Digitisation of retail industry

Retailers once made profits off their brick and mortar stores only! Seems like decades ago before online buying came around. Online retail is not just about being able to sell online; it is also about leveraging online data to improve offline sales. While retailers are juggling with their offline and online stores, they are compelled to leverage latest solutions built using cutting-edge technologies.

Gartner has predicted a rise of 3.6% globally in the tech retail spending, which might amount to $218.5 billion by 2021 across the world while the predicted online retail spend in India could touch $50 billion during the same time, as per a Deloitte report . For retailers in India, it is equally vital to maintain their online stores while also teching up their physical outlets to simplify and boost the shopping experience.

According to the same report by Deloitte, nearly 70% of Indian shoppers prefer digital devices (own or kiosk) rather than sales personnel for in-store activities such as pricing comparison, procuring product information, checking product availability etc. This shows the evolving interests of the new-age customer.

As customers become more self-aware, retailers are responding by creating more customer-focused experiences — enabled by data, digital and CRM platforms of today. This balancing innovation is causing another Retail Digital Reset (RDR) with a growing consensus on omni-channel as the ‘retail way’ and data-driven points becoming more important in the buyer’s journey steering the digital appetite of retailers.

Digitisation has a broader scope than automation, which remains focused on efficiency of established workflows. Digitisation invents Net-New data and workflows and is enabled by more players in the retail eco-system. Digitisation enables everyone — a store manager, a regional manager, an auditor, the legal coordinator, the VM enabler and several others — to translate their personal spaces into digital, adding it
up to eventual consumer experience.

This scope of mass involvement and data creation necessitates a constant access to computing infrastructure and several easy-to-use tools that these contributors can use to drive the digital agenda. Cloud is an answer to this innovation and digital burst to aid retailers.  

There is innovation and with reducing threshold to market entry, new ideas and solutions are available at a faster rate than ever before. While digitisation platforms enable the RDR, several point innovations can be plugged into the home platforms quickly. The ease of distribution, technological progress and time to market are driving cloud adoption at a very fast pace in India.

Cloud is the new desktop

Anyone with an idea to improve the retail journey can translate it into a cloud service and plug into Enterprise platforms for quick feasibility and adoption. An emerging trend witnessed by these digitisation platforms is the emergence of innovators within the organisation.

Employees understand the business extremely well including what the consumer wants “today”. Enabled with easy to use tools on cloud, employees are turning intrapreneurial creating a win-win all around. The 24/7 accessibility through cloud (private or public) enables employees translate their ideas into micro-services at a speed never witnessed before.

Retailers are digitising daily operations in order to deliver consistent user experiences; retailers are proactively taking measures to fine tune their retail operations and to drive better consumer engagement. Gaining insights into such digitised retail measures will open up new business opportunities for retailers.

Retailers can analyse millions of data points every day on digitisation platforms to understand new consumer insights that are coming through different engagement channels and act on those which may require immediate attention. Examples of such data include collecting alteration data at stores to be fed back into the range/season designs or discovering reasons why customers did not buy on a specific day or dynamically discovering changing consumer preferences.

While a lot gets talked about digital in context of consumers, there is evidence for an equally big push on digitising the supply space, which often gets neglected. As retailers increase their spend on revitalising customer experiences to drive affinity and stem churn, it has to be borne in mind to synchronise loyalty programmes with user expectations, to collect more touch point data and effectively leverage it in order to deliver individualised experiences at scale.

Cloud adoption makes all this easy for digitisation especially in retail. Growing availability of secure, robust infrastructure from credible players and falling costs make cloud ubiquitous and market’s hopeful that SMB retailers shall accelerate the adoption of cloud usage to over 90% by end of 2019.

(The writer is Founder & CEO, Wooqer Inc)

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