strong Influence of Technology in Retail Sector

Aiding the formidable and robust retail sector during and post pandemic

Abstract

With the fruition of technology, consumers are present on multiple channels which offer more opportunities for companies and marketers to know and understand them. Connected retail is a single hand formula which supplies a platform to customers where one can have integrated, digitally enhanced, in store experience that connects with and involves customers on both, virtual and physical world. Shoppers are benefited with a seamless journey to shop from digital to physical, linking up their online and mobile retail experience with their in-store experience.

Introduction

In recent years, the retail industry has changed leaps and bounds, in the way that brands target, acquire and connect with customers. Almostten years ago, the term ‘influencer marketing’ was never heard of and next-day delivery was almost like a bonus rather than an expectation. What’s more fascinating is that few people could have predicted their main acquisition channel to be a photo-led social media platform like Facebook and Instagram.
Today, customers are glued to digital communication 24/7, 365 days a year. They have the control to like, follow, and buy from their favourite brands on their own conditions, in the way that best suits them. In brief, one could say that the modern shopper demands more featuresfrom retailers than ever before. And the ultimate key to keeping them happy is to provide a connected retail experience – the one that is powered by data and AI.

 What is exactly connected retail?

“Providing a customer-centric experience, based on how customers approach shopping with no limitations by channel.” – Gartner
The traditional model of the customer journey is no more in existence, at least not in the digital world. Approaching customers at different stages along a defined path used to be a quite predictable business but today customers have total control of when and how they interact with a brand.At each and every point, customers expect a tailored and customized experience that offers them added worth. Therefore in a digital context, communications and brand loyalty becomes more complex, dynamic, and intuitive.Connected retail means to connect the customers seamlessly through personalized marketing, combining both physical store and digital experience, supply chain, diverse payment options and providing the capability to retailers to team up more effectively.
Technology in Retail Sector
It is just one part of a wider industry shift towards integrating the offline and online experience into a multichannel proposition where customers can move seamlessly across many different touchpoints. Multichannel approaches provide opportunities for both customers and retail partners. Furthermore, Connected Retail empowers companies to delight customers, transforming their experience with your brand, while allowing you to connect to a multichannel retail model, as well as a wider customer base and order pool with ease.

Connected Retail to meet customer’s new expectations

The savviest retailers have spent years forming Omni-channel strategies that merge physical and online channels to engage consumers in the channel of their choosing. COVID19’s impact on customer behaviour has reshuffled the deck. Direct interaction in stores has radically changed or been displaced by digital engagement, and early indications suggest that much of this shift may endure in the long term. Retailers should focus on five actions to build more pliability in their customer experience and to emerge even stronger in the revival.

1.Double down on digital

COVID19 has radically and unexpectedlyincreased customer traffic to digital channels. Seeing the facts, that online sales, which increased at a 14% annual growth rate over the past four years, grew by 25% in the last fortnight in March 2020 majorly led by grocery purchases. The deep impact of the pandemic on consumer shopping habits has increased the necessity for retailers to expand their digital presence quickly. It includes: –
  • Increasing the acquisition engine and moving to digital assets
  • Extending the digital-channel presence and engagement
  • Ensuring ‘zero friction’ in digital experience

2.Inject innovation into omni-channel

To adapt to new customer behaviours and preferences, retailers will need to evaluate their current omni-channel offerings and opportunities to innovate and fill in all gaps. Any addendums should be clearly allied with budding customer needs and integrated with available channels to support a reliable experience. It includes: –
  • Increasing Digital experience with an in-store feel
  • Initiatingand expanding delivery mechanisms
  • Partnering with others to enhance ease
connected retail experience

3.Transforming store operations

The epidemic has hobbled traditional style of store operations, with physical distancing and self-service changing the formula for customer experience. Customers try to get in and out of a store as quickly and safely as possible. Providing safer experienceswill be critical to assuaging customers’ concerns and enabling a return to in-person interactions. Retailers must apply policies and processes to enable safe distancing, sanitizing the store and communicate proactively, clearly, and compassionately. These non-negotiable will includenew safety requirements for both customers and retailers and also include no-contact payment methods, cleaning and employee-hygiene processes.

