RE­TAIL TRENDS OF 2018

Images Retail - - COVER STORY -

1. EVO­LU­TION OF SMART CENSORS:

In com­par­i­son to brick-and-mor­tar stores, on­line e-com­merce por­tals dis­cov­ered the value of in-depth shop­per an­a­lyt­ics much ear­lier. The phys­i­cal stores re­al­ized the im­por­tance of this data quite late, which was al­ways avail­able at their door step all the time. With help of tech­nol­ogy, re­tail­ers are keep­ing a record of shop­per likes and dis­likes, sub­jec­tiv­ity and in­abil­ity to scale. Un­like on­line plat­forms where it is easy to keep a record of con­sumer be­hav­ior through cook­ies and IP ad­dresses, in phys­i­cal stores sen­sors im­ple­ment a sys­tem­atic way to col­lect data. Some sen­sor tech­nolo­gies in­clude:

Video: Video is the most fun­da­men­tal and orig­i­nal sen­sor tech­nol­ogy which has been in busi­ness since a long time. Video sen­sors – in ad­di­tion to vis­i­ble light from the cam­era – con­vert the footage into data. Recorded videos are stored and viewed later with qual­i­ta­tive rea­son­ing to de­ter­mine the na­ture, choice, taste of a con­sumer. Re­ac­tions and ex­act move­ments of con­sumers, as well as the time they spend in front of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts avail­able at the stores are also recorded. This helps in get­ting a pre­cise idea of traf­fic in front of prod­ucts, en­gage­ment mea­sure­ment,shop­pers’ path an­a­lyt­ics as well as other valu­able de­mo­graph­ics. It also pro­vides video man­age­ment for loss preven­tion and en­ables qual­i­ta­tive un­der­stand­ing through video ob­ser­va­tion.

Wi-fi: Wi-fi also acts as a dis­tinc­tive sen­sor as­pect as far as smart sen­sor tech­nol­ogy goes. Most mo­bile de­vices reg­u­larly emit a Wifi sig­nal, even when not con­nected to a store’s Wi-fi net­work. Es­sen­tially, the phone sends out a blip ev­ery so of­ten seek­ing net­works to po­ten­tially con­nect with. Those blips con­tain an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion marker, al­low­ing a Wi-fi ac­cess point to as­so­ci­ate that marker to a unique mo­bile de­vice. If con­nected, the sen­sor can lever­age web brows­ing be­hav­ior to en­hance in­ven­tory man­age­ment. In re­verse sce­nario, the sen­sor deter­mines whether it has seen the marker be­fore, sig­nal­ing the de­vice as a re­turn­ing guest.

Bea­cons: A bea­con is a tiny and in­ex­pen­sive wire­less tech­nol­ogy that helps in con­tin­u­ous broad­cast­ing. Bea­cons look to con­nect with a spe­cific mo­bile app on the shop­per’s phone which rec­og­nizes the bea­con and its sig­nal. Some­times mo­bile apps need to be opened and run­ning on a shop­per’s phone, while at other times, the bea­con can “awaken” the app and con­nect. If and when the con­nec­tion is made, the app sends data to the cloud, al­low­ing the re­tailer to garner shop­per in­sights like store vis­its, lo­ca­tion within the store. Bea­cons are com­pletely de­pen­dent on a shop­per’s opt-in with an app an­dare very ac­cu­rate. Blue­tooth Low En­ergy (BLE):

Blue­tooth LE has a medium range – gen­er­ally more than a video cam­era and does not re­quire line of sight. They are small and in­ex­pen­sive and are quite ac­cu­rate when de­ploy­ing a suf­fi­cient num­ber of sen­sors. How­ever, for pur­poses of em­ployee ex­clu­sion, a store must de­ploy ded­i­cated Blue­tooth sen­sors that are not multi-use for other ap­pli­ca­tions, like shop­per en­gage­ment. Ra­dio Fre­quency Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion:

RFID has proven to be a fan­tas­tic so­lu­tion for in­ven­tory man­age­ment, which al­lows re­tail­ers and brands to con­trol their en­tire end-to-end pro­cesses, to ex­am­ine their sup­ply chains, from fac­tory to ship­ping dock, from ware­house to store. RFID tags con­tain­ing a unique iden­ti­fier are at­tached to ev­ery SKU of mer­chan­dise, and RFID read­ers are de­ployed, ei­ther fixed in the ceil­ing or per­haps hand­held, and of­ten also in­te­grated into POS ter­mi­nals. RFID pro­vides a so­lu­tion to all sorts of ques­tions which is fre­quently asked by the staff at the back­end. The key ben­e­fits are to pro­vide pre­cise and ac­cu­rate item lo­ca­tion track­ing, auto iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with no man­ual help needed.

