PwC with Frictionless Futures

Best Use of Thought Leadership

MCA Awards Finalist 2024The role of frictionless technology within the retail sector is evolving at pace. PwC recognised a key gap in the market for the latest perspectives on the opportunity at hand, within the context of broader technology trends, vendors, customer perception and the ‘so what’ for retailers.

A survey of consumers, combined with insights from PwC’s technology, market and business specialists, led to its 2022 report: The Future of Shopping. It revealed that 43% of shoppers would pay more for convenience, and that 75% of those under 45 would actively switch to a frictionless shopping technology.

The report’s successful reception with clients, and requests for more in-depth conversations, resulted in PwC taking the work a step further. It needed to create an immersive client demonstration, which brought the thought leadership to life and showcased the potential for retail of technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Computer Vision Artificial Intelligence (CV AI), and the data they generate.

The result was Frictionless Futures – a physical experience centre created by PwC’s multidisciplinary team in just two months. At the centre, in PwC’s Manchester office, clients can explore frictionless technology and its many applications for themselves, through a tour that provides three different perspectives.

Frictionless Convenience shows how ‘tap in’ RFID and CV AI purchase tracking can make convenience shopping quicker and smoother. Frictionless Retail reveals how the associated ‘big data’ can be analysed to understand shopping behaviours and enhance operations. Lastly, the Frictionless Venue demonstrates how tech-powered bars and kiosks can increase throughput and revenue. The first-hand stimulus of the tour is coupled with strategic workshop-based discussions on topics ranging from enhancing customer data, to managing cyber security.

PwC initially developed the experience to showcase the retail possibilities of frictionless technology, but it was soon stimulating interest among colleagues and clients in other parts of PwC’s global network, and they were keen to identify applications of the technology for industries beyond retail. This led PwC UK to adapt the experience to showcase the potential business benefit across multiple sectors and, to date, it has hosted more than 175 visitors from over 70 clients.

As a result of Frictionless Futures, PwC has been invited to progress several opportunities further, including a visit to Poland with a major multiple grocer to explore autonomous stores, and a demonstration at the National Retail Federation’s trade exhibition in New York. So far, the experience has yielded a strong pipeline of opportunity, and PwC continues to make future bookings for the Frictionless Futures tour.

Moreover, the experience has transformed PwC’s reputation among clients, established the firm as a leading thinker in the arena of technology and data, and positioned it as a trusted advisor that can harness and apply innovation across many sectors.

The programme’s multidisciplinary nature has brought the whole firm together, and demonstrated how working across sectors, territories and advisory capabilities can broaden and deepen its relationships with alliance partners and clients.

View the PwC profile in the MCA Members Directory.