The Indian Retail Industry is considered one of the fastest growing industries in the world and technology has emerged as a helping hand to the industry. The world has seen a transition in retail planning –with the industry going from being product-centric to being customer-centric – and retailers are leveraging technologies to reach the modern shoppers.

Over time, retail technology has transcended from an aspiration to an expectation and has wedged itself securely between consumer and experience to create an everyday interface. While it has definitely made life easier for consumers, retailers in India have spent a better part of the last decade on their heels, reacting to profound changes throughout the sectors of the industry.

Retailers today are not fighting with retailers anymore; instead they’re fighting with different technological interventions in order to be the most competitive in the world. With growing competition, it has become extremely vital for retailers to innovate continuously and implement cutting-edge technologies to fulfil today’s demanding customers’ need.

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.

Over the past few years, a number of technology trends have evolved and dramatically altered the retail industry. The emergence and the transformational growth of the new economy has unleashed powerful forces which are eventually and successfully reshaping the retail industry at a transformational speed. In order to succeed, today’s retailers have to offer a seamless shopping experience across all channels – and should not lose track of their customers.

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 home 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.

Giant players of the retail industry have accepted technology with arms wide open to captivate and secure customers and have made optimum use of technology to optimize their business. Whereas small retailers, most of them belonging to the unorganized sector, are yet to adopt technology to be adept with the changes and technological innovations taking place in the retail market. If the entire unorganized retail trade, which is 80 percent of the entire retail trade, adopts technology, the retail industry will usher in a new era providing a much-needed thrust to the Indian economy. Technology is the knight on the white horse that will ride the retail market towards prosperity and triumph.

What took the year 2018 by storm is phrase ‘Experiential Retail’. It became the code of the moment; delivered through convenient accessibility, in-store features, customer engagement through ATL and BTL animation or out-of-the-box blends of the physical and digital shopping universe.

Some other trends that impacted the retail industry in a big way in 2018 are:

IoT (Internet of Things)

IoT has big implications for in-store marketing efforts of retailers and brands. Connected devices aren’t just changing the way consumers live, work and play – they’re dramatically reshaping the entire industry. The IoT movement offers retailers opportunities in three critical areas: customer experience, supply chain and new channels-revenue streams.

Leading retailers across the globe are already investing heavily in IoT. They are beginning to transform their business practices and recognize that, in time, IoT will touch nearly every area of retail operations and customer engagement. In the IoT of today, everything has the potential of coming under the IOT umbrella. From the lighting system in the store, the PoS (Point of Sales) system, to the electric switches and even garbage disposal units…IOT is at the heart of retail transformation. It connects people, machines, items, and services to streamline the flow of information, enable real-time decisions, and heighten consumer experiences.

While the IoT may still seem like science fiction, it is becoming reality faster than most of us can comprehend. Retailers that hesitate to develop and execute an IoT strategy will open the door for competitors – old and new alike – to swoop in and capture early IOT mind and market share.

SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud)

The relationship between consumers and enterprises has never been as intrigued as in the 21st century. As digital technologies augmented by SMAC are creating new touch points for enterprises to awe their consumers, there has been an evolution in consumer experiences. Social, mobile, analytics and cloud or SMAC are the nexus of forces, which are reshaping how consumers experience a brand.

SMAC are currently driving business innovation. It creates an ecosystem that allows a business to improve its operations and get closer to the customer with minimal overhead and maximum reach. Digital is now an essential part of the whole shopping experience and the entire business of retail, inside as well as outside the store. You don’t need to leave a physical store to get your digital fix. Instead, retailers are leveraging a wide array of in-store technologies meant to draw consumers in the door. As the impact continues to increase, the way retailers think of digital and invest in it, besides addressing the digital wants and needs of their customers is changing dramatically.

Big Data

Today, retailers are constantly finding innovative ways to draw insights from the ever-increasing amount of structured and unstructured information available about their customers’ behaviour.

Data gathering, and analytics are playing a key role in evolving business models in retail. Usage of data and analytics to better understand consumers in the form of branding, product management, leveraging loyalty card information to tracking customer buying behaviour and making better pricing decisions are the key factors. Collecting and leveraging customer information to provide personalized recommendations is the norm going forward.