2. MO­BILE TECH­NOLO­GIES:

Thanks to mo­bile de­vices like smart­phones and tablets, con­sumers to­day have a ready ac­cess to all kinds of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion when and where they need it be it shop­ping, din­ing or trav­el­ling. Re­tail­ers are bound to cre­ate de­light­ful, cus­tomised and Om­nichan­nel shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences for buy­ers. For busi­ness lead­ers stay­ing on top of the lat­est de­vel­op­ments and over­all, mo­bile and tech­nol­ogy trends plays a very im­por­tant role. Some of the mo­bile tech trends in re­tail are as fol­lows

3. OM­NICHAN­NEL EX­PE­RI­ENCE:

Om­nichan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence is no longer just a buzz word. It is the need of the hour, the one thing which will pretty much en­sure suc­cess for a re­tailer. Con­sumer de­mands are very spe­cific these days and to ful­fill them a brand has to be Om­nichan­nel in its ap­proach. It has be­come crit­i­cal for re­tail­ers to build a seam­less and an easy shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, not just to ac­quire, but to re­tain cus­tomers as well. Around 45

per­cent of Mil­len­ni­als make pur­chases through e-com­merce plat­forms like Ama­zon, and Flip­kart. This is a sure sign of the fact that they spend plenty of their time on their mo­bile de­vices, check­ing out of­fers and other de­tails.

4. M-COM­MERCE:

M-com­merce has been a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor in the rev­enue gen­er­ated by the global app econ­omy, an econ­omy whose num­ber is ex­pected to reach a whop­ping US $6.3 tril­lion by 2021.

For re­tail­ers it has been proven by re­search that mo­bile app drives more en­gage­ment. A nor­mal per­son spends an av­er­age of seven to nine hours on the phone in a day. As a re­sult, mo­bile apps dom­i­nate the over­all In­ter­net traf­fic and gen­er­ate around 3X more con­ver­sions in com­par­i­son to the web. Mo­bile users are used to sim­ple UI and faster load­ing speeds, ow­ing to the ex­pe­ri­ence they get on the ex­ten­sively used so­cial me­dia and mes­sag­ing apps, some­thing which big­ger re­tail chains are striv­ing hard to pro­vide. Brands are us­ing M-com­merce to pam­per their cus­tomers with per­sonal ser­vice that in­spires loy­alty and ap­peals to shop­pers’ emo­tions.

5. MO­BILE PAY­MENT AND DIG­I­TAL WALLET:

When it comes to mo­bile apps, dig­i­tal wal­lets and in-app pay­ments have made life eas­ier for the user. They pro­vide a con­ve­nient yet se­cure check­out op­tion by mov­ing away from hard cash to vir­tual money. App pay­ment in re­tail has wit­nessed non-stop growth and rise since its com­mence­ment in 2015.

6. LIVE CHATS:

Live chat as­sis­tance can help re­tail­ers in pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to con­sumers with real time as­sis­tance. Live chat app so­lu­tions have the high­est sat­is­fac­tion level for any cus­tomer ser­vice chan­nel, with a 73 per­cent ap­proval rat­ing.

7. IOT AND CLOUD:

The In­ter­net of Things(iot) con­nects the phys­i­cal world to the In­ter­net so that one can use data from de­vices to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency. Con­sumers have a plethora of con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions avail­able in the mar­ket at min­i­mal costs. All kinds of things are be­ing used in

IOT ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing con­sumer prod­ucts such as re­frig­er­a­tors, se­cu­rity cam­eras, and ca­ble set-top boxes; in­dus­trial sys­tems such as con­veyor belts and man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment; and com­mer­cial de­vices such as traf­fic sig­nals and smart me­ters. IOT con­tin­ues to evolve and ex­pand in terms of the num­ber of com­pa­nies, prod­ucts, and ap­pli­ca­tions that il­lus­trate just how ben­e­fi­cial it is be­com­ing to con­nect our de­vices, ap­pli­ances, homes, and ve­hi­cles to­gether.

8. MA­CHINE LEARN­ING AND AR­TI­FI­CIAL IN­TEL­LI­GENCE:

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) helps ma­chines and de­vices learn from ex­pe­ri­ence, ad­just to new in­puts and per­form hu­man-like tasks and in­tel­li­gence. From Chess-play­ing com­put­ers to self-driv­ing cars and

Bots as­sist­ing peo­ple in their work in re­tail out­lets, AI has been the ma­jor change for a lot of in­dus­tries in the past decade. In re­tail, AI can be used to train com­put­ers to ac­com­plish spe­cific tasks by pro­cess­ing large amounts of data and rec­og­niz­ing data pat­terns.

