Technology is really changing the lives of consumers the world over. Among the technological innovations that Australians could look forward to in the future that would make life easier for them is not falling in line at supermarket check-out counters.
It would be made possible by the use of the radio tags to be attached on grocery items which do away with the individual scanning of bar codes at the checkout counter. Instead, a whole grocery cart is passed through security markers and then the bill would be paid using credit card through smartphone apps.
Coles plans to use such technological innovations in the future, Coles Managing Director Ian McLeod said at a retail forum in Sydney on Wednesday.
“The smartphone is going to be so much more important to people going forward…. I can envisage stores where people have all their credit details in their phone and are able to pay without physically having to go to checkout counters,” News.com.au quoted Mr McLeod.
Similar systems have been tried elsewhere. In Germany, retailer Metro printed radio frequency identification tags (RFID) on items which were transmitted as a trolley passed through a security marker.
In Canada, consumers could scan the barcodes of items posted in selected high traffic areas such as bus stations, and the items would be paid for through their smartphones and delivered to their homes instead of the shopper going to the grocery.
However, for consumers who still want to see the goods physically before purchasing them, the Coles plan would be an alternative system of doing weekly grocery minus the hassle of falling in line at checkout counters.
Greg Fraser, senior analyst of Fat Prophets, said it would be a significant development for consumers since both Coles and rival Woolworths have successfully pilot tested self-checks outs amid wider acceptance of the technology among shoppers.
“Anything that helps customer service is a winner and if it makes the time spent in a grocery store less, it would be a quantum step forward,” News.com.au quoted Mr Fraser.
More Australians are altering their spending habits which have caused major changes in the country’s retail sector. It has particularly hit hard bricks-and-mortar retailers whose sales have plummeted despite deep discounts as consumers opt to buy online because it offers them the convenience of not leaving home while shopping and GST-free purchase for items costing less than $1,000.
An Australian National Retailers Association poll of 1,000 people found that 38 per cent used their mobile phones or tablet computers to compare prices in the past six months, up from 27 per cent in 2011.
Rather than go against the shift to technology, some retailers such as Big W instead released an app last week which permits buyers at its toy department to purchase play items online and on layby terms.
Online operations give ecommerce retailers the advantage of taking in orders 24/7 in contrast to bricks-and-mortar retailers which must contend with different rules on trading hours and trading days at different Australian states. Members of the ANRA pushed for a level playing field by a change in laws to make trading rules uniform across Australian states.