Have you ever been in a situation where you were harassed by the over servicing shop assistants at the store?
In the service industry where the customer’s comfort is an important factor, sales staff’s too much attention and kindness can sometimes make the customer uncomfortable. This is why these days, there is an increase in preference for shopping alone without any disturbances. Consumer trends in our modern society are changing as platforms that use technologies such as AI, IoT, and Big Data are emerging.
Today we would like to introduce you to the era of “untact” where connections are increasing, and communication is decreasing. What is the “untact” era? And what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using “untact” technology?
# UNTACT, UN+CONTACT
UNTACT is a coined term that combines the prefix UN meaning no with the word contact. It means providing information in a non-face to face fashion and minimize the contact with people.
The “untact” technologies such as kiosk (unmanned vending machine) and chatbots are introduced, which removes the need for customers to receive help from the shop assistant when purchasing products.
With the emergence of generations where it is easier to click than to converse, the “untact” technology has been selected as the consumer trend of 2018 in Korea.
# Examples of using “untact” technology in our everyday lives
Recently, we can easily find examples of “untact” technology providing new services. “Untact” technology is shown in the life of the modern people who are reluctant on interacting with others.
Samsung SDS Nexshop
Samsung SDS solution Nexshop is a marketing solution that combines the “untact” technology. Nexshop effectively communicates product information to the customers providing them with a pleasant store experience. One of the examples of introducing Nexshop to a store, are automotive retailers.
Customers visiting a retailer can compare products using their smart phones that run ID cards or mobile apps, as well as customized content tailored to their needs.
Kiosks in fast food/large distribution industry, unmanned systems that can order and pay on a touch screen
Kiosk is an example that means unmanned cash register. Some fast food restaurants have kiosks that can handle direct order and payments without the need for a sales staff. Even the first-time users can order easily with only a few touches on the monitor’s menu icons, therefore the waiting time is shorter, processing speed is faster, and the accuracy is higher.
One of the largest retailers installed a kiosk in their imported beer corner and allowed the customers to scan the beers’ bar codes to receive information on the product. The shop assistant do not have to advertise the product to the customers, and the customers can easily get the information on which beer they would like to purchase. (edaily news, ““untact” marketing”, Nov. 22, 2017)
Department store AI chatbot appears
Another large retailer placed a human-like robot in the store. This robot can talk to the customers and act as a guide to the customers all while moving around on its own. It can recommend restaurants and places to drink and show you how to use the newly introduced virtual fitting services and the pickup desk. It can also support multiple languages therefore can even service foreigners in the area. (Asia times news, “’Artificial Intelligence’ appeared in department store … From conversation to sale” Feb. 28, 2018)
Some notable coffeehouse chains offer convenient services that allow customers to order through their apps and receive notifications of their ready products directly on their phone. You can especially benefit from these services during your morning/lunch breaks which are the most crowded times.
Therefore, the number of places that utilizes “untact” technologies to catch the customer’s attention is increasing.
# Pros & Cons
Pros of the “untact” technology is that 1) the amount of labor required for each employee is decreased 2) it provides comfort and convenience to the customers 3) and finally it provides the information the customers want immediately.
However, with the number of introduced “untact” technology increasing 1) person to person interaction is decreasing 2) and as machines replaces human workers, the number jobs available in the market is decreasing. There is a voice of concern about the cut off between people, and social concerns about the elderlies who will be alienated from the digital environment.
# Not a disconnection, but only an interface for optimal connection
“Untact” technology ultimately aims at a people centered era.
Therefore, to successfully spread the “untact” technology, it is necessary to constantly study how it will become more beneficial for the people. By using the thorough analysis and understandings of the people, the digital environment will have to provide an easier interface to the people so that discomforts and inconveniences of the socially underprivileged will be reduced.