Retailers – large and small – have been reaping the benefits of analysing structured data for years but are only just starting to get to grips with unstructured data. There is undoubtedly still a great deal of untapped potential in social media, customer feedback comments, video footage, recorded telephone conversations and locational GPS data. Great benefits have come to those who put it to best work, and the best solutions have more likely come from innovative thinking and approaches to analytics, rather than those who simply try to collect as much data as possible and then see what it does.

Omnichannel Retail Adaptation

Omnichannel is a term that extends and supersedes multi-channel. Multi-channel (or cross-channel) refers to delivering content and considering consumer experience on more than one channel. Omnichannel is about understanding and optimizing for the entire journey across all channels.

Omnichannel today is a necessity. Brick-and-mortar retailers have been left with no option but to add online channel to their offline operations in a bid to reach as many customers as possible, and quickly. Omnichannel retailing creates benefits for consumers and opportunities for retailers. For consumers, it empowers connected consumers by making it easier for them to access information and compare product details; by increasing choice; and by increasing convenience and the range of options for shopping. For retailers Omnichannel creates opportunities, ranging from potential extension of sales and increasing brand awareness and loyalty.

A poorly executed Omnichannel or personalization strategy, however, can do more harm than good. Handling one or two channels discretely but satisfying expectations is better than disappointing your consumers when you fail to deliver added value — or worse still, confuse or frustrate — while tackling all channels. Personalization can be even more dangerous because of very real risks that your brand can be given the dreaded creepy label.

To be successful at delivering a personalized experience in Omnichannel marketplace, adaptive content is a requirement. It is content that is designed for both personalization and delivery across many channels.

IMAGES Retail spoke to industry stalwarts to understand how technology has impacted their brands in 2018 and how it is going to shape its future in 2019:


How is technology changing the retail industry?

Technologies are engaging customers both in stores and online. Earlier retail means only physical store but at present due to the revolution in technology now customers can shop multi-channel round the clock and customers are empowered comparing products & prices online, updating reviews in social/digital media and even personal connect happens through digital medium. Customers are now emotionally attached to technology.

Operational Excellence: Interaction between customers and retailers are made easy by technology. Retailers can now quickly act on customers feedback and address the customer queries to give seamless experience by this way retailers can retain the loyal customers who is the backbone for our business.

Customer Experience & Engagement: Technology has closed the gap between online and offline Stores. At SPAR India, we have deployed technologies in stores to give seamless customer experience and engagement.

Multi-Channel: We have implemented multi-channel solutions where offline products are sold through cross channels. Customers can’t walk-in to store everyday hence adopting technology by retailers made them to sell same products offline and multi channels. It’s a win-win situation for retailers as well as customers.

Tell us in detail about the retail technologies that you introduced in 2018.

Project (A): In-store Technologies
We at SPAR Hypermarket have established the future of shopping in-store with the innovations like
– ‘Design Your Home’ 3D Studio: Allows customers to mix and match home décor products virtually.
– Fun Station: Entertains kids with interesting games and art works.
– Product and Location Finder: Installed at key locations in-store to help customers find products with ease.
– Self-Checkout and Assisted Checkout: Where customers can pay their own bills without hassle.
– Energy Conservation: SPAR monitors and tracks electricity consumption of equipment with a tracking system.
– In Store Mobile App: Provides easy & quick information on stock availability, promotions, sales, price changes etc.

Project (B): Omnichannel Solution
SPAR Omnichannel solution aims at providing superior shopping convenience to customers through various channels:
– Website ( This eCommerce website is an omnichannel model offering a virtual store.
– The Mobile Application: This App provides SPAR shopping experience on the go.
– Food Truck: This concept is a truck with fresh products offering the best prices in the customer’s locality.
– Digital Kiosk: “Closer to you” This is an innovative idea with easy and convenient interface for shopping to connect neighborhood store and communities.

According to you what are the retail tech trends that ruled the roost in 2018?

