5 ways automated retail can improve the shopping experience.

By Jay Jackson

Discover 5 ways that automated retail can improve the shopping experience, including costs, scalability, portability, and more.

What do you think when you hear the words ‘automated retail’? For us, we think it screams opportunity! Let us explain… Automated retail is an evolution of a shopping experience that’s been going on for over a century. It is the process of completing a transaction without being served by a human.

If you look back, there were examples of retail automation as far back as 1883, when Perval Everett invented the first automated vending machine that sold postcards. Now, fast forward to 2023, and we have self-service petrol (and charging) pumps, fast-food kiosks, vending machines that make recommendations for the undecided snack enthusiasts, and much more.

But what’s the point of this revolution, and how is taking away the human element with retail automation, and enhancing the shopping experience for both customers and businesses? In this article, we’re going to explore five ways that it does just that. Read on to learn more!

It can reduce costs.

Replacing humans with machines has obvious cost-saving benefits. Machines don’t take sick days, they don’t need holiday pay, and they aren’t going to leave you if another company comes along with a better benefits package. Consider the cost of one worker’s salary over the space of a year. Even at minimum wage, it’s a steep figure for someone who still doesn’t have the capacity to sell your stock 24-7.

Automated retail solutions on the market can come at a price when it comes to implementation and innovation, of course. But their beauty is simple: they are unmanned stores that can readily work 24/7 and are, therefore, a more cost-efficient retail solution. Indeed, in Mother's case, these same retail solutions come loaded with a team of experienced behind-the-scenes experts to ensure you’re always one step ahead of the competition.

Take McDonald's, for example. Back in 2018, when they started to replace their cashiers with kiosks, they were rumoured to be costing between $10,000 and $20,000 per unit to install, plus software and maintenance - a jaw dropping figure made obsolete by the $2.7 billion in savings they are predicted to make worldwide as a result. What’s more, while you’re travelling, the universal usability that comes hand in hand with retail automation means that a cashier will never misinterpret McNuggets for a fruit bag again!

Depending on what sort of automated retail you’re looking at acquiring, it can save big bucks to set up too, leading us nicely to scalability.

Automation supercharges scalability.

Let’s look at vending machines. Distributing products across the UK (or beyond) cannot only come at a fraction of the price if your only outlays are machine purchase or hire, stocking, and fulfilment, but also means they can be distributed en masse too.

Scaling at pace is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to business. Look at our friends at Huel. Their range of food and drink products is known nationwide, partly because of their fantastic and minimalist brand, but also because they are always there when we need them.

As well as making deals to get their products in store, Huel worked with Mother to extend their reach in one of the biggest traffic hotspots in the world: Heathrow Airport. Huel used automated retail in the form of smart vending machines to grab a global audience on their travels. Scaling a business done right, we’d say.


Elevating customer experience.

We’ve all had those days where we just don’t want to talk to people, right? Well, automated retail is the solution for that. Cutting out human interaction removes another touchpoint from a customer journey, allowing users to get their products faster, with little room for error - and without the awkward chitchat.

What’s more, streamlining experiences through automation increases dwell time, opening more opportunities for upselling and product recommendations.

We’re sure you’ve seen the growing popularity of the self service checkout in supermarkets like Sainsbury's across the UK. It’s not just the volume of checkouts that is proving their success either - 95% of customers say they prefer using them, with 56% noting that they speed up the service.

Retail aside, automation can improve so much more through self service kiosks, as we’re starting to see self check-ins rolled out across UK and EU airports, and even passport control. The compact size of these automated solutions means that we can have more avenues to purchase in the space of one cashier, speeding up queues dramatically.

“95% of customers say they prefer using self service checkouts, with 56% noting that they speed up the service.”

Adapting to changing demands.

Having smaller and more compact solutions to purchase inherently means that there are more opportunities to offer a service or product. It can also mean that services become portable, allowing you to adapt your placement and distribution to changing footfall trends.

Look at vending machines as a solution; they can be moved to suit business needs, or to areas of heavy foot traffic that change on a seasonal basis. For example, during the British football season, you may want to place a vending machine next to a Premier League ground. But in the summer months, when football has dried up and cricket is more popular, you may look at relocating it to a more appropriate stadium - something that would be impossible to do with a manned retail unit like a store.

Boosting brand awareness.

Retail innovation can boost brand awareness, showcasing your company as an innovator and forward-thinker in your sector. For example, circling back to McDonald's, can you remember when kiosks were first introduced and you just had to check them out for yourself? Because we can. What starts as innovation soon becomes an expectation for a digital society. So getting ahead of the curve and adding innovative automated solutions like kiosks or smart vending machines to your inventory is, to say the least, a smart move.

Where kiosks are not for every retail business, smart vending machines have a broader application, and they can do so much more than display innovation, too. With Mother’s white label retail service you market your business outwardly on your machine, both through digital and physical branding, both educating and inspiring your customers - sometimes without them even noticing.

Bringing retail automation to your business.

If you’re looking to bring retail automation to your business to streamline your customers shopping experience, we can help you achieve just that.

At Mother, we offer both fully managed and white label service options, allowing businesses to seamlessly add smart vending to their sales offerings. Discover how we can make a difference for your brand by getting in touch and speaking to one of sales team.


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