TECH­NOL­OGY:

The Great­est Dif­fer­en­tia­tor in the Re­tail In­dus­try

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By San­deep Ku­mar & Charu Lamba

Re­tail­ers and brands are em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy in a big way to drive a seam­less user ex­pe­ri­ence in an ef­fort to blend in with the in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal world and pro­vide con­ve­nience and ben­e­fits to the con­sumer. In­dian Re­tail In­dus­try’s top CIOS and CTOS, the vi­sion­ar­ies re­spon­si­ble for the tech­no­log­i­cal di­rec­tion any or­gan­i­sa­tion takes, share their thoughts on the fu­ture of re­tail tech­nol­ogy, their fo­cus points as well as the chal­lenges they face while im­ple­ment­ing them...

The re­tail in­dus­try is com­pet­i­tive, it’s re­lent­less and the suc­cess of brands and re­tail­ers de­pends on how firmly they deal with their com­pe­ti­tion. One way to stay ahead of the curve is the in­cor­po­ra­tion of tech­nol­ogy in a brand’s op­er­at­ing model. Tech­nol­ogy is chang­ing the shape of the global re­tail in­dus­try as also the way many re­tail­ers and busi­nesses op­er­ate. In re­tail, tech­nol­ogy gives brands the plat­form to bet­ter sat­isfy their cus­tomers by help­ing them con­cen­trate on con­sumer needs.

Ac­cord­ing to a Walker study, cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence will over­take price and prod­uct as the key brand dif­fer­en­tia­tor by 2020 and 86 per­cent of con­sumers will pay more for

a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence. The chal­lenge in serv­ing the mod­ern cus­tomer for most re­tail­ers, there­fore, lies in bring­ing about the right bal­ance be­tween tech­nol­ogy and hu­mans.

Re­tail­ers with the fore­sight to un­der­stand the po­ten­tial of tech­nol­ogy with­out get­ting lost in its com­plex­i­ties, and merg­ing it with hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, have al­ways been able to grow faster and big­ger. Sim­ply put, tech­nol­ogy is be­gin­ning to play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in the man­age­ment of com­plex re­tail op­er­a­tions all over the world. To stay ahead of the game, re­tail­ers are tak­ing the help of dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies to lead the way in chang­ing two as­pects: their pointsof-sale and their points-of­sup­ply.

As re­tail mar­kets con­tinue to grow and be­come com­plex, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly tough for busi­nesses to keep a track on new de­vel­op­ments and then to fig­ure out how these de­vel­op­ments can be com­bined into their op­er­at­ing mod­els in or­der to come up with a win­ning propo­si­tion – both for them­selves as well as their con­sumer. This is one of the many rea­sons that re­tail­ers need tech­nol­ogy. Other im­por­tant fac­tors for re­tail brands to trans­form their IT ca­pa­bil­i­ties in­clude: In­creas­ing the com­pany’s abil­ity to re­spond to the evolv­ing mar­ket­place through en­hanced speed and flex­i­bil­ity

Col­lect­ing and analysing cus­tomer data while en­hanc­ing dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion Work­ing ef­fec­tively; re­tail­ers need one sys­tem work­ing across stores

(or even across na­tional bor­ders) to make sure the most ef­fec­tive use of stock and im­prove busi­ness pro­cesses

Tech­nol­ogy in Re­tail

High tech in­no­va­tions help re­tail­ers stay com­pet­i­tive in key cat­e­gories in­clud­ing con­sumer con­ve­nience, price, size and speed. High tech tools help in man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts in bulk, en­sur­ing ful­fill­ment of con­sumer de­mands with greater speed and ease both at the ware­houses/ stores and on the sales floor.

Tech­nol­ogy also bal­ances in­ven­tory as­sort­ments, man­ages or­der­ing and tracks pric­ing. Cus­tomer track­ing tools in­crease cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and pro­mote loy­alty by en­hanc­ing shop­pers’ in-store ex­pe­ri­ence.

