- —DEEP AGARWAL Regional Sales Director, Indian Sub-Continent, Zebra Technologi­es, Asia Pacific

The Covid-19 situation has seen to a growing demand and need for click-andcollect orders and contactles­s payments. Here, Deep Agarwal, Regional

Sales Director, Indian SubContine­nt, Zebra Technologi­es, Asia Pacific, discusses some aspects of digital logistics

How will there be a boost for contactles­s payments?

According to Capgemini, over 82% of Indian consumers prefer touchless interactio­n during the pandemic, while approximat­ely 90% of them are comfortabl­e using their mobile phones for payments, especially for in-store purchases. Brick-andmortar retailers are already seeing a large uptake in the use of card and contactles­s payments, which reduces interperso­nal contact.

Many retailers are deploying mobile point of sale ( mPOS) solutions that

comprises a handheld mobile device with various payment processing tools, which enables retailers to scan items, process payments and print receipts anywhere.

Here are some ways, whereby, mPOS solutions can be deployed: • As click-and-collect orders increase, more retailers may introduce curbside pickup for online grocery orders to cope with the rising demand. Once received, they can quickly pick orders using data-rich images and pass up items that they know are out-of-stock. Subsequent­ly, they can pack merchandis­e and print receipts prior to the customers’ arrival to expedite order fulfilment.

Store associates will be notified of customer arrivals by sending real-time alerts to their mobile devices, and they can scan customer coupons or take additional payment and print receipts while the customer remains in the safety of their vehicle. The coronaviru­s pandemic is making curbside pickup much more valuable to customers, in US alone the number of orders placed online and picked up at bricks-and-mortar stores by customers surged 208% between April 1 and April 20 compared with a year ago, according to data pulled from Adobe Analytics. • Alternativ­ely, in-store shoppers will prefer shorter checkout lines and payment flexibilit­y where possible, which can be made possible via self-checkout solutions. According to the APAC Shopper Study 2020, self-checkout is one of the technologi­es that retailers are using to reshape the front-of-store experience. They are also adopting self and mobile checkout in more significan­t numbers. With up to 87% of the surveyed respondent­s agreeing that self-checkout improves the shopping experience, while 81% shared that they already see a return on their investment in self-checkout technology.

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, brick-and-mortar retailers were already embarking on a gradual digital transforma­tion to compete against e-commerce operations prior to Covid-19. As such, the pandemic will only serve to accelerate the growth of the on-demand economy through increased online shopping due to stay-home measures and social distancing.

Therefore, to stay competitiv­e, the only way forward is for brick-and-mortar retailers to introduce the right technology like mPOS, that can help them achieve more flexibilit­y, work efficiency, and provide a greater shopping experience.

How can digitisati­on of inventory help in the future?

Thanks to the on-demand economy, shoppers today are driven by an insatiable demand for 24/7 product search and purchase and a ‘I want it now’ mentality, because they can literally shop from anywhere and anytime. In view of stay-home measures and social distancing, the pandemic will only accelerate this growing trend.

To fulfil this shopping desire and the high expectatio­ns of today’s omnichanne­l shoppers, both online and brickand-mortar stores need an efficient inventory system that can provide an accurate, real-time visibility of their stock. This is especially relevant for brick-and-mortar stores. The top reason shoppers visit a physical store is to experience a product because it would be safe to assume that shoppers have already researched about the products online before visiting the brick and mortar stores.

Therefore, these walk-in shoppers will expect the store associates to have as much informatio­n as them, if not more. According to the APAC Shopper Study 2020, up to 59% of surveyed customers prefer sales associates to find the latest informatio­n for them, and the main reason for them leaving a store without a purchase is because of out of stocks. By knowing what is available, where it is, and exactly how much it costs, this will reduce the chances of retailers losing the shopper to a competitor who has that informatio­n readily on hand.

How can the enterprise­s develop smart warehouses for business continuity?

Warehousin­g, distributi­on and fulfilment operations are undergoing a modern-day makeover as they transform to meet the growing demands of the world’s instant gratificat­ion, on-demand economy. Faced with an evolving omnichanne­l landscape, ever-increasing volumes, faster delivery requiremen­ts and a global shortage of workers, industry leaders must modernise to keep pace.

While achieving flawless fulfilment continues to be a top priority for warehouse operators, increasing customer demands have forced them to focus far more on the bottom line. As a result, warehouse operators need to perform ‘smarter’ by operating as efficientl­y as possible, reducing error rates, and adhering to best practice.


While the pandemic has stressed few industries, the expectatio­ns of customers on receiving few products and services is higher than ever. The warehouses in these times must work harder to meet the consumer demands. Therefore, warehouses are now prompting warehouse operators to find ways to help their front-line workers to achieve greater productivi­ty and efficiency at work.

As such, we expect warehouse operators to recognize the importance to augment their front-line staff with the right technology to increase their efficiency and productivi­ty to cope with the situation and beyond. By providing them with tools that have a relatively low learning curve, their front-line staff will be able to shorten the onboarding time required and enable them to start using the devices effectivel­y at work sooner.

A good example would be to equip them with Androidpow­ered mobile devices. Besides being a useful tool that can provide them with real-time informatio­n that is needed to perform their jobs, the familiar Android user-interface enables warehouse staff to get used to the devices quickly, which greatly reduces the training time which would have been required otherwise. This allows them to perform at an optimal level much quicker. According to IDC, there are about 450 million smartphone users in India and most of them are familiar with the Android OS.

Do you see E-commerce to experience a renaissanc­e?

According to the APAC Shopper Study 2020, nearly 58% of surveyed shoppers prefer to shop with online retailers that also have brick and mortar locations, while up to 48% of shoppers prefer to make purchases via mobile devices and smartphone­s.

From the statistics, it is quite apparent that online shopping is a trend that is here to stay, while the pandemic only serves to accelerate this trend. Further, shoppers are bringing their expectatio­ns built online into brick-and-mortar stores with them. Armed with smartphone­s, shoppers expect store associates to have all the informatio­n they need on hand; what products are available, where are the products located, and exactly how much they cost.

Failing this, shoppers will not hesitate to walk out of the store and shop online. In fact, up to 86% of surveyed millennial shoppers and more than half (56%) of Gen X shoppers indicated they shopped in a store and left without a purchase only to end up buying the item online.

Yet, store associates are not always equipped with the latest technology to ease and enrich the in-store experience. In fact, up to 54% of shoppers felt they had better access to informatio­n than the store associates.

That said, while shoppers increasing­ly expect and rely on in store technology, they still want human interactio­n. Therefore, retail technology should strive to provide a friction-free shopping experience, with technology that improve self-service for customers and empower store associates to deliver a better shopping experience.

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