Automated Retail Infrastructure

Pioneering Next-Generation Retail Automation

With the highest density of vending machines in the world, Japan is the undisputed leader in retail automation. The technology-obsessed nation has machines that sell practically anything – from hot and cold beverages, cigarettes, candy, soup, food to sake and beer.

Why is retail automation so ubiquitous in Japan?

The answer lies in their social and economic needs. Firstly, with Japan’s declining birth rate and an ageing population, labour is scarce and costly. Added to that, it has one of the densest populations with some of the most expensive real estates in the world. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the Japanese retailers embrace automation so readily and look towards self-service retailing as a solution to their problems.

One cannot help but notice the striking similarities between Japan and Singapore. However, even with the push towards building a Smart Nation, Singapore has barely reached the cusp of sophistication and tech-savviness that the Japanese possess in automation. Why is that so? We believe that it is because misconceptions about self-service retailing (or vending machines) abound. Here, we have identified a few of them:

Rapid advancements in robotic technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) elevates the user experience of vending machines. This eliminates the impression that these machines are mere mechanical boxes. Our next-generation automated retail infrastructure offers more than just beverage or snack dispensing. It involves a whole new self-serving experience that is interactive, multi-sensory, and multimedia-based.

Self-service retail platforms are now highly sophisticated and marketing-driven, featuring:

  •  High-definition, user-friendly touchscreen displays
    Virtual Assistants that provide smart product recommendations to up-sell and cross-sell
  • Chat Bots that communicate with consumers digitally
  • Multiple payment modes, including AliPay, AndroidPay, ApplePay, WeChat Pay, debit card, credit card, NETS, NETS FlashPay
  • Multiple delivery modes, including instant dispensing of products through automated drawers
  • The option to give out samples of various forms and sizes, such as bottles, products in plastic wrappers or cards.

New retail automation is exceedingly customizable and flexible. The overall exterior can be fitted with any shape or form to seamlessly compliment the desired style and brand aesthetics of the product(s).

A well-designed automated retail infrastructure is an emergent experience that combines the best of traditional and the growing trend of digital shopping for the tech-savvy generation of consumers. This platform provides comparable services as a conventional store – display of a product range and product information, cross-sell, up-sell and many more – it has added features, including:

  • Time-based discounts
  • Smart recommendations based on shoppers’ profile
  • Responsive sound system that is integrated with proximity sensors to attract potential buyers
  • Dispensing of product samples, which generates a feel-good effect and creates a paradigm shift among shoppers that vending machines are more than just about putting money in the boxes.

Trinax’s Automated Retail Infrastructure helps retailers monitor and analyse data more efficiently than a shop assistant. Cameras are installed at strategic locations to observe the traffic. The AI within the infrastructure constantly learns and evaluates potential customers based on interest, reactions and the probability of purchase. For instance, the system analyses the number of people in the machine’s vicinity, how many expressed interest or looked at it, how many engaged and how many purchased. Using this analysis, retailers can funnel and focus on enhancing the experience at specific stages of a shopper’s journey and improving the conversion rate at every stage.

The platform is complete with our proprietary Vending Management System (VMS) software that has an in-built agent-master hierarchical structure. This allows the landlord to manage multiple tenants (self-service machines) through a centralised platform. Its features include sending notifications on crucial information such as jams, low inventory and failures, as well as viewing and downloading of real-time data and reports online.

However, the true value of retail automation lies in its ability to minimise or even eliminate labour, which ultimately lowers the cost of retailing and improves return on investment. With consumers’ increasing capacity to interact with AI and smart machines, the road to self-serving retailing is promisingly inevitable.

Automated Retail Infrastructure projects

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