2018 was action teeming year in retail technology transformation. AI, IOT and VR on the rise. Now many retailers are tech companies. Several companies made advancement in Robotics, IOT, VR, AR, Analytics and Automation.

Retail tech trends that ruled in 2018:

– Personalization: The power of personalization helped retailers to give unique customer experience and a boost to sales and make customers feel special during shopping. AI and Analytics platforms were used for better customer engagement with personalized shopping experience both online and in stores. More retailers have started adapting to use AI-based capabilities and technologies to better match shopper’s expectation and convenience. Retailers can access personal shopping history, demographics, page views and clicks then use AI to offer better recommendations and individually tailor their marketing.

– Self-Checkouts: Checkout experience is a key for customer experience and retention. Retailers have done deep dive on improving the checkout experience by implementing mobile based checkouts, assisted checkouts, Q-busters, and express counters. Now checkouts are made faster and easier by online payments through wallets and payment gateways. Checkout based technology will continue to evolve that leads to better communication, connect and engage with customers in exciting new ways.

– Cloud Solution: Big brand retailers have invested in cloud technologies and it is proven to be beneficial for business by reducing the hosting cost, equipment and increasing the productivity and capacity. Any technology deployed based on cloud solution will help in keeping the company flexible and agile.

– Mobile based technology: Emerging technologies built are mobile friendly.
(a) Websites are mobile responsive
(b) Mobile Self-checkouts: Faster checkout by customers
(c) Mobile Wallets: Make the payment easier
Mobile will become an increasingly important tool in retail, both online and in stores. Customers shopping experience and engagement are made better by implementing mobile based technologies. More customers are comparing prices and products in mobile before buying the product in a brick and mortar store. Many retailers will invest in and optimize their mobile experience in 2019 as well.

IoT: Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected physical objects embedded with sensors. IoT allows these devices to communicate, analyse and share data about the physical world around us via networks and cloud-based software platforms. Smart-store applications, connected consumer and supply chain applications are the key applications of IoT. Retailers used beacons, sensors, and the Internet of Things devices to drive the in-store experience. 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.

IoT is the tool that have bridged the gap between the digital and physical worlds as it finally offers the ability to obtain and use data in stores. Advanced machine learning and AI are used to provide the personalized service based on the information gathered from the customers in stores. They will pilot more IoT programs to enhance store entry, customer interaction, improve merchandising and offer more rapid checkout.

What new can we expect from your kitty in 2019?

Next generation technologies will be implemented in stores and online to provide omni channel experience to customers.

Conversational Commerce:
Interaction through WhatsApp for improved customer connect.
– Online shoppers can contact a brand’s customer service team directly
– Helps in addressing all queries throughout customers buying journey
– Shoppers simply add the number to their contact list and start interacting with service representatives
– A discussion panel helps the service representatives to handle multiple queries at a time

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR):
The future of shopping is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR and AR are set to transform the customer shopping experience and replacing the pain points with captivating, interactive experiences that both inform and entertain.

– Customer engagement: Engage customers through an immersive interface that allows them to “feel” products at highly engaging levels.
– Customer Entertainment: Provide multiple layers of entertainment to customers of all ages; and attempt to create a “Digital Theme Parks” kind of environment inside the store.
– Customer Education: Provide multiple education modes and help customers make more informed buying choices. All education will happen through immersive experiences.
– Management: The system can also be used for managing operations which can include multiple objectives like training, efficiency management, and floor management, among others.

In Store Experiences:
– AR and VR games to engage children
– Augmented experience of recipes available on the shelves/Kiosk
– Virtual experiences of bedroom décor and apparels
– Produce experiences to show the utility of various products on the shelf
– Cross sell with contextual content

Chatbots are influencing customer shopping experience globally. There are immense benefits by chatbots.
– Customer engagement 24/7
– Automated shopping assistant
– Suggestive selling as chatbots are enabled with AI/ML
– Personalization

Visual Analytics Solution:
– A video analytics solution which takes the existing video/Visually capturing the feeds from the store cameras to extract information on customer movement (footfall trends, heat mapping, trajectory view, demographics details etc.) in the premises.
– Analyze and actionize on the insights to provide insights to improve the business.

