Digital Transformation

Retail Recommendation Engines to Improve Customer Relationships
Retail Recommendation Engines to Improve Customer Relationships Raju G

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Retail Recommendation Engines to Improve Customer Relationships

In the modern retail ecosystem where the consumer is in control of the marketing channels, cloud based contact center can offer your retail business a solution to connect to the consumers across multiple touch points. Cloud based service offerings can not only enhance omnichannel experience, but also streamline data flow and optimize your computing operations.    

Recommendation system with purchase data is at the heart of the technological change in the retail sector that has transformed the way retailers interact with their customers. Retailers are now moving away from traditional marketing and finding newer ways to engage with their customers more efficiently and meaningfully by going the digital transformation way.

Recommendation engines encourage customers to explore newer products. They provide better and richer alternatives for items the customers plan to purchase. They also recommend options under various categories like related items, popular products, items bought together, and more.

These experiences are important to keep customers loyal to a retailer and consequently improve the retailer’s ROI. Netflix may not be a traditional retailer, but it is easy to understand how lost the viewers would be had it not been for its super-efficient, ever evolving recommendation system!

Recommendation Systems with Purchase Data

Recommendation Systems with Purchase Data

Recommendation systems with purchase data are introduced at specific points in the journey of shopping and at the end of the journey so that the customer feels fulfilled with their experience. For this, several players use decision tools. Called “automatic recommendation systems,” these tools analyze a customer’s purchase behavior and set the stage for  digital ubiquity in retail. By employing complex algorithms, they help retailers identify products the customer may buy if they were to display it to the customer.

Let us look at how the recommendation engines really work towards creating and maintaining an enriching customer relationship.

#1. Wide Products at Disposal

Recommendation engines are data crunchers. They have complex algorithms that gather information on consumers behavior in digital retails by browsing history of customers. They highlight the best-suited and best-selling merchandise based on customer reviews and ratings. The right recommendation engine also aide retailers to send emails and keep the customers updated with the latest trends in the category of the purchased item. Thus, these engines create a long-term sustainable relationship with the customer.

#2. Concise Presentation of Products

Many retailers use recommendation engines for targeted marketing via email campaigns and website pages. Thus, they are capable of recommending several products from different categories. All these results are based on browsing history and have a higher likelihood of being bought when presented at the right time and in the right manner. These algorithms also browse through numerous merchandises listed in the retailer’s database, and present buyers a much narrow selection of items that they would likely purchase. Implementing artificial intelligence can save time and deliver a better user experience. This feature helps create a strong trust factor as customers know the retailer’s capabilities and how seriously they take this relationship.

#3. Customer Satisfaction

journey to intelligent automation

Recommendations engines make the journey to intelligent automation seamless for the retailers and much more enjoyable experience for the customers. In instances where the visitor left the site for some reason, the recommendation engines play a vital role in getting the attention of the customers back to the website. Features such as the availability of previous browsing data save time and energy of the visitor. It assists them to take the shopping activity further. The best recommendation engines make the whole process more engaging and increase the satisfaction rate of the visitors.

#4. Personalization

Machine learning and intelligent automation make recommendation engines act more like the customer’s friend or family. They are capable enough to give the right recommendations. As human nature, when shoppers feel indecisive about a purchase, they always look for a piece of advice from someone known to them. The trust factor comes from the fact that they know the buyer well and will give good recommendations. Product recommendation engines collect data to personalize offers and ensure that customers are happy with their purchase. Retailers can earn customers’ trust and loyalty by proving how well they understand them.

#5. Retain Happy Customers

AI recommendation engine in retail empowers retailers to present multiple relevant options to the customers that complement their requirements. It makes it easy for customers to avail loyalty points which in turn helps the retailer to retain customers and keep them engaged. Machine learning and data science technologies record, cleanse, normalize, and aggregate data which results in an extensive inventory of actionable recommendations for the customers.

AWS Neptune – The Graph Database Solution

Accelerating digital transformation in retail is Amazon Neptune. At the core of Amazon Neptune is a purpose-built, high-performance graph database engine. AWS Neptune is optimized for storing innumerable relationships and querying the graph with milliseconds latency. It makes it easy to build and run applications that work with highly connected datasets, as in the case of recommendation engines. Amazon Neptune stores relationships between information such as customer interests, friends, and purchase history in a graph and quickly queries it to make recommendations that are personalized and relevant. With AWS Neptune, retailers can use a highly available graph database to make product recommendations to a user. The recommendations are also based on merchandise purchased by others who have the same requirements and have similar purchase histories.

