With ‘work from home’ and ‘shop from home’ expected to continue, retailers should look at investing and getting themselves attuned with leading trends and best practices, with implementation being the key
The pandemic has dramatically changed the way the world operates, more so it has led to major shifts in consumer interaction with brands. The consumer decides the medium of conversation whether it is online, social media, instant messaging applications or in the store. They expect generosity and clearly, they are getting more demanding.
To top it all consumers are clearly liking this new experience of being spoilt with choices, this new way of experience is definitely here to stay and co-exist with the traditional forms of retailing and is clearly increasing its pie on the overall share.
Digital intervention has led to an evolution of sorts and is bringing in newer ways of connecting, while improving customer engagements with brands and at the same time brands are also getting to know more about their customer’s interests and preferences.
As a consumer, it is important to get associated to a brand which ensures data security and at the same time showcases the right merchandise mix
And that’s why we believe that adaptation and acceptance are critical for traditional retailers who haven’t yet realized that the journey is here to stay and further improve. For the ones who now have accepted this new normal are busy running the catchup story and the soonicorns are the ones defining the trends.
Let’s look at some of the technology interventions which will continue to be key areas of investment:
Improved customer connects
Listening to the customer’s voice is going to remain critical, and better platforms to run this would keep coming up. Social listening and working back on customer feedback is not only being used to improve after-sales experience, but also to bring in the right mix of categories for a better online and in-store experience. Blogs and social media influencers will keep getting associated with brands to improve sales. There clearly is a need for a more robust, simple and iterative technology platform for retailers which could then, allow customers and influencers to converse on the same page with brands.
The point of ‘sale is now being referred to as a point of ‘service and is further transitioning to be one of the most important applications in the physical retail environment.
Improving supply chain efficiencies will continue to be one of the most important aspect for retailers. With retail going more online, supply chain efficiencies are extremely important to be worked upon. Customers today expect deliveries to happen as fast as two hours or worst-case same day. It is technology that has brought this comfort to the retailers to integrate back with third party logistics providers and last mile operators for quick deliveries. With digital forms of retailing taking centre stage, retailers may look at opting for dark stores than physical stores. At the same time they should also look at rejigging physical stores, which would allow for integration as delivery and pick-up locations and lead to improving customer experience and reducing supply chain costs.
Integrated e-commerce and future of point-of-sale (POS)
The expectation from customers is to recall online journeys in a physical store and vice versa. This means omni-channel becomes an ominous place for a customer to be with for a brand. The newer ways of interactions would allow the consumer to recall their journeys across channel of sales – be it online, application, in-store etc. The point of ‘sale is now being referred to as a point of ‘service and is further transitioning to be one of the most important applications in the physical retail environment. The future of POS will allow the customer to use their own mobile phone for scanning the product and generating an invoice which can further be paid using any digital medium or through gift cards and vouchers. The future POS could also lie in the hands of floor staff as they will act as an information kiosk and will have records of a customer’s, previous sales and interests. They could also serve as inventory checkers and could serve as auto-suggester’s, basis the current choices made on the floor.
Order orchestration and fulfilment
To offer improved delivery time for customer across channels, it is imperative to have a flawless order orchestration and order fulfilment system, which can then ensure a correct order routing and delivery in the least time possible.
And that’s why we believe that adaptation and acceptance are critical for traditional retailers who haven’t yet realized that the journey is here to stay and further improve
Process automation and analytics
BOTs currently and more in the future would take up a lot of mundane processes which are resource intensive. At the same time, data can help drive efficiency in business decisions around seasonality planning, procurement, allocations, fill rates, pricings, etc.
With office going to homes, we have all seen and heard about the onset of cyber-attacks. These cyber-attacks are likely to continue and with this the investments to foolproof the environment as well. Cyber criminals are getting smarter and are fishing for any gap in the systems which can be exploited. It is crucial for all retailers to ensure that the customer data is safe. Futuristically, data security would actually increase the online footfall for a brand as brands will/may start advertising data security and privacy protocols in specific. As a consumer, it is important to get associated to a brand which ensures data security and at the same time showcases the right merchandise mix.
Going forward, it will be important for brands/retailers to analyze shifting consumer preferences while continuously investing in technology tools. With ‘work from home’ and ‘shop from home’ expected to continue, retailers should look at investing and getting themselves attuned with leading trends and best practices, with implementation being the key.
Harsha Razdan, Partner and Head Consumer Markets and Internet Business, KPMG in India
Puneet Mansukhani, Partner – Digital Consulting, KPMG in India