To understand the customer shopping pattern, aligning the marketing campaign and stock of inventory accordingly
1) Shopper Behavior
– Customer Walk-in trends
– In-store paths analysis
– Day-wise customer behavior
2) Store Attraction
– Footfall and engagement
– Promotional effectiveness
3) Store Performance
– Customer footfall conversion
– Revenue projection
– Monitoring checkout queue length and alerts to store team

Voice Assistant:
Customers can buy or enquire the products through voice. This technology is powered by AI which understands customer shopping pattern and supports suggestive selling.
Business benefits:
– Power to change customer behavior
– Creating new habits
– Voice of brand
– CX enhancement

Proximity Marketing:
Personalized ads for targeted in store customers through our Omni Mobile App. Communicating to customers on relevant offers during their walkthrough in store on their smartphones.
– Welcome messages during entry point
– Promotions on store aisles based on purchase history
– Feedback on new products
This will enhance shopping experience, customer loyalty and improve the basket value.

Highlight the retail tech trends that will take the retail industry by storm in 2019.

Omnichannel Commerce:
Omnichannel retailing is a fully integrated approach provides shoppers a unified experience across online and offline channels. True omni channel shopping extends from brick and mortar store to mobile browsing, ecommerce, onsite storefronts, social/digital media, and any cross channels.

It is not about having a presence on multiple channels or giving customers an option to shop in multiple places. Mobile, marketing, merchandising, fulfillment, marketplaces, supply chain, operations…all of it, needs to be taken into consideration to be a robust omni-channel retailer.

Artificial Intelligence:
– Voice Assistant: Popular voice assistants are going to play a huge role in customer shopping pattern and experience.
– Robotic Assistant: Some of prominent restaurants and retailers are testing robotic assistant. This will be a trend setter technology for customer convenience.
– Last Mile Delivery by Drone: Drone will do Customer delivery.
(a) World’s first drone Chai (Tea) Delivery in India
(b) Alphahet’s Wing is launching a free drone delivery service
(c) Amazon is delivering items via drone

– Customer experience: Bots are transforming shopping experience for millions of consumers globally.
– Customer engagement: It engages customers more and it is proven engaged customers spend more. 24/7 engagement is possible through bots.
– Customer service: Real time customer service across multiple channels.
– Digital Marketing: Personalized offers based on purchase history and search patterns. Real time actionable offers to customers.

Types of bots: Social network bots, monitoring bots, partner bots, searching engine crawler bots, security bots etc.

Cyber Security:
Cybersecurity for retail companies needs to be a priority. As per the statistics, one in three retailers globally lose revenue over cyber-attacks. As per couple of articles published online, only 52 percent feel their security infrastructure is up-to-date with the latest threats. Even more worrying is that only 61 percent feel they’re fully compliant with retail security standards. As a result, more companies are turning their attention toward cybersecurity and compliance in the retail industry.

Retailers see some alluring possibilities for using IoT technology in their businesses. 2019 seems likely to be a year for pilot programs and small-scale testing. IoT bridges the gap between online and in store shopping, automation, and new ways to engage with customers are all concepts with major upside for retailers, but the technology has only recently started to take hold.

IoT adoption by retailers has been growing rapidly and is being used to improve customer experience, track in-store assets, reduce theft, improve inventory management, and deliver personalized promotions. Also, due to the penetration and increasing usage of smartphones experiences enabled by IoT in retail are finding more adopters.

“Technology will play a major role in customer experience, engagement and convenience which will influence shopping pattern”


How is technology changing the retail industry?

We all know that the world is completely depend on technology in the 21st century, as is the retail industry. In today’s time, if we don’t have technology, we are as good as non-existent on earth. Take the example of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) application/technology which has become integral part of the retail world, without which retailers can’t maintain or improve customer experience.

With CRM technology, retailers don’t have to depend on the store manager’s ability to convert customer feedback in to analytical reports or remember customer birthdays to wish them. Everything is done automatically. Many other tasks are also taken care of by CRM which not only improve customer experience but also help to fine tune our products, based on customer feedback.

