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One of the more exciting in-store retail technologies we study as part of our Retail practice is Personal Shopping Systems (PSS), a handheld or cart-based self-scanning device that enables retailers to personalize promotions and the in-store experience while also allowing the shopper to scan-and-bag items on the go. Although suppliers have long touted the value proposition of this solution, it is only over the past couple of years that global retail conglomerates have moved from pilots to larger scale deployments, particularly in Europe.
One of the more interesting trends for the PSS market is that just as the solutions are beginning to gain traction and scale, a new threat is beginning to emerge: Smartphones and tablets. These devices have the potential to integrate many of the same functionalities and values that PSS solutions offer, primarily through applications. For example, smartphone applications such as AisleBuyer™ (currently available on Apple and Android phones) have the potential to convert the shopper’s personal handheld device into a PCI-compliant self-checkout solution while also supporting the personalization of content and highly targeted advertising and promotions. Retailers could potentially refrain from investing in this solution given the high upfront costs for procurement & installation, lack of an established market for personal shopping systems and the threat of early obsolescence posed by emerging mobile applications.
Suppliers of PSS solutions are increasingly embracing this trend, with market leaders such as Motorola and Datalogic offering highly functional PSS devices that resemble ergonomic, touch-enabled mobile device solutions such as a smartphone. Not only are these devices well-aligned with the highly intuitive graphical user interfaces and applications that today’s customer base is comfortable with, but they are also increasingly resembling and being marketed as mobile kiosks or compact digital signage solutions.
Continued evolution in this direction could eventually enable retailers to bring the advantages of an e-commerce shopping experience to their brick-and-mortar stores as well as converge the benefits of multiple technologies into one device.
• In a recently concluded end-user survey of retail automation technology users, a primary adoption barrier for kiosk deployment was the high price of the hardware and the extensive integration required. PSS solutions could offer a more cost effective solution as well as minimize the installation/integration pains.
• Retail in-store digital signage deployments are currently transitioning from a more traditional ad-based model to a more specific and highly personalized platform – which is aligned with the multi-dimensional value propositions as offered by a PSS.
Our research indicates that hardware for personal shopping systems accounted for nearly $27.4 million in global revenues for suppliers in 2009 and has the potential to grow to more than three times that number in five years’ time.