There are many benefits to using technology in brick-and-mortar stores, such as improving customer experience through personalisation, increasing operational efficiency, and maximising store revenue. However, retailers’ approach to technology must be ethical in order to avoid negative impacts on their customers. Here are some considerations and solutions for retailers:
1. Privacy concerns:
Retailers need to be transparent with customers about how they collect, store, and use customer data, and ensure they are complying with data protection laws such as the GDPR in Europe.
They can provide clear, easy to read privacy policies which do not overwhelm customers and get explicit consent prior to collecting data, especially personal and biometric data. Allowing customers to control their data in quick and easy ways will also give power to the consumer and help build trust towards the business.
2. Bias and discrimination:
Retailers need to be aware of potential biases in the algorithms and data sets used in technologies such as facial recognition and product recommendations. Make sure the data is representative of the larger population and not discriminatory against groups of people, intentionally or unintentionally.
You should test data collecting systems’ algorithms for bias and discrimination to make them more reliable.
3. Digital divide:
Retailers need to ensure that their technologies are accessible and inclusive for all customers, regardless of their age, ability, or socio-economic status. They can provide training and support for customers who may be less familiar with technology, and offer alternative options for those who cannot or prefer not to use technology.
4. Cybersecurity risks:
Retailers need to protect customer data from cyber threats such as hacking, fraud, and identity theft. They can implement security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and multi-factor authentication, and regularly monitor and update their systems.
5. Employee displacement:
Many people are concerned about the idea of technology taking over jobs. Therefore, retailers need to consider the impact of technology on their employees, especially in terms of job displacement and automation. They can provide training and support for employees to adapt to new roles and skills, and ensure that technology is used to enhance rather than replace human interactions.
Overall, retailers can be mindful and ethical when using technology in store by prioritizing customer privacy and inclusion, ensuring fairness and diversity in algorithms, protecting against cybersecurity risks, and supporting employees through technological changes.