CONCLUSION

By going deeper into customers’ interests and preferences, product recommendation engines display more-relevant and predictive recommendations in today’s curt-throat retail digital transformation market. These tools are capable to access a broader range of merchandise to include niche items in shoppers’ recommendations.

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Impact of Digital Transformation on Back-end of Agile Retail Organization
Impact of Digital Transformation on Back-end of Agile Retail Organization Raju G

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Impact of Digital Transformation on Back-end of Agile Retail Organization

The most striking trend witnessed by the retail industry in recent times is the unprecedented rise in the number of start-ups with their disruptive and innovative business models. But have you ever wondered what decides their future in the ever-competitive retail ecosystem? It is their ability to react at that crucial point where their growth starts adversely affecting their agility. The faster they recognise the impact of digital transformation on agile retail, the smoother is their transition from a promising start-up to a mature enterprise.

Scale Vs Agility: Maintaining the Right Balance

Most retail start-ups begin their journey modestly. They operate as a small independent unit with flexible supply chain, an easy-to-manage inventory model and a customer-friendly front-end experience. Their size allows them to stay agile and increase their sales volume rapidly. But with rising sales, they reach a tipping point where they must measure their scale vis-à-vis their agility. At this stage, it becomes necessary for them to create a solid digital backbone and develop a back-end that has the strength to endure exponential growth while being nimble enough to respond faster to customer needs.

Staying Agile is Staying Alive

But why only the start-ups? If you are an established retailer digital transformation impacts you too. The challenges may be different, but the solution is similar. It is imperative for you to break the legacy of centralised operating system and implement a digital adoption strategy. A simpler and leaner approach designed around customer experience can certainly keep your business going.

Retail behemoths across the world are solving their technology problems to address customer pain points. They are undergoing end-to-end value chain transformation to become agile digital enterprises. Embracing agile approaches seem to be the only way out for them to accelerate efforts to innovate and stay aggressive.

A Perfect Digital Strategy: Flexibility Meets Stability

Whether you are a start-up or an established player – one thing is sure. You need to digitally integrate and support every element of your backend operation that includes planning, supply chain, logistics, finance and procurement to enjoy the benefit of digital transformation services. Choose a digital core that is standardised, scalable and open. It should be an ideal mix of flexibility and stability so that you can cater to your customer needs without compromising on innovation and continually improve your deliverables.

The Four Pillars of Agile Retail

The success of digital transformation largely depends on how efficiently you fortify the four pillars of agile retail. Make sure you:

  • Collaborate across functions by breaking down silos. Create an environment where all your back-end verticals work as a team.
  • Always take a customer-centric approach where the decisions are driven by data collected from customer trends.
  • Constantly respond to change and remain dynamic. There is no merit in following a rigid plan.
  • Invest in working software rather than wasting time on comprehensive documentation.

Digital Transformation: Simplifying Retail Operation

Every agile retail organisation relies on a back-end operation that is driven by technology. Automation at every stage enables intelligent decision-making and timely adjustments. This gives the retailers an edge by creating unique and differentiated customer proposition. It also helps them expand product lines, introduce new services and personalise customer experiences.

To get down to specifics, here is how digital transformation impacts retail and its agility.

  • Breaking the Chain of Traditional Supply

It is not difficult to measure digital transformation in the supply chain of retail business. The way Digital Supply Network (DSN) is helping retailers reduce the traditional barriers of time and space is incredible. DSN is bringing transparency in operation and offering them new revenue opportunities. Its unique characteristics like always-on-agility, connected community and intelligent optimization support businesses to make informed decisions.

  • Giving New Direction to Logistics

Proper use of digital adoption strategy in logistics can drastically change the dynamics of your retail business. E-commerce is offering a level playing ground for small retailers to compete with the giants. Big data is facilitating a holistic understanding of the exact location of stock items. Robotic stock picking is empowering workers to maximise space availability. Warehouse automation will continue to improve efficiency and is all set to become popular in the near future.

Internet of Things is enabling retail giants like Unilever and P&G to reduce inventories and lower delivery costs. Amazon is effectively automating delivery methods by using drone-based deliveries. Similarly, Chinese e-tailer LightInTheBox is directly delivering to customers across the globe using digitally enabled logistics services.

