Smart shopping trolleys improve the customer journey

Digital coin deposit locks can unlock far more than just shopping trolleys

Their basic function is extremely simple: coin deposit locks ensure tidiness in the shop, as the buyer automatically returns the trolley to the designated storage area. Digital coin deposit locks can do the same and even much more via digital reward systems. Keywords are customer loyalty, customer journey, big data.

The shopping trolley, more specifically the coin deposit lock, is the first direct contact with the vast majority of buyers in the store. Consequently, it is only logical to functionally integrate this process into the customer journey and then use the shopping trolley as the customer’s most important companion in the store. Niklas Kiechle, Project Manager Digital Solutions at Wanzl, explains how this can work – the Leipheim-based retail specialists have already developed a purely digital coin deposit lock together with JustTec, a Munich-based development company for digital locking and tracking systems: “The focus is on digitally savvy customers. The basic function of unlocking takes place via an app and NFC (Near Field Communication). We have deliberately designed our system as an open building block in order to be able to use it in third-party apps, such as those from retailers or bonus programme providers such as Payback and DeutschlandCard. This integration alone significantly enhances our partners’ apps as another function that is essential for shopping can be offered to users in digital form. We expect the number of users of the respective third-party apps to increase significantly as a result. More users mean more awareness and generally also higher customer loyalty.”

In addition, the installation of a cloud connector creates a “Digital Coin Deposit Lock Ecosystem”, which establishes continuous communication between all parties and assets via IoT-compatible protocols. Retailers can therefore reach their customers even before they actually enter the store with tailor-made offers and bonus campaigns via in-app advertising. This enables the cost of print advertising to be reduced. But it goes a step further. If logging into the app is linked to registration, it is possible to upload personalised advertising directly at the POS. Of course, the customer’s real name remains anonymous and all data is encrypted. However, the app can be used to track which products the app owner usually purchases, as well as when and where. In theory, this can even be done independently of the store via third-party apps from non-retailers. For example, it could be seen that on Tuesdays fruit and vegetables are bought from the greengrocer, on Thursdays cosmetics are bought from the drugstore and on Saturdays sausage and cheese are bought from the discount store. Either way, there is an opportunity to display tailor-made advertising in the app at the ideal time.

Retailers also receive important information for their shopping trolley management and the shopping behaviour of their customers. Every single shopping trolley can be tracked precisely. Where in the store is it currently? How often was it used? How many shopping trolleys are in use at what time? Recommendations for the maintenance of shopping trolleys and the number of shopping trolleys actually required can be derived from the data collected. In addition, the routes and the amount of time customers spend in the respective sections in the entire store can be tracked precisely and in real time. In the medium term, conclusions can therefore be drawn about the optimisation of the product range, marketing campaigns or the general design of the store. In addition, it is possible to react to normal peak times as well as ad hoc to increased customer traffic, which leads to optimised staff deployment and the avoidance of long queues at checkouts.

Wanzl Connect® acts as an overarching control centre: store management, inventory monitoring, analytics and recommendations can be fully controlled via the software-based platform. For this purpose, all the data collected in the store converges at Wanzl Connect® and can be displayed, analysed and evaluated via a smart device – including data from the digital coin deposit locks. Wanzl Connect® is openly programmed so that digital products from other providers can also be integrated. “In general, digitalisation in retail is advancing with great strides, but in Germany in particular, the complete transformation will definitely take some time. For this reason, we are already working intensively on a hybrid solution of conventional and digital coin deposit locks for the shopping trolley so that our retail customers can satisfy the needs of as many customer types as possible with the same shopping trolley. Shopping trolleys will also experience a significant increase in value through additional functions such as scanners, tablets and scales,” Niklas Kiechle sums up.