Consumers will feel more comfortable shopping in a store where they don’t feel confused and frustrated.
Embracing Tech While Ensuring it's Inclusive
In the three decades that have passed since Amazon.com first came online, we’ve seen an unending trail of brick-and-mortar stores that couldn’t compete with their digital rivals.
For the first time, brick-and-mortar retailers have the tools they need to fight back. Embracing digital technology and creating an online-like in-store experience is vital in their battle for customers.
However, as retailers move forward, they need to continue to accommodate older shoppers. Every digital step forward must take the technology learning curve into account. Furthermore, they must build accessibility throughout the retail experience, which will ensure that older customers feel comfortable when they come into a store.
Raz Golan is the CEO and co-founder of Shopic, a company that provides smart cart and store digitalization solutions to the world’s leading grocers, bringing the advantages of online commerce to their physical stores.
Raz Golan is the CEO and co-founder of Shopic.
A veteran of the 8200 unit of the Israeli Intelligence Corps, Raz is a seasoned product leader with over a decade of experience in research, product management, intelligence and R&D. Prior to his army service, Raz started a Bachelor’s degree at the age of 14, during high school, and co-founded Sikumuna.co.il, Israel’s largest studying materials website.
After completing the army service, Raz joined Checkpoint as a Security Researcher, then joined Semanix’s (a start up developing NLP algorithms) founding team as VP Product.