Interestingly, both approaches have a significant impact on the heart of the store experience — the point of sale checkout. Service excellence demands that store associates are freed from sitting behind the register, perhaps using portable checkout tablets to roam the store and interact, enabling customers to checkout where it suits them, not just in the checkout line. And prioritizing efficiency also demands that the checkout process be made as frictionless, and perhaps as automated, as possible to save costs. And while the ultimate manifestation of this approach is the “checkoutless” model, such as that implemented by Amazon Go, incremental steps in this direction, which use self-checkout or enhanced check out speeds, still require a fundamental POS strategy rethink. Whatever happens, point of sale (POS) is going to be at the heart of the re-invention of the in-store experience.
The key challenge, no matter whether you prioritize efficiency or service, is that neither approach can be supported by existing technology infrastructures. Legacy store technology is too inflexible to support rapid innovation, cloud services offer promise but not in business-critical areas, and it’s hard to drive efficiency. However, advances in edge technology built from the ground up for the store offer new options that change the art of the possible and allow IT leaders to create an infrastructure that delivers new levels of efficiency and innovation.