You could be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic would consign bricks and mortar retail to the history books, such was the omnipresence of news articles predicting its demise. Yet whether it was consumers’ nostalgia for the in-store experience, their craving for human interaction, the unrivalled multi-sensory experience of touching and examining a product, or a combination of all three, it has since undergone a resurgence.
A quick look at the latest research into the future of the high street further illustrates this. For example, research from payments provider Tribe Payments revealed that 40% of e-commerce businesses in Europe plan to open a physical store in the next three years, while one of the key takeaways from Shoptalk Europe 2022 was that retailers are aiming to dedicate at least half of their selling space to shopping experiences, driven by the fact that post-pandemic shoppers demand more from bricks and mortar outlets.
And, it’s all corners of the globe that are witnessing this return to in-person shopping. In Australia, research by Monash University revealed physical shopping has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with Australians preferring to shop in-store across product categories including apparel, personal care and household goods. In Europe, footfall on high streets across Europe has increased compared to 12 months ago reaching 102% in France, 55% in Amsterdam and 49% in Rome. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales fell in both the UK and United States by 38% and 3% respectively.
One thing that retailers will want to ensure is consistent with online shopping is the ability to collect and analyze sales data to better predict and pre-empt sales patterns and behaviours. So what does this mean for retailers? Put simply, outfitting physical stores with the latest technology to respond to this trend will be paramount. But given the ever-shifting in-store demands for retailers, it can be difficult to know where best to invest. Fortunately, thanks to Checkpoint Systems, meeting many of these demands at once is now possible.
In October this year, the global leader in retail technology solutions added to its already extensive loss prevention portfolio with the launch of SFERO - a fully customisable, modular RFID as EAS solution for apparel with high detection performance to minimize losses and protect stores in new ways. One of the defining characteristics of SFERO is its modularity, enabling retailers to accommodate any store layout and design. Through a combination of intelligent pedestals and overhead antennas, store operators can create a sphere of protection that can be increased or decreased depending on the requirements of each store. Historically, it has been impossible to tailor protection depending on size of doors, and now retailers are blessed with the ability to tailor security to unprecedented levels; it gives them the choice to move away from one-size-fits-all systems, while altering the level of protection as the demands and size of the store changes over time.
The flexibility SFERO offers retailers is eye-catching, but it does not end there. It has also been designed to counteract shoplifters’ increasingly novel and sophisticated methods of achieving their nefarious objectives with an extremely powerful detection capability, in many cases greater than 95%. Through its customisable combination of antennas and overheads, SFERO’s detection capabilities exceed that of Checkpoint System’s own previous models, as well as many, if not all, of its competitors. It can effectively detect products hidden in backpacks and jackets, eradicating body shielding, so long a scourge in the world of retail.
Despite the pandemic demonstrating the esteem with which consumers hold physical shopping, brick and mortar retailers cannot afford to get complacent. Knowing they cannot compete on price or breadth of inventory; it is by delivering a frictionless customer experience where they can stand out from the crowd. SFERO has also been developed with this in mind. In response to demand for open entrances with invisible antennas, SFERO preserves a clean point of entry up to 6.3m wide and 3.5m overhead, incurring minimal visual impact thanks to highly concealed antennas. This helps foster a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere for the customer, whilst minimising stock losses. Conversely, overhead antennas can also hang from the wall, acting as a visual deterrent, proving its aptness for any retailer.
SFERO provides much needed customisation for retailers when it comes to RFID as EAS technology. But by being bolstered by sky-high detection capabilities and having been meticulously designed with customer experience in mind, it serves as a solution for any type of retailer.