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    Transforming Customer Engagement through Technology

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    The global retail economy is growing at an exponential pace and technology continues to act as an enabler for most enterprises. The Indian retail market, in particular, is expected to double to reach $ 1 trillion by 2020 from $ 600 billion this year, according to . Harsh Marwah, Country Manager, Verizon Enterprise Solutions charts the latest key technology trends that are set to impact the retail industry this year.

    Correlating buying patterns and using big data to push sales:
    This year, correlating buying patterns and utilizing big data to push specific products, rather than expecting the consumer to wade through potential merchandise information will be critical. One of the instances would be leveraging an e-commerce website that uses to track previous purchases and correlate historical purchasing trends with current trends and recommendations. Moreover, the Omni channel strategy in retail requires acceleration to ensure a seamless customer experience regardless of customers’ choice of shopping venue. This will be further enabled by advances in location proximity; social networks; and the ability to shop, live, play and purchase items in a collaborative manner anywhere and at any time.

    Meaningful customer engagement using big data:
    Retailers today are still challenged with how to best use data, because there is a lot of information being created. The task could be made much easier if retailers are able to make the information relevant to what it is that they want to do — whether it’s a specific engagement or promotion. This year is believed to be the year when businesses would stand out and leverage the data and analytics they have and use it for meaningful customer engagement.

    Meaningful customer engagement involves not big data, but deep data:
    The key is not big data, which simply indicates quantity — rather it is about deep data. In fact, Data and analytics have been driving the retail business since a long time. Deep data is a new way of ingesting the right data to be able to continue to enhance customer experience and drive better decisions for retail business. Retailers need to use technology to move workloads to the cloud to shrink the time between capturing the data and the data being actionable in that minute that matters. Understanding valuable insights about the customers while they are in the store is far more valuable as knowing these insights once the customers have left the store.

    Growing role of mobile apps
    The key for retailers will be to adopt mobile strategies to reach out to their customers. Mobiles and tablets will continue to play a growing role in retail for education, loyalty apps, purchasing, mobile ordering and payments. This must not be seen as a standalone trend, but must be essentially understood as the fact that consumers want easy-to-find product information and the ability to purchase that product in the manner that works for them.

    Adopting cloud infrastructure for specific workloads:
    It is believed that retailers over time will lean towards adopting cloud infrastructure not just for peak season and traffic, but also for specific workloads. This will be a more focused approach, where retailers would be able to leverage cloud infrastructure for a more cost-flexible environment to account for peak traffic and promotional activity.

    Mitigation strategy for Cyber breaches/ Setting a security strategy:
    According to the Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations report, 65 per cent of the compromises took only minutes to perpetrate. It also reveals that, 90 per cent of the attacks took a few weeks or more to discover and others took a few weeks or more to contain. Therefore it is critical that the retailers articulate the events of the past and secure their systems to protect sensitive information from cyber breaches. In case of a breach, the retailer needs to ensure crisis preparedness and to have a solid plan in place that can be immediately executed.

    Summing up, while all these trends will definitely help retailers understand what’s trending globally, success often depends on sustaining customers’ interest levels throughout the entire purchase journey—regardless of what channels are being used. By adopting relevant and innovative retail technologies businesses expand their abilities, enabling them to adapt to changes in the marketplace and reach customers with what they need, in the right place, at the perfect time.