Changing Trends in Retail Inspired by Innovations in Technology

Rakesh Ravuri, CTO, Senior VP Engineering, Publicis Sapient | Wednesday, 08 April 2020, 08:33 IST

Changing Trends in Retail Inspired by Innovations in Technology

How is digital revolution transforming the retail sector as a whole?

Digital revolution has not only affected the retail industry but also every customer driven medium. Customers are becoming more digital savvy. They like to interact by help of digital means. It might be on the purchase side or the customer service side or any kind of research that the customer does, digital has become the undeniable part of the customer's journey.

Now if we come to how it is specifically affecting the retail space, earlier when we went to stores and buy from the store itself but now customers are better informed because they can compare the prices online. Real time price checking is also there.

Another important aspect where digital has impacted retail is how a customer experiences the product. It will be either a virtual experience or a mixed reality experience and it is affecting the users a lot.

What are the different kinds of technologies that are getting implemented in the retail sector?

Retail has been an early adopter of all the modern technologies. The use of technology to an extent helps the customer is distinguishing one product from the other. E.g, there are furniture companies which can use mixed reality to show the customers as to how the furniture would actually look in their rooms. This is an added bonus for the customer.

The usage of IoT to provide a holistic experience to the customer especially in the electronics sector has become common where systems are put on display.

Current generation is very much social media driven and what others have experienced in a product matters to them the most. They go for reviews and ratings before the point where they actually buy it.

How are the back-end operations in the retail sector getting facilitated by technology?

While on one hand, it is getting more customer-oriented, on the other hand, there is increased self efficiency as well. Technology has facilitated the supply chain in the retail sector. 

Another is the in-store experience. e-commerce as a channel has not been much profitable for the retailers. Not many retailers have been able to gain equal profits from sales in stores and e-commerce on the other side. Most of the retailers want customers to have more in-store experiences than selling it online.

What are the ways in which data driven intelligence is being used in the retail sector?

e-commerce profitability, digitization of stores and other major changes are a resultant factor of data itself as the common term for it is data-driven retailer. 

Data driven intelligence helps a retailer to ensure customer loyalty and also upgrade a customer's purchasing pattern. It is a big area where service providers are helping retail companies to achieve the desired business goals where customer gets upgraded from one loyalty segment to the other.

Data is also used in product design.With the analysis of data one can understand one product is doing better than the other product.

e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart are coming into the retail sector with their physical shops. How will this affect the retail sector and what competition can these give to the existing players in the industry?

The whole retail is not going to shift to e-commerce completely. Statistics say that 70 percent of the sales still happen in traditional brick and morter stores. Amazon and Flipkart are less than 10 percent of the volume that gets consumed by the population. I am talking about approximate numbers but the situation is the same as I speak. But as times are changing, retail stores are also looking for online presence in order to reach more audience. The online and the retail presence both are going hand in hand. 

How has Blockchain affected the retail sector?

One area where blockchain can help is in the supply chain.The delivery of a product involves the change of hands until it reaches the end customer. How does one ensure that things have not been tampered? Here Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) is implemented to ensure a tamper free supply chain.

There is a trace of each and every action and the system also goes through multiple verification processes. A Blockchain system ensures clarity and transparency in operations.

What are the major challenges faced by businesses in the retail industry?

Retailers are mostly struggling with the point of sales. This has traditionally not been updated for almost 15-20 years. Same technology is being used in this segment for a long time. e-commerce is gradually changing the ways for retail businesses. New things are getting introduced and businesses are constantly updating themselves. 

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