UK retail news is full of headlines about the pressure to seize opportunities presented by new technology. Much of the new technology being adopted by retailers focuses on managing and controlling their supply chain and stock more efficiently. This includes sensors to gauge not just the amount of stock held, but also its exact whereabouts and condition (such as temperature) during transit and storage.

However, the technology that has had the biggest consumer impact is that which enables ordering from computers and mobile phones. Technology for remote orders has made home grocery delivery a £10 billion sector in the UK.

High-street stores gain from remote ordering

Remote ordering technology is now finding its way into increasing numbers of non-grocery retail sectors too. Particularly as it gives bricks and mortar shops a chance to finally compete against the convenience and ease of ordering online.

It’s especially valuable for retailers who need to prepare orders quickly and create faster transactions – such as fast food outlets. Orders received by a mobile app can be great for avoiding queues at tills and having staff tied up taking orders at busy periods.

In the US, 25% of all Starbucks transactions are now done on smartphones.

Remote ordering in store too

Earlier this year, pub chain Wetherspoons introduced its Order and Pay app to enable customers to remain at their tables using their mobile phones to select from the menu and settle their bills.

It is the latest brand to realise that the easier you make customer transactions, the most cost effective you become.

Combining technology to the “human touch”

The next stage in developing remote ordering technology could well include a more interactive buying experience. In other words, adding back in a “human touch”.

Starbucks is developing a feature for its app which will mean customers can order with one tap, then communicate with a virtual barista. The technology then notifies the nearest store what the exact specifications of the order were.

Artificial intelligence of this sophistication is set to make ordering remotely even more responsive and adaptable. It will not only be based on the buying patterns that it captures but also adapt itself to changing consumer behaviours.

Amazon Go

Ironically, the value of harnessing technology to bricks and mortar outlets has not been lost on Amazon. It opened its first actual store in Seattle at the end of last year, creating a food outlet to pilot its Amazon Go technology.

This development also introduces an even more consumer-responsive system. Customers don’t have to choose and order in advance. They can walk into the Amazon Go food outlet, browse, decide, pick things off the shelf and walk straight out again. Shelf sensors log the codes for their purchases and bill to their individual accounts

Though so far there has been no firm news on the international roll out of this concept, Amazon Go has been registered as a trademark in the UK.

Having a strong grasp of technology is clearly a prerequisite for many decision-maker posts in the modern retail sector. Talk to the Anthony Gregg Partnership about “remote ordering” your next executive for a perfect fit.