4.Reimagining the physical network

In the last three years, customers have shifted their purchasing style increasingly through e-commerce, which has led to ever-growing declines in physical store traffic. COVID19 has hastened this trend with apparel retailers and department stores, which are projected to see a 25% increase in online saturation after COVID19. The rising amount of e-commerce transactions has forced retailers to revaluate their system of brick-and-mortar stores and use them to best support the customer experience. It includes: –
  • Optimizing the physical footprints
  • Redefining the role of physical stores

 5.Embrace an agile operating model

Retailers and brand owners are continually reassessing their strategies. This new strategy requires more real-time insights on customers as well as a new agile operating model to yoke these insights and put them into real action.
With the continuous rise of digital in recent months, companies are having even more dynamic data at their fingertips. Companies can use these data to extract instant insights from these new customers and build targeted retention plans, messages and offers to maintain the customer relationship in this era of brand switching and cost consciousness. Social media is another channel that offers insights on rapidly changing consumer behaviours. By inducting agile practices into real-time consumer insights, retailers can recalibrate their business model quickly and offer better products.

What technologies can Companies offer to the customers?

1.Impressive Product Experience (Content for Touchpoints & Technologies)

Whether it’s an image, a video, or an interactive application, content must be placed in the context of the company’s brand, products, and regional markets in a visually arresting manner. A single-source publishing must be developed having complex data-based visualizations, combined with the knowledge of customers’ user behaviour and a holistic and integrated brand experience at all times and across a wide range of touchpoints must be created.

2.Interactive Touchpoints (Virtual Promoter, VR/AR & Mobile Devices)

Customers always want to experience company’s brand and story with all of their senses and across all channels. Interactive touchpointscreate a point of experience for target groups when installed in sales areas and showrooms or at event halls. Virtual Promoters are used to store reactions of people walking by and creates an extraordinary form of customer interaction controlled by gestures. Virtual reality (VR), mobile devices and interactive screens offer extra opportunities for interaction at physical locations and can also provide relevant information and tailored support along the entire customer journey.
Technology in Retail Sector

3.Location Based Services – Mobile Apps & Beacons Technology

Location Based Services are mobile services that are tied to a specific place, allowing companies to target customers at specially defined points of interest (POI). Customers simply use mobile applications on their mobiles or smartphones to receive germaneinformation, advices and fruitful offers.

4.Retail Management System

A retail management system is a cloud-based control unit that makes the centralized device and app management of the entire Connected Experience possible. It is used to configure, control, and channel content to all interactive touchpoints and the corresponding equipment. The data generated by the different devices is also centrally collected and companies can decide specific roles and access rights to specific users.

5.Software Integration – CRM, PDM, CMS

Companies can connect the CX Manager to interfaces in their existing software. This will take care of the interface integration to the CRM, vehicle database, and much more besides. A single management tool lets the companies control all hardware, software, and content. And this also means that all data is centrally aggregated, giving a comprehensive reporting tool to use when developing strategic measures.

6.Data Aggregation & Analytics

Every interactive touchpoint delivers a double benefit. In addition to creating extraordinary customer experiences, every point of contact delivers valuable insights into customers’ behaviour. As all data generated at all the touchpoints are linked, data analysis will be robust and conclusive. This empowers companies to understand customers better, continuously improve the customer experience, and respond fast to the needs and wishes of the customers.
Artificial Intelligence & Chatbots

7.Future Interface – Artificial Intelligence & Chatbots

The Connected Retail Experience is everlastingly in motion – because topics such as artificial intelligence and chatbots are the major ingredients of technological progress. So companies need to keep their fingers on the pulse of the times and be sure to use cutting-edge technologies at the points of experience. This lets companies to bring the innovative power of the company’s brand and products to life, right down to the smallest detail, in all their communications.

Conclusion – The secret to success – Embrace Digital Transformation

A timely and reliable 360-degree view of the customer, orders, in-store and enterprise wide inventory in the hands of store associates is the foundation for outstanding experiences and connected customer engagement. Retailers are changing intrepidly by implementing new technological strategies that capture the attention of consumers and provide them with the information they need and the experience they desire. And this digitization is transforming the entire shopping journey, with no time to delay. Companies and retailers in specific need to offer a seamless, channel-agnostic experience to retain customers remain relevant and drive sales using top digital trends such as chatbots, mobile commerce, social shopping, personalized retargeting and virtual retail. Now is the time for the transition to smart, connected retail.

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