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Master thesis looks at new technologies in retail

Rebecca Zerbo MA is a graduate of IMC Krems’ Digital Business Innovation and Transformation degree programme. Her master thesis examined customer attitudes to new technologies in retail, and made recommendations about the most effective applications of these technologies for retailers. Rebecca’s paper won third place in the Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) Academic Student Award . 

Past masters: outstanding theses take centre stage. Rebecca Zerbo MA, a graduate of the Digital Business Innovation and Transformation degree programme at IMC Krems, won third place for her master thesis in the ECR Academic Student Award.

New technologies enhance shopping experience  

The thesis investigates ways in which bricks-and-mortar retailers can use interactive point-of-sale technologies in order to improve the shopping experience and remain competitive against online sellers. The analysis was based on a survey of customer behaviour. The willingness to use these technologies – such as smart mirrors, zero-touch checkouts and virtual assistants – and interest in deploying them was also assessed. “The results show that the willingness is definitely there, provided the technologies contribute to making the shopping experience simpler, faster and more pleasant, for instance by enabling people to find items more quickly or reducing queuing times. So the convenience factor is far more important than the entertainment aspect,” Rebecca explains. The thesis focused primarily on non-food retail, analysing technologies that are relevant for retailers in the textiles sector, as well as furniture and DIY stores and the like. 

Drawing conclusions for retailers

In her thesis, Zerbo formulated recommendations for retailers which will enable them to evaluate their customers’ attitudes to new technologies in advance, and use this information to decide whether it makes sense to install the technologies. “No-one can ignore the topics of innovation and digitalisation any more, and that includes the retail sector. I’m really pleased that the ECR members found the results of the study relevant and actionable, and of course it was great to win the ECR Award in recognition of my thesis,” said the proud graduate.  

About the ECR Academic Student Award

The prize is presented by ECR Austria. At present, the organisation has 122 member companies, which collaborate at various points along the value chain with the aim of meeting consumers’ needs better, more quickly and more cost-effectively. The award is designed to promote cooperation with universities and other higher education institutions.  

About Rebecca Zerbo 

After completing her bachelor degree at Saxion University of Applied Sciences  in the Netherlands, Rebecca Zerbo worked for Calzedonia as a regional manager. She then moved to Eni Austria, where she was responsible for category management in the stores at the company’s filling stations. Rebecca finished her part-time Digital Business Innovation and Transformation degree at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems in autumn 2020, and in January 2021 she will start a new job at a consultancy in Vienna focused on the customer experience. “I chose this programme because I find everything connected with digitalisation and innovation totally fascinating. What’s more, I think the working environment in these fields is very dynamic and fast-moving, which is another incentive,” Rebecca adds.

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