The retail industry has always been a hub of constant evolution, warranting a dynamic management policy. With the advent of Covid-19, the functionality of the conventional retail management solution has undergone many changes.
The shift to digital platforms has altered consumer preferences and buying patterns due to strict norms on social distancing, limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside the store. Many technology trends have thus emerged to deal with these challenges suitably. Here's a look at the seven most prominent ones:
The very layout of the traditional brick-and-mortar retail store is in question because of the pandemic. Hygiene concerns have also been a point of discouragement for conventional physical purchases.
Augmented shopping is a new reality, wherein virtually trying on merchandise is becoming popular. In this scenario, virtual shopping assistants and virtual stores are game-changers. Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality in retail is a big step towards catering to consumer preferences without causing health hazards.
Data-Led Retail Management Solution
Particularly in the realm of demand forecasting, relying on a top-notch, data-driven retail management solution is a must. In the past, retail software mostly catered to store POS and operational requirements. A top-down approach drove the management-level decisions and company policies.
In today's highly digitised era, new brands are switching from legacy-based systems to highly accurate retail analytics. From the time a new product conceptualisation takes place to the moment it hits the shopping aisle, the entire process has become digitised and data-driven today.
AI-led Personalisation and Marketing Communication
AI-driven insights can be extremely useful in rendering a personalised touch to your marketing communication. Even with field marketing activities and merchandising within the retail store, data-driven personalisation endeavours have a higher chance of success.
From crafting tailored purchase suggestions to creating a holistic shopping experience, the role of AI in customer service is profound. Modern-day retailers are harnessing the benefits of AI-based software for streamlining customer relationship management and fostering repeat purchases.
Self Checkout Kiosks
QR Code Scanning and QR Code Scanning have gained immense popularity in the pandemic. The phenomenal success of these contact-free payment modes has stirred retailers into developing self-checkout technology.
A self-checkout kiosk is like an ATM vestibule with a simplified POS setup. Customers can scan their merchandise, get an e-invoice on their smartphone, pay digitally, and get an instant e-receipt.
Portable Fulfilment Centres
With the traditional large-scale retail store format adversely affected by footfall, all that space rental seems frivolous today. Retail brands are now opening up mini-fulfilment centres close to residential areas.
Mostly, these are open-air stalls that offer a set of specialised products for trial or sampling. Once the customers place the order, same day delivery is possible from the nearest warehouse. Opening these fulfilment centres requires considerable market research, aided by an accurate database.
Smart POS Solutions
The traditional retail POS has evolved big time today. What were a simple cash register and EDC machine setup has now become a full-fledged store management module. POS Solutions today facilitate a lot more than just payments.
Many POS functions include conducting a retail audit, inventory management, employee management, customer feedback, and loyalty program integration. Not only does this ease out retail operations, but it also enhances the customer experience and ensures repeat visits.
Customer Service Robots
The need for contactless shopping in the Covid-19 era has led to innovation in developing customer service bots in retail establishments. A customer service bot has detailed programmes to meet and greet customers.
This feature follows the voice command interpretation to guide them with products that meet their specific requirements. A similar advancement has been pivotal in e-commerce, with driverless delivery carts and drones for doorstep deliveries.
The future of retail belongs to omnichannel retailers who aren't afraid to take risks. It belongs to retail businesses that are ready to invest in Big Data and relevant AI tools. There are multiple AI-based solutions for Retail Forecasting, Retail Audit, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, Merchandising, and Store-level KOPs. Hence, embracing technological changes and adopting a data-driven approach is the key to higher footfalls, conversions, and profitability.
Published by Doreen Burger