Photo courtesy of UNIQLO
Photo courtesy of UNIQLO

Consumers have become increasingly accustomed to performing tasks themselves, from checking in at the airport to checking out at the supermarket. The next generation of do-it-yourselfism could be unmanned retail, and its growth is likely to be driven by shoppers’ desire for fast, convenient services.

While the Amazon Go store is the most tech-forward example of unmanned retail, simpler solutions like e-Commerce pickup lockers and vending machines provide lower-cost alternatives for retailers.

“As you start to think about the idea of unmanned retail, it’s about trying to deliver on convenience,” said Bill Friend, VP of Fluent Commerce in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We already see small examples of unmanned retail, or self-help; if you go to McDonald’s or a supermarket there’s options for purchasing things without ever talking to anybody.”

Advances in mobile technology also will provide support for unmanned retail, according to Friend. At the Amazon Go store customers check in using the Amazon app on their phones, and smartphones can be used to open lockers without requiring a physical key.

As these systems become more widely adopted, more retailers may open unmanned concepts in U.S. cities, particularly in areas where convenience will be appreciated. Retailers have several options for their unmanned operations:

  • Cashierless Stores: By eliminating lines, this concept has promise as a destination for prepared foods and stock-up trips;
  • Pickup Lockers: E-Commerce can score points both in delivery times and convenience by deploying unmanned lockers; and
  • Vending Machines: Retailers can use this technology to make sales in venues where a full-sized store isn’t feasible.

Cashierless Stores Appeal To On-The-Go Shoppers

Cashierless stores such as Amazon Go offer busy shoppers a place to quickly pick up prepared food and other consumables. By eliminating lines, retailers can attract on-the-go shoppers who want to enter, grab what they want and leave without any hassle.

“I think where you’ll see it the most is where…