Deeper Dive: Worker Enhancement
Unemployment rates across the USA are at historic lows- 3.7% at the national level. What does that mean for retailers? It is increasingly hard to find good talent and hold on to them after they have been trained and are productive. What many are now doing is looking for ways to enhance the worker’s productivity, or in some cases use tools to design out worker staffing. A few ways the retailers are accomplishing this is unattended ordering solutions. I’ll share two examples in this space. Eatsa is calling themselves the “Future of Retail” and have set up their first two locations in downtown San Francisco. The consumer can either order ahead in their app or on the website, or at the location enter their order into a kiosk. The consumer is then given a number. When the order is ready the window inside the location will flash and alert the customer that their order is behind that door. The customer can then take the food and be on their way. It is simple and customer feedback is highly positive. One customer I interviewed said he was a “multiple times during the week visitor”. When I asked what he liked his response was, “the order is always correct, fast and the food is hot. I get a great, healthy meal and I’m on my way.” I look at this and estimate this location is doing $1M+ in revenue (based on prices/orders during sample time) and yet there is likely 2 workers manning the operation – the rest is their tech platform. Eatsa is also licensing their platform to others to spur faster growth.
Another example of unattended retail was at the San Francisco airport. Uniqlo – a retailer headquartered in Japan was selling “puffy down” jackets out of a vending machine. Think of the perfect situation- you land in the city from a warmer location and you’re already freezing just looking at the Bay Area weather. Just purchase a jacket and you are on your way! It also works for those who are flying to a cold location (Boston anyone?) and forgot the winter coat… pure genius and they had a variety of colors/sizes.