Supermarket chain Woolworths will invest about $1 million over three years for research into retail innovation.
The funding will create a research position — chair of retail innovation — at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), which will be held by Professor Jan Recker.
Recker will lead research in developing new identification methods for potential innovation in retail.
He will primarily focus on people, process and technology, which aims to improve the customer experience during supermarket shopping.
The three initial research areas will look into why fresh food operations are more successful in some stores than others, better ways to restock shelves, and to map out the retail experience of the future.
“We aim to identify the characteristics that make some fresh food outlets more successful than others and then develop ‘best practice’ policies for implementation across all Woolworths' stores,” Recker said in a statement.
“We will also develop new technologies and processes to enable shelves to be replenished more efficiently — a move expected to result in significant cost savings — and elicit the support of QUT’s design experts to devise business models for retail in the years ahead.
“Shopping has the potential to be vastly different from what it is today. We expect to pre-empt the demands of customers and work with designers to develop out-of-the-box creative models fit for the future.”
QUT science and engineering executive dean, Professor Martin Betts, said the move may help shape the future of retail.
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