There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious and long-lasting impact on the Retail Industry. Now, as businesses gradually open up in a phased manner, it has become all the more important to stay up to date with the increasing changes and technological enhancements to provide seamless services. If retailers are to bounce back after lockdown lifts, it will only be through establishing their premises not solely as experiential playgrounds, but also as trusted and transparent safe havens and this is where technology will play a big role. It will change the way businesses operate while enhancing customer experience.
IMAGES Fashion Bureau spoke with Prashant Bokil, Chief Technology Officer, Being Human Clothing about the technologies that will pave the path for retail success in COVID times.
Excerpts from the interview:
Consumer data is the world’s most valuable resource at the moment. Tell us about your Consumer Data Management improving approach. What initiatives have you employed to maintain data privacy?
We, Being Human Clothing, maintain data hygiene by refining data from time to time. We have defined key points and processes to capture customer data as per the guidelines set by our experienced retail experts. We also use the best industry practices to keep our data safe and secure. One of the practices that we follow is that we store customer data like name, mobile number and email IDs in our ERP in an encrypted form. The access to this data is limited to a very few employees.
How important a role does the technology department play in a retail set up when it comes to boosting customer satisfaction levels?
Technology helps make retail flexible and fulfilling – both in terms of products as well as experiences for consumers. One technology that can increase the speed and efficiency of customer interactions in store is Chatbots. Using chatbots or emails to solve customer queries effectively and efficiently help unify customer communications and result in a better relationship with customers. Aside from this, algorithm-based software tools (Artificial Intelligence) help gather data in a sophisticated manner.
What micro-services are you working on to support in-store applications?
Some of the best microservices which we are working on – and a few have already been implemented – include:
- Content like for example Product Discovery, Product Information Management, Marketing Content, Search etc.
- Checkout: Basket/ Cart Management, Checkout Flows, Stock
- Transactional: Payment, Shipping, Pricing
- Marketing Automation: Transactional E-mails/ SMS, Personalization
What are some of the new technologies that will be indispensable for fashion retail post the COVID-19 pandemic?
According to me, some technologies which will be absolutely imperative for retail stores include:
- Customer appointment solutions
- Extensive use of omni experience
- New biometric devices with face detection and temperature checking features
- Technologies that measure the number of people in a store and how long they stay there
- Contactless or robust self-checkout options
- Virtual assistance sessions with customers
- Leveraging data from online channel to drive personalised and relevant marketing
- Using AI to unveil new shopping needs
- Increase in the use of voicebots or chatbots
As of now, how are you re-skilling your workforce to ensure they adhere to the new normal? How do you go about creating an innovation culture in the company?
Due to COVID-19 pandemic we have already changed the dimensions of orthodox office culture and had implemented many new advancements and will follow the same in the future.
We are conducting online awareness programs and skill set enhancement programs and this will be continuous process herein after, for we all have to adapt to a new normal post COVID-19.