Omnichannel presence, along with 24×7 availability and cheap Internet has opened many more mediums for retailers to push their products to customers in a much better manner, including in live video formats.

Apart from this, IoT technologies are also improving customer satisfaction, which in turnare resulting in more sales for retailers.

Tell us in detail about the retail technologies that you have introduced this year.

We at TBZ LTD have introduced lot of new technologies to help our sales staff, marketing and retail teams to increase sales and improve customer experience. These include:

– Integrated CRM Solution – For one-point customer information, loyalty, discounts/coupons and his/her experience/feedback

– e-Catalog – For showing all the designs in TBZ, across showrooms and in our design bank. This was missing till last year.

– Mobile POS– Though it is still evolving, customers no longer need to stand in long queues for billings at TBZ stores now.

– Free Wi-Fi–We have started pushing free Wi-Fi to all our customers in the showroom for better connectivity with their loved ones. This is more important when you are making big purchases or buying gifts for someone else.

According to you, what are the retail tech trends that ruled the roost in 2018?

2018 was the year of connected customers. After Jio’s entry with free internet, customers started consuming more information regarding products, reviews, feedback and online buying. Apart from internet, the one technology which almost all retailers are trying to get their hands on is AI (Artificial Intelligence). Infact, we are also testing the same for a few of our stores, to showcase our designs to customers based on their liking, mood and past purchase/search history. However, I still feel CRM technology is the best thing which has helped retailers a lot this past year.

What new can we expect from your kitty in 2019?

Many more technology innovations like:

– Virtual Trial Along with Artificial Intelligence: This is something we are testing currently, in a few stores, and will soon launch across all stores.

– Facial Recognition: We are working with a few partners to enable facial recognition of our customers, whenever they walk in to our stores, to provide them with better customer experience and products which they like.

– Marketing Automation: We are working on automating our marketing campaigns for better customer engagement and improved services.

– Try @ Home:The brand is working on Try at Home solution on top of virtual trials to reach more and more customers at their comfort and convenience.

Highlight the retail tech trends that will take the retail industry by storm in 2019.

As per me, if focused more from a holistic approach, technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) will completely change the retail industry. I am sure by the end of 2019, AI along with Machine Learning, will give us a completely new retail industry, which you can call Retail 3.0. We also need to be careful while choosing technology, as over-engineering can kill the experience and industry.


How is technology changing the retail industry?

The retail industry has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade, and it continues to evolve quickly. Almost every customer is an online customer, The 360 degrees life cycle of customer journey now starts from online research, product and price comparison, feedback and customer support about a product or service is as easy and digital as sending a tweet or comment, prompting immediate actions. This has encouraged further tech innovation which allow customers to explore more and more, adding value to the retail experience.

Self-checkout kiosks and mobile-phone payments aim to speed up check-out and eliminate the queues and waiting time in-store. Overall consumer expectations in retail are changing rapidly. The Internet has given rise to a culture of instant gratification. Information and entertainment are available to anyone within seconds.

According to you what are the retail tech trends that ruled the roost in 2018?

In-Store Experience: With the use of beacons, mPOS (mobile point of sale), near field communication, Digital screens; retailers are able to know customers from the moment they walk in. With targeted marketing messages retailers are able to reach potential consumers, with the help of mPOS retailers have achieved faster checkout and improved speed of services. Retailers are able to attract, engage and convert prospects into shoppers.

Online Experience: Online retailers are customizing their shopping experience for mobile phones through building responsive websites / apps that adjust their user-interface as per the device the consumer is using.

Using IOT’, AI and Robotics at retail warehouses optimized inventory management, error free shipments, digital integrations with supply chain network improved speed of delivery and transparency in shipment movement to customers.

Data’s role in both online and brick-and-mortar retailer decision-making is key, especially as technologies like Big Data and Machine Learning continued to mature. Forward-thinking retailers are exploring ways to collect and leverage data in their sales, marketing, customer service, and operations.

Highlight the retail tech trends that will take the retail industry by storm in 2019.

