Like many of you, I am thinking about what technological advances will come to pass in this new year. Each year, we make predictions in our industry about what’s next. However, we are often ahead of the game in terms of what will actually be implemented.
As the CIO of a company that delivers a modern point of sale (POS) experience, my goal is to ensure that each client who implements our technology delivers a fast, seamless and simple transaction process for their customers. Lots of predictions are being made about modern ordering and payment technologies, specifically around robotics taking over the role of humans. Imagine going to your favorite drive-thru, speaking with an AI-powered robot to place your order, paying via your mobile phone and picking up the order from a robot at the window. Or perhaps there’s a person at the window who can more efficiently get your order to you with the help of technology.
I believe the role of the cashier will change drastically in 2020. Convenience is king, and today’s consumers demand a frictionless, omnichannel in-store experience that is personalized and efficient. Businesses will benefit from offering this experience not only because it meets their needs, but also because it helps their bottom line.
According to Gartner, Inc., the future of self-service is customer-led automation. Organizations are turning to voice and other AI-powered technologies to achieve higher operational efficiencies, but consumers are equally as amenable to these technologies to improve their experience. Gartner revealed that “91% of organizations are planning to deploy AI within the next three years. By 2030, a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.”
But what are the technologies that will make their way into our daily lives next year?
Spotlight On Facial Recognition
As it relates to POS transactions, facial recognition will be used in precisely the same way you use it right now with Apple Pay, whereby you can authenticate purchases with your Apple Face ID. POS devices will be able to recognize you and access your order history and preferences, including payment options, making it even easier and faster to order and pay.
However, the use of facial recognition is coming under intense scrutiny due to privacy concerns and will have to clear some lengthy legal hurdles such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) before it becomes a reality for us.
What Comes To Pass In 2020
Here are three emerging (and very cool) technologies that I believe are starting to take shape and will change the face of the cashier in 2020:
1. Voice Commerce: E-commerce using conversation-based tools like chat, messaging apps and voice assistants such as Alexa. This technology is being implemented across restaurants and venues via self-service kiosks, drive-thrus and phone orders. McDonald’s acquired Apprente’s voice-based conversational technology in September of this year, confirming the convenience and the enhanced experience for both the employee and the customer.
2. Item Image Recognition: Amazon Go is the best example of a company implementing this new technology. The company says (via Thrillist) that “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning … automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.” Customers can pick out what they want in the store and walk out the door without having to bother with a register or checkout, and Amazon simply charges them and sends a virtual receipt.
3. Robotics: Little Caesars introduced unstaffed locations with pizza robots called “Pizza Portals” and says the robot is “the first heated, self-service mobile order pick-up station” in the fast-food restaurant industry. Customers place their orders and prepay using the Little Caesars mobile app, and they are notified via the app when their order is ready. They can then skip the line and get their orders. The technology is being rolled out now and, if successful, could end up being the new norm at similar restaurants.
Implementation And Impact
With any new technology, the question always becomes about not just the immediate impact, but long-term ramifications when it comes to humans and their jobs. Will I walk into Starbucks and see absolutely no people whatsoever? Will robots make and serve me the coffee, or will humans be involved in the process with more time to address customers’ needs as opposed to being stuck behind a cashier?
From my experience, digital transformation in the payments industry helps to enhance the customer experience while growing revenue and increasing operational efficiencies. Our internal data has found that using technology that provides an omnichannel experience and meets the customer where they are both increases revenue for businesses and shortens the time from order to delivery for the customer. This technology includes self-service kiosks, online and mobile ordering as well as back-end software that helps the cashier to have a holistic view of the customer. The bottom line is that enhancing the ordering experience benefits all parties
That said, what are some best practices when it comes to evaluating and implementing new payment technologies?
• Always evaluate new technology from the customer perspective. Ask yourself if it will make ordering easier, faster and more convenient.
• Implement in as seamless/frictionless of a way as possible. While giving people choices can be good, too many choices can be confusing. Guide people rather than just presenting options.
• Measure results. The best-thought-out ideas don’t always go to plan. Make sure the data supports the hypothesis.
The reality is that enterprise organizations across every consumer-facing industry must continue to innovate in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing automated world. Our own data revealed that in the next five years, frictionless payments will become an industry norm (the World Economic Forum predicts something similar) and a renowned focus on self-service technology will likely be the end of cashiers as we know them today.
Whether or not that’s the case is to be determined. But one thing is apparent: As we look toward the future, the time to evaluate the changing face of the cashier is now.