In order to stay relevant in a highly competitive market, every retailer needs to stay on top of technological advances and also learn how to exploit these technical innovations to forward their business goals.
Head of Business Consultant, Infor Indian Subcontinent, Bino George says, “Brick-and-mortar players recognize and accept the importance of technology. They want to use it, they want to be a part of technological advancements because they understand that if they don’t, they will drift away from what the whole market is doing.”
“Today, the entire retail ecosystem has smartened with technology. There are so many things one can experiment with if a retailer uses technology, for example: smart displays, in-store services, smart shelves, home delivery, brand optimization options, supply chain optimization, logistics automation to name just a few.”
“Then there are wallets, point of sale data, social networking – where you can hone in on complaints as well as get appreciated. All this is driven by the retailer into applications where the consumer sees, feels, asks the retailer questions and eventually buys the product,” he adds.
Bino George also mentioned iBeacons – or beacons as they are more commonly known. Introduced in the US this past year, beacons help gather deep insights on consumer behavior since they provide endless opportunities to collect massive amounts of untapped data – what products customers buy more often, the store locations that are most crowded, most commonly traversed paths in a store – to help better plan layouts, product placement and staff allocations. Beacons also help personalize shoppers’ experience, taking customers’ preferences, tastes and past purchases into account.
George said he hoped beacons would become a reality in the Indian retail scenario soon.
He also said mobile payments is the future of retail because there is a preference for mobile payments among consumers, which retailers can tap into. Also, by offering mobile payments, the management can process in-store payments faster. Mobile payment apps also usually have features that help retailers engage consumers more, leading to repeat business. They also ensure that the payments are secure.
Head-Buying and Merchandising Bigbasket.com, Sheshu Kumar admits to relying heabily on Big Data to forward business at Bigbasket. He says, “I use data to analyse whether a consumer is using our store for all his needs for just a selection of items. Depending on the data that we have, we sit and figure out ways to retain the consumer, to make him see that Bigbasket is a one-stop-shop for all his household consumption needs. This is where I can use billable data plus my loyalty program to understand a consumer’s needs, what he buys from us, how many times a month does he visit our e-store etc.”
MD N Stores, C Gopalakrishnan says, “I deal in food retailing. Earlier, I used to meet and talk to customers, convince them to buy certain products. The empirical data that I had was gathered purely through interaction with consumers. However, technology is changing and so are we. We are gathering information on consumers – what they buy, how often do they visit the stores etc. We keep them informed about whether their favourite products have come in the store. We deliver as well.”
Head, Marketing and Strategy, Ginesys, Rohit Khetan concludes, “What our customers now expect us to do is that the operation should be simple, scalable and seamless as in enabling different payment modes, offline and online retail in the same software or managing CRM system which is global in nature. Our customers have access to stores in almost all states, they want a uniform loyalty programs to run across the country, they want uniform benefits in all branches. We provide that. We also give them discounts – both online as well as offline. That is where the seamlessness comes in.”
Thus, with ever transforming retail scenario, retailers need to keep up with the changing trends in technology – to surprise customers and beat competition!