In 2019, emerging technologies that change the way consumers interact with their favourite brands and retailers. Personalized shopping experience is the highest priority for both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

– Internet of Things: Retailers will adopt Internet of Things which will make shopping easier, quicker and more convenient. Retailers can collect voluminous data and actionable insights about customers’ product usage and preferences. This will allow targeting marketing to customers throughout every phase of the buyer journey.

– Artificial Intelligence (AI): These are powered computer programs that retailers can use to interact with their shoppers. It is the technology that will reshape the retail landscape, driven by data from customers themselves. AIlike Siri, Google and Alexa are already revamping the shopping experience. AI will play a crucial role in manufacturing, distribution to delivery. Chatbots will be used process orders, payments and post-sales support.

– Big Data Analytics: Big data analytics continues to mature. It is helping in strategic decision making. Retailers are exploring new ways to leverage big data analytics to enhance different aspects of the business right from sales, marketing, payments and customer service to retail operations.

– Subscription E-Commerce Model: Online retailers will adopt subscription e-commerce models which will help them retain consumers. In many categories, monthly subscriptions are disrupting industries and it’s ideal for retailers because it guarantee customers into purchasing a particular product / service from them.


How is technology changing the retail industry?

Shoppers are demanding more from retailers, with technology evolving faster. The Omnichannel demands from customers are shaking the current business models of retailers and technology is becoming at the centre of Omnichannel offerings to the consumer. Mobility, alongside advancement of IoT technologies, are forcing retailers to integrate these solutions for differentiation at the point of sales. Product offering is no longer going to be at the heart of the offerings to the consumer which the retailers are transitioning to. Retail experience is going to be the core differentiator and new avenues are being experimented to provide a rich and unique experience to the customer in the Omnichannel journey.

Tell us in detail about the retail technologies that you have introduced this year.

We have created a total Omnichannel network which provides seamless product availability done experiments with lot of Insight driven Data Analytics. The data which is being generated is able to help make our offering far sharper. This integrated offering is helping us serve the customer in the choice that they prefer to. This integrated solution was possible with a modern store infrastructure which included better network and modern POS solution.

According to you what are the retail tech trends that ruled the roost in 2018?

– Omni-commerce refinement was the theme for the year. Retailers were trying to optimize their offerings for the customer.

– Analytics solutions did become mainstream and lot of data driven decision making like Assortment Planning, Mardown Planning etc were being implemented.

– POC of AI solutions gathered pace and solution definition was happening in the last year.

– Cost and Profitability was the key business driver for model optimisation throughout the year.

What new can we expect from your kitty in 2019?

– Everywhere Commerce – This is a significant trend which is becoming more prevalent and customers are demanding choices of commerce of their convenience. The ability to serve seamlessly is becoming challenging.

– Convergence of Voice / Image / Video is happening fast and customer touch points are moving towards an integrated solution. Conversational commerce platforms are emerging and will evolve in the next few years. They will be initial offerings from providers to refine their offering in this space.

Integrated Intelligent Enterprise Solution with use of AI / ML will start seeing the reality.

Highlight the retail tech trends that will take the retail industry by storm in 2019.

Watch the space for conversational commerce. Image Recognition technologies are also maturing and will find its place in the coming year.


How is technology changing the retail industry?

With ever increasing cost pressure, higher attrition rate, lack of quality manpower and increasing places of business it has become imperative to solve the problems raised by each of these areas. Technology has solved/solving some of the issues related to productivity, reducing people dependency and making processes seamless.

Tell us in detail about the retail technologies that you have introduced this year.

We have introduced AI-backed BOT for employees on the employee App. This is to ease the task being performed by employee and in the longer term to get more insights about people. We would launch the voice version of the same early next year. Apart from this we have launched RPA for automating some of the disparate processes which involved a lot of manual work.

According to you what are the retail tech trends that ruled the roost in 2018?

Analytics, AI/ML, IOT and RPA

What new can we expect from your kitty in 2019?

Advanced Supply Chain automation and optimization solutions, planning using ML, strengthening people solutions and taking forward AI/ML to other business areas.

Highlight the retail tech trends that will take the retail industry by storm in 2019.

AI/ML and RPA will become core to the strategies of Retail CIO’s.