Building toward a better future
It’s been well over 100 years since the telephone was invented. In that timespan, since Alexander Graham Bell requested to see Mr. Watson, it has taken many shapes. Back then, only in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that a powerful computer (once occupying full rooms of equipment) could fit into the palm of our hands. Now, the devices we carry in our pockets have full access to the entire World Wide Web in a few clicks. Some days, we are even reminded it can also be used for phone calls. The progression of technology since that first phone rang has leap-frogged us directly into the future. Not only in our personal lives, but innovators are constantly finding ways to make our professional lives easier, too.
The second you step foot inside a store, you’re instantly greeted with technology bringing the space to life and bouncing from every single wall. From the bright lights shining strategically down on products, the music pulsating through the aisles, the soft beeps at the checkout lanes and the plastic swipe sounds and screen taps of purchases being made, right down to the electric doors that slide open as you walk inside…technology is breathing in every single corner, eager to help improve our day to day lives.
Technology as a partner
Having some sort of technology companion while you shop is always an added benefit. But as a worker, having the ability to leverage new technology is the ultimate must-have for every single role inside of a store. Stockers can see, in real time, the amount of inventory in the warehouse and are able to put new items on shelves. Security systems provide that extra pair of eyes in the sky to prevent loss of product. Cashiers can quickly move items over the scanner to bag and move swiftly to serve the next customer. Nowadays, there are usually door greeters present to sanitize carts and keep track of current store capacity on a tablet or handheld device. And retail is always innovation; in some stores, robots are used to scan shelves and monitor inventory. AI technology and machine-learning are able to help manage demand. RFID chips can track products at an individual level to determine what stage in the supply chain journey something has reached.
It’s hard to imagine retail work without the amazing technology that's been developed to assist us. Just think - if a global pandemic had hit even just 5 years ago, without the technology infrastructure in place that we have now – it would have been a very different living situation this past few months. Curbside pickup, delivery services and BOPIS have become a way of life for most, and for very good reason.
Of course, it isn’t only the workers in the stores that benefit. Field service reps who are required to visit multiple locations to work rely almost solely on what resources, direction and info they can access from their handheld device. Having direct instructions on who they need to speak to once they arrive, having planograms laid out for them to follow while in the store and being able to attach photos of their work is a giant part of what helps them do their job correctly – and keeps them connected with their leadership teams.
Shrugging off the paper trail
The days of carrying around briefcases or backpacks full of paperwork, binders or files is archaic – and all but phased out in most places. The way technology makes work easier is the very reason why industries can thrive with quick service and large-scale tasks. The benefits of being able to access virtually any information you seek, right in the palm of your hands, is something that advances retail services every day. What’s available now to use is only going to become more detailed as time goes by.
Thanks to technology, every advancement made to benefit the industry is an advancement that serves the worker, as well. At the rate innovations are being launched - before we know it, we will be using some fantastical “blink to pay” technology and laughing about the old days when items had to be dragged across a scanner to purchase, instead of being 3D printed at home.
Next stop, teleportation!