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28. February 2022

Digital applications for stationary trade

Brick-and-mortar retail requires new concepts to leverage digital technologies. In the research project Retailization 4.0 at Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, retailers are being technologically equipped to support the strengths of local commerce.

Although the majority of sales in retail are still generated through analog means, the booming online commerce poses challenges to brick-and-mortar retail. To remain competitive, traditional retailers must continue to evolve in terms of distribution, assortment, and service. Simply transferring the assortment of a local retailer to an online shop is not always the best idea. “By doing so, they enter into competition with large online retailers, a competition they can only lose,” says Robert Zniva, retail expert and project leader of Retailization 4.0 at FH Salzburg.

Therefore, brick-and-mortar retail needs alternative concepts to leverage digital technologies for their benefit. In the research project Retailization 4.0 at Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, retailers are being equipped with technological advancements to support the strengths of local commerce and create more customer value. The goal is not to replace personnel in retail but to support them in their activities. Digital and automated services are intended to be integrated into physical store concepts without cannibalizing them.

Retailization_c_Retailization 4.0
Core team of the project (from left to right): Olaf Sassnick, Martin Uray, Christina Schlager, Tina Neureiter, Reuf Kozlica, Simon Kranzer, Robert Zniva (Photo: Retailization 4.0)

Industry 4.0 role model

Taking inspiration from Industry 4.0, technologies that are already widely used in the industry are employed. For example, sensors are used to measure customer flows at the point of sale to optimize assortment or product placement. Virtual and automated assistants are designed to support retail employees in improving customer service. The third technology employed is Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, which enables the creation of revenue-relevant forecasts using customer data. “With Retailization 4.0, we support the strengths of small-scale, local retail using existing technologies, allowing them to enhance their services and leverage their advantages over pure e-commerce,” says Simon Kranzer, also a project leader at FH Salzburg.

The project explores which technologies are suitable and how they can be applied in the retail sector, in collaboration with partners from the retail and technology industries. The research project began in July 2021 and is continuously seeking interested companies. In addition to transfer projects, a series of workshops is planned to provide retailers with accessible and independent information on various aspects of technology implementation in retail spaces. The transfer of knowledge to education is also relevant. The “Future of Retailing Dialog” introduces students to the latest technological approaches and innovative application scenarios.

Retailization 4.0 is funded by the FFG COIN program.

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