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CONVERGENCE SERIES: Leveraging technologies: How retail is using automation to improve functions & offerings: Episode 1

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With the COVID hitting the world, and affecting the economy in many ways. One of the vital impacts is also counted on the retail sector, where brick and mortar stores were closed down, the customers were not able to visit experience centres. The automation came into the play, completely changing the shift in how consumers shop. Major retailers were leveraging technology to stand out in the competition by using high-tech tools to create a unique experience for its customers.

According to the report by NRF (National Retail Federation) and Euromonitor International, approximately 58% of retail professionals believe that the pandemic accelerated new technology-related products to launch at their company to elevate the customer experience and improve operational efficiencies. 

On the Episode 1 of Convergence Series, we talked about the automation technologies playing a pivotal role in driving the strategies for the retailers. To get insights of the topic we had an expert from the industry Mr. Vishal Kapil, CTO, Leading Fashion Retailers talk to  Satyen Makhija, Partner KPMG.

3C’s In the retail world

COVID,Customers and Convergences are the new C’s for the retail domain. With the pandemic, the mindset of customers have drastically changed that eventually resulted in retailers using different methods to attract customers.Vishal Kapil also added one more C in the list, which is ‘connected’. He believed that customers are more connected now and the organizations want to connect with their customers. He stated “In Indian origin, various reports stated that 80% increase is seen in brand owned e-commerce sites”. More and more action is seen from the brand side, which is a good sign for the retail ecosystem, he mentioned..      

Online Marketplace v/s Owned Platform 

Vishal Kapil, when highlighting the role of marketplaces in retail mentioned that companies who have just done e-commerce but don’t have the complete skills or technical knowledge. For them starting at a marketplace is a baby step. They have to gain insights on tech and other aspects and they will be ready. He further added that brands who have already signed with the sponsorship and business case can opt for an owned platform. There are multiple advantages to owning – an e-commerce platform as they give you better insights of the customer touch points and give you first party data, which can eventually result in enhancing the customer experience. He further added that owning a platform will also result in fixing budgets and setting targets accordingly. 

There are a number of advantages. At the end, we all are fighting for market shares and when you do things on your own, you get a better insight of the business, Vishal Kapil added.

Embedding Culture of Digitalization

“Find the people who have done that earlier and they will become a changing asset in your organization and create a team accordingly.The drift in the culture is also required to achieve a common target. Flow of good people is required and Flow of money is required, then building a tech part is an easy task,”Vishal Kapil mentioned. He added,”Talking about my organization, earlier Tech was a support function, then it became an enabling function then it resulted into becoming  ‘THE most important function’.    

You are fighting with e-commerce companies for market share, for that you need to understand that they are tech-driven companies.But here,retailers are trying to do something in the technology route. Understand it that way, and work accordingly.

Prioritizing Initiatives for the brand through pandemic lens  

First, prioritization should be made according to the consumer perspective and secondly, it should focus on revenue leakages and operational issues. The top most priority for retailers should be  legal and compliance. Brands should fulfill the government.regulatory issues and bind by the legalities in order to stay on track. Vishal further mentioned that these will take time and should be considered as an ongoing plan for the brands and retailers. . –





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