More than 15k stores shut its operation in 2020, 9k+ in 2019. It’s sad to see “TO LET” boards hanging on what used to be retail stores. We’re in the midst of covid pandemic on one side and the retail apocalypse on the other. Good news is that together we can fight them both. We’ve got your back. This is the fourth insight in our 10-article series of retail digital transformation. In this insight, discover how you can leverage computer vision, edge intelligence and cloud’s scalability to build resilience, induce business agility and unlock growth opportunities.
Making Retail Apocalypse A Joke
If you could figure out five simple questions, next time someone tries to scare you with “Retail Apocalypse”, you’ll burst into laughter. Here are the five questions –
- Is my product available and accessible via the right channels, at the right time, to the right buyer, at the right price?
- How to further enhance the consumer experience?
- How to make the supply-chain more robust?
- How to improve the success of NPD?
- What’s next in retail?
We aim to answer these questions in this insight. Retail is evolving at a breakneck speed, so will the answers to these questions but the underlying substance remains the same for next few years i.e., retail digital transformation.
- Omnichannel Challenges & Solutions
- Exploiting Emerging Technologies For Successful Omnichannel Retail Execution & NPD
Omnichannel Challenges & Solutions
In this cut-throat competitive retail landscape, esp with e-commerce burgeoning post-covid, how FMCG players are gonna unfold their cards is gonna decide who wins the race to dominate retail in the coming decade.
Omnichannel retail face following three prominent challenges –
Omnichannel challenge 1 : Cross-Channel Conflicts
Customers tend to switch channels during their shopping journey. Some customers might explore the product offline and order it online through third-party merchants like Amazon to avail some discounts and cashbacks or maybe to use their vendor’s wallet money or reward points. Others may research about the product online and then visit a nearby store to make the purchase.
Channel conflict makes it challenging to execute omnichannel strategy and provide seamless experience for the consumer. To lower the churn rate and maximize conversions you need to be with the customer throughout the buying journey. It involves triggering right-emails, SMS, pop-up notifications etcetera to communicate about price-drop alerts, online or store-specific offers, product availability and loyalty programs.
You need well-integrated data-aware technical infrastructure across channels that communicate in real-time. Of-course, you can’t track your customers on third-party apps but you need to be aware of customer activities on your platforms. You need to be in control of the customer experience (CX) you’re delivering at all touchpoints where consumers interact with your brand. A minimal integrated infrastructure would include –
- cross-platform web & mobile apps built using microservices architecture and scalable cloud technologies,
- real-time database in the cloud, and
- a robust POS software
Omnichannel challenge 2 : Customers Expectations & Behaviour
Customer expectations are rising, customer buying patterns are evolving. More number of customers are associating themselves with brand ethics & values. They want personalized products, services and offers. As per this research –
- 59% of consumers say tailored-experiences based on past interactions are important to them.
- 80% business buyers expect real-time interactions with the brand, and
- 89% of business buyers want companies to understand their needs and expectations.
- 56% consumers prefer buying from companies that stay ahead of the rest with innovative products.
It’s challenging for companies to keep pace with the evolving buying psychology of millennials and baby boomers.
With digital advancements, this trend is going to continue in the foreseeable future. The only way for brands to meet customer expectations, deliver seamless retail experience and to stay relevant is by-
- Embracing digital transformation to be accessible from anywhere, anytime,
- Building AI-powered chatbots to be available in real-time
- Leveraging XR to deliver immersive on-demand experience
- Relying on data to bake immediate, personalized experiences
- Investing heavily in R&D, AI-driven NPD to push for consistent, quantum improvements
Omnichannel Challenge 3 : Supply-Chain Transformation
Retail supply-chain logistics encompasses raw-material procurement, in-store inventory, warehouse management, and final product delivery to the consumer. According to a report,
- 67% of online buyers check for return policies of the e-commerce vendor before making a purchase,
- 47% of these customers long for “no questions asked policies”,
- 62% consumers say they would be more willing to purchase if “return in-store policy” is available.
BOPIS is peaking and so is BORIS. Buying online and returning to the store is a rising trend. All these evolving trends pose a bit of extra stress on the retail supply chain. Transformation supply-chain is essential, you can no longer consider supply-chain as a back-office business. It’s more mainstream now than ever. But supply-chain transformation has its own challenges –
- Integration of web & mobile apps with your ERP, 3PLs, shipping software etc.,
- Optimizing supply-chain speed & efficiency,
- Managing returned shipments
Here’s what you can do –
- Leverage accessibility of mom & pop stores
Jeff Bezos was seen clicking pics with one of the kirana-store merchants who has signed-up to let Amazon use extra-available space in his store as a mini-fulfillment centre. Customers can pick their goods from these edge-locations. In developing countries, effectively leveraging the proliferation of neighborhood stores can play “Turup Ka Ikka” for your successful retail execution.
