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Tech: The Right Hand of Retail

Tech: The Right Hand of Retail

Tech: The Right Hand of Retail Tech: The Right Hand of Retail
Associate Vice-President - Retail
Valtech
Chetan Bangalore Vijayakumar

December 19, 2019

How industry leaders are using technology to boost business

The threat of e-commerce to brick-and-mortar retailers peaked during the .com boom of the early 2000s. Traditional retailers faced an immediate need to innovate to survive in a world where consumer behavior was shifting to online. Fortunately, the same technologies that underpin pure play e-commerce vendors can provide a springboard for re-invention by brick-and-mortar retailers.

The Micro-services Springboard

The digital arena enables traditional retailers to engage customers better, increase customer loyalty and be relevant to the technological native generations. However, not all technology is created equal. Deploying the app-based tactics described below requires an underpinning infrastructure that supports fast deployment, simple content reuse and low-cost experimentation. Traditional monolithic e-commerce platforms struggle to meet these needs. In contrast, a micro-services based infrastructure, such as commercetools, empowers retailers to innovate in this changing market rapidly.

App-based Approaches to Reinventing Retail

Customers can now virtually engage with stores through the use of an app (whether installed on their own mobile phone, a store­ provided tablet or another in-store utility).

These apps can help improve user experience and increase sales by:

Intuitive registration

Managing the globalization of the brand - efficiently is a challenge to most organizations. Technology can help them break the language and culture barriers, allowing sales associate (SA) inside the store to focus on sales rather than peripheral activities surrounding user registration and other mundane tasks. A customer's registration app in a language of his or her choice along with translated alerts and error messages will ensure that the registration process is intuitive and can be performed by the customer.

The app can also assist with store count, determine the amount of foot traffic and track returning customers. This app (if installed on the customer's phone/tablet) can send customized notifications to customers on discounts, special offers and new arrivals.

Upsell and cross-sell

The point of sales application can provide the SA with critical information about customer behavior to accurately cross-sell and upsell items that associates can propose to the customer at the counter. Recognizing what  customers  appeal to most helps managers determine which items to discount.

Endless aisle and store catalogue

It is not always possible to have  all the brand  products for display within a store. However, an application which can scan a bar code or QR code of an item can help the customer view the available variants, colors and sizes. SAs also benefit as they can quickly identify how much quantity is in stock along with a description of the product.

The same technologies that underpin pure play e-commerce vendors can provide a springboard for re-invention by brick-and-mortar retailers.

Smart-cart

Consider a hypermarket. Customers will normally walk into to the department store that  is more  familiar to him/her.

Now, Consider a smart app attached to a voice­ enabled cart. Customers can interact with this app/cart and get a personalized shopping experience. The app acts as a personal shopping assistant to the customer to:

  • Locate a product - Which aisle? Which row?
  • Offers - Inform on alternate products and deals.
  • Wishlist - List the items that the customer may want to buy, based on his purchase history.
  • Customized offers - Display special offers for privileged customers.
  • Client Advisor lookup - CA to reach customer based on customer location in the store.
  • Purchase History - Customer can view the history of their previous cart.

Most commentaries on technology and brick­ and-mortar stores focus on the threat posed by e-commerce. These same digital technologies offer a new path forward for traditional retailers. Micro-service architecture is the key to unlocking this value. 

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