New wave of in-store mobile automation to hit major retailers in China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 2:15am

Telecommunications equipment supplier Motorola Solutions forecasts major retailers in China to drive a steady rollout of advanced, mobile automation systems in their stores over the next few years.

The US-based company said it would be involved in "a lot of high-level pilot projects that will happen shortly on the mainland and in Hong Kong".

"There has never been a better time to be a technology provider to retailers," Anand Mehta, director for Asia-Pacific retail business at Motorola Solutions, said yesterday. "The earliest candidates [for mobile automation pilot projects] will be hypermarkets and supermarkets because of the volume of goods these stores handle."

Walmart Stores and Carrefour, the world's two biggest retailers, have each built hypermarkets measuring around 18,600 square metres on the mainland. Besides these firms, Motorola Solutions' other big retail accounts include Hong Kong-listed Wumart Stores and Nanjing-based Suning Appliance.

Mehta did not provide investment figures, but said "a combination of software, hardware and services" from Motorola Solutions would help retailers deliver "personalised shopping and seamless in-store or online shopping experience" to customers. These include extensive Wi-fi links, wireless point-of-sale devices and mobile applications for customers and store staff.

"This trend is absolutely huge in Europe, midway to maturity in North America and will hit the Asia-Pacific over the next two years like a tidal wave," Mehta said.

The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates total retail sales on the mainland will reach US$5.55 trillion by 2015 and US$48.7 billion in Hong Kong the same year.