For ex­am­ple, in-store sen­sors and bea­con tech­nol­ogy can record be­hav­ioral and de­mo­graphic data to a busi­ness’s cloud com­put­ing sys­tem, of­fer­ing in­sight into the cus­tomers’ psy­che. This data can then guide prod­uct, lay­out and dis­play strate­gies. The data gath­ered sys­tems can an­a­lyse cus­tomer brows­ing and buy­ing pat­terns, which then be used to per­son­alise in-store ex­pe­ri­ences for con­sumers. IOT bea­cons can also help cus­tomers quickly find items in a store and no­tify them of of­fers and dis­counts via their smart­phones.

On the ex­ec­u­tive level too, tech­nol­ogy plays a pos­i­tive role in strat­egy and de­ci­sion mak­ing, sav­ing time and adding con­ve­nience and prof­its to the busi­ness.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion & CRM Through POS Sys­tems:

Thanks to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, cloud-based POS sys­tems aid busi­ness own­ers in the au­toma­tion of daily tasks. These in­clude pay­ment and check­out like in­ter­ac­tive sig­nage, em­ployee at­ten­dance, self-ser­vice ap­pli­ca­tions like cus­tomer check-in.

POS sys­tems also help in the over­all op­ti­mi­sa­tion of pro­cesses like track­ing in­puts from dif­fer­ent ac­cess points, im­ple­men­ta­tion of a reser­va­tion sys­tem (in case of a restau­rant) and de­vel­op­ing a cus­tomer loy­alty pro­gram.

These smart reg­is­ter ter­mi­nals pro­vide re­ports, cal­cu­late dis­counts, of­fer coupons, cap­ture and match tally of cus­tomer pro­file in­for­ma­tion with ease to avoid chaos at the billing counter. They use a sig­na­ture­cap­ture tech­nol­ogy for credit card trans­ac­tions which re­tains re­ceipts elec­tron­i­cally.

Use of POS tech­nol­ogy has served to­wards mak­ing the pay­ment process eas­ier and con­tact­less. RFID and NFC tech­nol­ogy pro­vide cus­tomers with the bonus of mak­ing a pur­chase us­ing their smart­phones and smart­watches.

It is im­por­tant for re­tail busi­nesses to stream­line these pro­cesses to de­velop a sys­tem which is in­for­ma­tive and er­ror-free.

In­ven­tory Man­age­ment:

Ac­cord­ing to stores.org, “Re­tail­ers will con­tinue to ex­plore ways to use IOT in the com­ing year for ev­ery­thing from keep­ing bet­ter tabs on their in­ven­tory to man­ag­ing losses from theft and con­nect­ing with shop­pers.

RE­TAIL­ERS WILL CON­TINUE TO ADOPT EMERG­ING TECH­NOLO­GIES IN 2018 TO CLOSE THE GAP BE­TWEEN THE DIG­I­TAL AND PHYS­I­CAL WORLDS, AND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CON­SUMERS. – Su­nil Nair, SPAR In­dia (Max Hyper­mar­kets) IN­DIA IS ONE OF THE BIG­GEST CON­SUMER MAR­KET IN TERMS OF MO­BILE DE­VICES. COU­PLED WITH AN EF­FI­CIENT DISTRI­BU­TION AND LO­GIS­TICS SETUP, THE RE­TAIL IN­DUS­TRY IS SET FOR EXPONENTIAL GROWTH. – Chetan Chaturvedi, Reliance Mar­ket Re­tail Ltd.

With the help of tech­nol­ogy, man­agers can track in­ven­tory in an or­gan­ised man­ner through its pur­chase cy­cle and of­fer real-time in­for­ma­tion and up­dates about the prod­uct to con­sumers. Tech­nol­ogy is also al­ready help­ing in in­form­ing man­agers of the sta­tus of the store stock – whether it needs re­plen­ish­ing or not.

Fea­tures like ‘Elec­tronic Data In­ter­change (EDI)’ help in main­tain­ing di­rect com­puter-to-com­puter trans­ac­tions from the store to the ven­dors’ data­bases and or­der­ing sys­tems. The wire­less hand-held in­ven­tory units keep a check on the en­tire data­base at the head­quar­ters by down­load­ing and help in down­load­ing the data reg­u­larly.