It is used in e-com­merce plat­forms, chat­bot ser­vices and so­cial me­dia apps. Sim­i­larly, ma­chine learn­ing uses pat­tern recog­ni­tion to pre­dict data based on al­go­rithms. AI is be­ing de­ployed by busi­nesses to cre­ate web­sites, so­cial me­dia posts, run email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, op­ti­mise con­tent for dif­fer­ent con­sumer seg­ments. It is help­ing brands be­come more ag­ile in their com­mu­ni­ca­tions, as well as more re­spon­sive to con­sumer de­mands, as and when they change.

9. SUP­PLY CHAIN INTEGRATION:

A sup­ply chain is a col­lec­tion of sup­pli­ers re­quired to cre­ate prod­uct for a com­pany. Each sup­plier is an im­por­tant link in the chain that adds time and mone­tary costs. Sup­ply chain man­age­ment is the col­lec­tion of method­olo­gies, the­o­ries, and prac­tices that go to­wards keep­ing a sup­ply chain run­ning and im­prov­ing its ef­fi­ciency for the ben­e­fit of most,

if not all of the links. The ma­jor stages of sup­ply chain integration mainly are cus­tomer anal­y­sis, sup­plier part­ner­ing, in­ven­tory man­age­ment and con­trol, de­mand and lead time man­age­ment, ma­te­ri­als man­age­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­man­u­fac­tur­ing anal­y­sis, stor­age and trans­porta­tion thereby re­sult­ing in or­der ful­fill­ment. ERP plays a ma­jor role in com­plet­ing this chain in­order to ful­fill or­ders in bulk. ERP sys­tems track busi­ness re­sources—cash, raw ma­te­ri­als, pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity—and the sta­tus of busi­ness com­mit­ments: or­ders, pur­chase or­ders, and pay­roll. The ap­pli­ca­tions that make up the sys­tem share data across var­i­ous de­part­ments (man­u­fac­tur­ing, pur­chas­ing, sales, ac­count­ing, etc.) that pro­vide the data.

10. AUGMENTED RE­AL­ITY AND VR:

AR in re­tail isn’t all that new, with brands us­ing it suc­cess­fully since

2013. It is pop­u­lar and suc­cess­ful as it de­liv­ers a sim­ple, in­tu­itive, high-value user ex­pe­ri­ence for con­sumers. The sim­ple way to un­der­stand is that with AR, one can eas­ily with the help of his smart­phone and can find out ex­actly how far s/he is from a shop­ping mall or a restau­rant. The adop­tion of AR acts as an in­valu­able tool for re­tail­ers by pro­vid­ing in­sight and in­for­ma­tion sup­port­ing con­sumer buy­ing de­ci­sions. Us­ing AR ap­pli­ca­tions to layer dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion — text, im­ages, video and au­dio-on top of the phys­i­cal world — rep­re­sents an easy route to deeper en­gage­ment, both in-store and at-home. In ad­di­tion to this VR not only cre­ate a sim­u­lated en­vi­ron­ment around but also pro­vide other tac­tile sen­sa­tions to give the con­sumers an ab­so­lute life ex­pe­ri­ence.

11. BIG DATA AND BLOCKCHAIN:

Sim­ply put, Big Data drives to­wards a bet­ter cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

The cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is more im­por­tant than ever as re­tail­ers strug­gle to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves in an in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing mar­ket. But how re­tail­ers im­ple­ment that cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is shift­ing from a purely per­son-to-per­son ap­proach, to some­thing much more au­to­mated – but when done right, those au­toma­tion tools sup­ple­ment and en­hance the hu­man ap­proach, de­liv­er­ing a vastly su­pe­rior, and much more per­sonal, cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Blockchain makes re­tail­ers more ef­fi­cient. While most peo­ple as­so­ci­ate Blockchain with cryp­tocur­ren­cies and Bit­coin, its greater po­ten­tial is in back-end ap­pli­ca­tions that im­prove re­tail op­er­a­tions. Ba­jaj Elec­tri­cals Ltd. has elim­i­nated the man­ual steps in­volved in the com­pany’s bill dis­count­ing process with the use of blockchain/hy­per­ledger and the en­tire trans­ac­tion has be­come pa­per­less

We bring you a peek at how top CIOS view the fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy in re­tail. In­dian re­tail’s IT gu­rus give us a low­down on how pre­pared the In­dian re­tail in­dus­try is to man­age the im­pact of new tech­nol­ogy, while talk­ing about their per­sonal favourite tech ideas.

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