In developing markets, though e-commerce is flourishing but it’s still at a very nascent stage. For instance, in India e-commerce accounted for only $60Bn in sales while the retail market in entirety is a mammoth $950Bn+ opportunity.
It’s not late, at-least not yet.
To reserve a significant retail pie in developing countries, phygital retailers need to strengthen their strategy by integrating Mom-&-Pop stores in their retail execution strategy. These departmental stores are at the forefront of multiple revolutions the world is witnessing – be it the fight against covid, the rise of digital payments or extending their space as e-commerce order pick-up-points.
- Digitizing your supply-chain
Would you not say ‘YES’ to modernizing your supply-chain pipeline if I tell you you doing so will result in –
- 30% cost cuts, and improved efficiency
- Shortened retail supply chain cycle by 60%
- A 3.2% boost in revenue and increased sales
So what does retail supply chain digital transformation look like?
Retail supply chain digital transformation involves –
- Using robotics for smart warehouse management
- Using IoT for smart warehouse, in-store shelves
- Using Analytics by integrating data from several enterprise applications into a common channel to be processed by intelligent algorithms.
- Using AIML algorithms to help you with the decision making process or automating it.
- Analysing data harvested from in-store smart cameras, IoT sensors, POS applications, ERP softwares, consumer-facing web and mobile applications, S&OP digital tools, production-hub IoT sensors etc.,
Exploiting Emerging Technologies For Successful Omnichannel Retail Execution & NPD
Let’s first decode Walmart’s stint in Brazil.
In 2018, Walmart had to shut 80% of their stores in Brazil as they struggled to gain traction. Big reasons behind this bitter experience is attributed to their inability to localize & personalize offerings, inaccurate & insufficient promotional offers & discounts as well as ineffective store proximity to the customers.
Now, why did we share that?
No, inducing fear in you is not the motto. The intent behind sharing is to underline the importance of holistic organisational approach towards digital transformation. If you get the right ERP, right IoT sensors and your web/mobile app is not scalable and breaks during peak hours then we’re doomed to fail. If we get all the data from different sources but they are not integrated in the correct way, machine intelligence would not be of great help. Digital transformation has to be enterprise wide. It doesn’t mean buying and deploying digital tools but also to groom the right talent and embrace operational shifts. If you feel, it’s too much an effort and you can’t afford it, you’re right. If you feel, it is going to be worth the effort, and you can do it with baby-steps, you’re right again. Leadership is about choices, right?
So, how to minimize the probability of bloopers like Walmart had in Brazil?
Short answer – data-led personalized retailing.
Long answer –
A well strategized, data-led dexterous retail execution can help FMCG enterprises avoid such mishaps and instead strengthen their footholds and successfully grab a fair share of the retail opportunity in developing markets. Retail executives need to prioritize what data says! Data harvested using smart shelves embedded with IoT sensors, web & mobile apps, POS softwares and Smart cameras etc gives you rich insights into how fast your product is selling, which products are performing well, when & where it is performing the best etc., So, basically you have high quality dependent real-time data about the product SKUs, sales, locality, time, price and performance of promotional programs. Smart analysis of this data can help you in taking fail-proof decisions. Smart shelves also help you maintain consistent availability of your products across hot-zones.
- From click to ship – personalized global retail strategy
India is home to 12Mn+ mom-&-pop stores. In 2018, Indonesia – the largest economy in southeast asia, recorded sales of $200Bn+ in the food & grocery segment. In Africa retail is so ubiquitous, they call everyone a retailer. LATAM retail market is projected at $297Bn and is growing at a CAGR of 2.5%.
So, how does one get the nerve of these markets? How global FMCG enterprises can hatch effective sales & marketing strategies for developing countries? How can retail executives gauge their CPG product performance at these millions & millions of stores in real-time?
With unorganized retail accounting for 98% of Indian Retail market, 48% of this belonging to grocery alone, it is damn crucial to have real-time insights into your product’s performance at all points of sales (POS), esp at departmental stores.
Computer vision led in-store data aggregation and analytics empowers management executives in eliminating any assumptions or biases involved in decision making and instead enables them not just to curate highly localized sales & marketing strategies but also real-time promotional offers for the end-customers.
Artificial Intelligence is enabling the revolutionary digitization shift in retail. Over the last decade, AI technology & specifically computer vision algorithms have become sophisticated enough to recognize and label images in the real-time. Leveraging this cutting-edge technology, retailers can get real-time insights about their products in any store enabling them to push the right products in front of the right buyers when they are most likely to make the purchase.
All this empowers retail enterprises to ensure compliance with planograms, smart inventory-management and proper on-ground retail execution.
- Accelerated NPD, Innovation & Agile Retail Execution
With real-time geographical data over consumer’s evolving consumption pattern & buying behaviour, retail enterprises can improve success rates of new product innovation & development. Again, smart data-led analysis of the need for new products and personalizing it’s promotions based on the target audience can help.
Contact Us For Building Transformational Retail Solutions. Reach out to our retail digital transformation experts for exploring tech synergies.