The Uni­ver­sal Prod­uct

Code (UPC), is used for prod­uct iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem us­ing bar code and unique num­ber­ing for or­gan­is­ing the goods cat­e­gory wise. Au­to­matic re­plen­ish­ment man­ages re­stock­ing of what’s been sold. Cus­tomer Re­la­tion­ship Man­age­ment (CRM) soft­ware al­lows re­tail­ers to track cus­tomers.

Price Au­dit­ing: De­spite be­ing a time con­sum­ing and costly process, price au­dit­ing is an­other im­por­tant as­pect for re­tail­ers which en­sures that the con­sumers are not be­ing charged ex­tra or less. Au­dit­ing has been stream­lined to a large ex­tent by the in­tro­duc­tion of tech­nol­ogy as prod­ucts can now be scanned at the time of pur­chase. This cre­ates more ac­cu­rate pric­ing, saves store em­ploy­ees a lot of time and cre­ates bet­ter trust be­tween the store and the cus­tomers. Im­pact of Tech­nol­ogy on the Re­tail In­dus­try The dawn of e-com­merce had dealt a huge blow to the tra­di­tional re­tail – that is un­til re­tail­ers dis­cov­ered the ad­van­tages of Om­nichan­nel re­tail. With the ad­vent of new tech­nol­ogy, re­tail­ers are now rais­ing the in­dus­try from the sim­ple con­cept of buy­ing and selling and tak­ing Om­nichan­nel to an­other level al­to­gether.

“Re­tail­ers will con­tinue to adopt emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies in 2018 to close the gap be­tween the dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal worlds, and to learn more about con­sumers. Mo­bile will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant part of the re­tail equa­tion as stores also evolve. And through­out the in­dus­try, re­tail­ers will at­tain more data about their shop­pers and use ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to en­hance their mar­ket­ing and mer­chan­dis­ing. Per­son­al­i­sa­tion in re­tail will play a im­por­tant role in 2018. Re­tail­ers will use data and AI plat­forms to bet­ter en­gage cus­tomers with per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence both on­line and in the store. More re­tail­ers will use Ai-based ca­pa­bil­i­ties and tech­nolo­gies to bet­ter match shop­pers with prod­ucts. They will be able to ac­cess per­sonal shop­ping his­tory, de­mo­graph­ics, page views and clicks then use AI to of­fer bet­ter rec­om­men­da­tions and in­di­vid­u­ally tai­lor their mar­ket­ing,” says Su­nil Nair, Sr. Vice Pres­i­dent IT & Busi­ness So­lu­tions, SPAR In­dia (Max Hyper­mar­kets).

In­di­ans as cus­tomers are more dig­i­tally aware now than ever be­fore, and this num­ber will in­crease over the next few years. More In­di­ans get­ting into the dig­i­tal space would mean more op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for us re­tail­ers in terms of get­ting through to the right au­di­ence in a man­ner that con­verts them into loyal cus­tomers. Up­com­ing tech­nolo­gies are go­ing to make way for the In­dian Re­tail In­dus­try to make a dig­i­tal break­through and pro­vide ex­actly what the dig­i­tally-aware cus­tomers would want,” he adds.

“In­dia is one of the big­gest con­sumer mar­ket in terms of mo­bile de­vices.

Cou­pled with an ef­fi­cient distri­bu­tion and lo­gis­tics setup, the re­tail in­dus­try is set for exponential growth. The real time an­a­lyt­ics could bring in ef­fi­cien­cies in in­ven­tory man­age­ment, prod­uct place­ments, sup­ply chain, de­liv­er­ies, and even prod­uct de­vel­op­ment for the right con­sumer mar­ket. The two hot tech­nolo­gies that are be­com­ing very pop­u­lar are ‘Robotics & Drone De­liv­er­ies’ in Re­tail are yet to get a se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion in In­dian mar­ket,” says Chetan Chaturvedi, CIO, Head – IT, Reliance Mar­ket Re­tail Ltd.

“With the avail­abil­ity of new tech­nolo­gies each con­sumer to­day can be viewed as a unique in­di­vid­ual with clearly identifiable pref­er­ences. There­fore, In­dian re­tail needs to move from one-size-fit­sall ap­proach to a high­ly­cus­tomized, con­sumer­centric ap­proach. The way re­tail is cur­rently struc­tured, this re­quires a both a big par­a­digm and struc­tural shift,” adds Ab­hishek Lal,

Sr. Di­rec­tor E-com­merce Emerg­ing Mar­kets, adi­das Emerg­ing Mar­kets.

“AI has be­come one of the big­gest tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in re­cent years. With its abil­ity to help turn large and di­verse data sets into en­riched in­for­ma­tion that can help im­prove speed, cost and flex­i­bil­ity across the value chain. In fash­ion, AI helps brands and re­tail­ers with pre­dic­tive fore­cast­ing, ca­pac­ity plan­ning and mer­chan­dis­ing. Con­sumers en­joy the ben­e­fits of bet­ter prod­uct avail­abil­ity,” says Manoj Pa­tel, Dep. CIO, House of Anita Don­gre Ltd.

How IOT is Shap­ing the In­dus­try

“Re­tail­ers will make greater use of bea­cons, sen­sors and the In­ter­net of Things de­vices to drive the in-store ex­pe­ri­ence in 2018. IOT will be the tool that can fi­nally bridge the gap be­tween the dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal worlds as it fi­nally of­fers the abil­ity to ob­tain and use data in stores. Re­tail­ers will be able to use these de­vices to gather more in­for­ma­tion about con­sumers in the store and con­vert that into data that can also be used on­line and through mo­bile. They will pi­lot more IOT pro­grams to en­hance store en­try, cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion, im­prove mer­chan­dis­ing and of­fer more rapid check­out. We are in the process of im­ple­ment­ing IOT for In­ven­tory man­age­ment, im­prov­ing in-store ex­pe­ri­ence through per­son­alised mar­ket­ing and En­ergy man­age­ment,” ex­plains Nair.

“IOT adap­ta­tion varies from com­pany to com­pany. For beauty and cos­met­ics re­tail, it would help in rec­og­niz­ing cus­tomer sen­ti­ments through cam­era sen­sors, analysing in-store traf­fic and con­vert­ing them as shop­pers in real time. IOT can help out in build­ing vir­tual as­sist to “try on” makeup look be­fore ac­tu­ally buy­ing the fi­nal prod­ucts. We are work­ing on that,” says Tarun Bali, Head IT, Quest Re­tail Pvt. Ltd. The Bodyshop.

“IOT is key for this con­sumer fac­ing in­dus­try and it would cre­ate a huge im­pact in our cus­tomer of­fer­ings. There is use of sen­sors which cap­ture

Im­age / Video / Prod­uct in­for­ma­tion which are crit­i­cal el­e­ments for re­tail­ers. Or­ga­ni­za­tions need to store IOT data and use in for bet­ter op­er­at­ing de­ci­sions,” Piyush Chowhan, Chief In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer, Arvind Fash­ions Ltd.

WITH THE AVAIL­ABIL­ITY OF NEW TECH­NOLO­GIES EACH CON­SUMER TO­DAY CAN BE VIEWED AS A UNIQUE IN­DI­VID­UAL WITH CLEARLY IDENTIFIABLE PREF­ER­ENCES. – Ab­hishek Lal, adi­das Emerg­ing Mar­kets AI HELPS BRANDS WITH PRE­DIC­TIVE FORE­CAST­ING, CA­PAC­ITY PLAN­NING AND MER­CHAN­DIS­ING. CON­SUMERS EN­JOY THE BEN­E­FITS OF BET­TER PROD­UCT AVAIL­ABIL­ITY. – Manoj Pa­tel, Deputy CIO, House of Anita Don­gre Ltd.. IOT CAN HELP OUT IN BUILD­ING VIR­TUAL AS­SIST TO “TRY ON” MAKEUP LOOK BE­FORE AC­TU­ALLY BUY­ING THE FI­NAL PROD­UCTS. WE ARE WORK­ING ON THAT. – Tarun Bali, Quest Re­tail Pvt. Ltd. The Bodyshop THERE IS USE OF SEN­SORS WHICH CAP­TURE IM­AGE / VIDEO / PROD­UCT IN­FOR­MA­TION WHICH ARE CRIT­I­CAL EL­E­MENTS FOR RE­TAIL­ERS. – Piyush Chowhan, Arvind Fash­ions Ltd.

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