  • Adding Value to Finance Functions

Digital finance is bringing a paradigm shift in the finance ecosystem by utilising disruptive technology, innovation, data and people. Be it automating repetitive finance processes through Robotic Process Automation, implementing Natural Language Processing (NLG) for efficient financial planning and business reporting or introducing Blockchain technology to eliminate intermediaries – digital   transformation can make your finance transparent and efficient.

  • Enabling Seamless Procurement with Digital Insights

Digital adoption strategy is already showing results in procurement and vendor management. Digital procurement solutions are providing retailers with useful data and better insights to frame supplier strategies. As a result, you can automate your transactional procurement, predict your strategic sourcing and establish a proactive relationship with your suppliers. Blockchain-based solutions are streamlining processes and making real-time vendor payment possible. Retailers are partnering with brands to design virtual showrooms using Virtual Reality (VR).

  • Removing Order Gaps through Accurate Predictions

Digital transformation is bringing accuracy to assortment-mix and planning process. It can answer specific questions like What is the right merchandise to hold? Or What is the right time for a product launch? You can seamlessly forecast transactions and plan your product mix correctly.

Tesco has successfully used predictive analytics tools to forecast the seasonal demand for ice-creams and manage orders in each of its stores. RFID chips allow Zara to instantly replenish the stock in its showrooms.

CONCLUSION

The impact of Digital Transformation in retail is immense. It can enhance your product experience, optimize operation and maximize revenue. However, the best way to measure digital transformation is to check out the smiles on your customer’s face. Only a reliable partner can show you the way with the right technology solution.

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Retail Ecosystem – Collaboration in the Digital Age
Retail Ecosystem – Collaboration in the Digital Age Raju G

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Retail Ecosystem – Collaboration in the Digital Age

The retail ecosystem is an agile and ever-changing one where it follows the fickle-minded customer. A customer who is easily distracted by the trends and wants to live in the moment, desiring instant gratification.

While consumers today increasingly want to minimize the time taken in making purchase decisions, the retailers at the same time want to minimize the cost spent on supply-chain, logistics, and operations. Digital transformation helps to sustain retail businesses and adapt to this change by making collaborations between internal teams and the customers possible.

As a result we have teams that are making use of cloud solutions to be connected at all times. They share data between themselves, allowing the teams to analyze and react in real-time. Reports start becoming more relevant and precise.

Ability to collaborate with the customer also has never been so easy. The customers can now have a seamless and omni-channel experience, allowing them to always stay engaged with the brand. Similarly, brands can follow the behavioral changes that their customers are going through and adapt accordingly.  

Retail Ecosystem – Leveraging the Power of Process Automation

As digital transformation in retail disrupts the industry, it is also providing a level playing field for all by creating ecosystems. Retail ecosystems redefine consumer expectations and reshape retail value chains. An ecosystem is the art of clubbing various consumer services in a single platform or app. It can offer varied services such as e-commerce, chat, streaming, gaming, booking services, or payments, and has the potential to attract a huge customer base. This, in turn, becomes an attractive database for retailers to analyze critical consumer data in a competitive market.

However, the success of the ecosystem is not merely its catalogue of services and the efficiencies of scale that it offers. An ecosystem needs to appropriately leverage the power of automation. RPA in retail sector, as part of an ecosystem gives the retailers access to customer data analytics, extensive logistics networks and cloud services. It provides the capacity to launch new services and in new geographies.

Sales Automation

Multiple studies done with CPG companies have shown that almost 1/3rd of the sales processes can be automated. Most of the tasks performed by a sales executive are repetitive and can be freed up to meet with clients and market products. An efficient ecosystem can automate some of the processes like auto-assign visits based on priority, assign/re-assign optimized routes based on real-time traffic feedback, cancel visits to locations where orders can be auto-fulfilled, etc.  This leads to focused visits and better outcomes.

Similarly, advanced devices integrated with the ecosystem can capture and process images using artificial intelligence and minimize the need for retail and CPG sales executives to manually walk the aisles checking for brand trade promotion compliances. Furthermore, these can be done remotely, thereby freeing up the executive to discuss products and potential new clients.

Marketing Automation

The amount of data generated by the sales team is huge and is almost impossible to be analyzed and curated manually. This data processing and analysis when done in real-time allows marketing teams to personalize and curate campaigns that resonate with the mood of the customer. Automated analyses also provide a view on the efficacy of the marketing campaigns by using historical trends and capturing the pulse from the social channels in real-time.

Forecasting Automation

An extremely critical activity for manufacturers is their ability to forecast the demand to plan their production lines. The effectiveness depends on their ability to rightly categorize their products and consequently order, pre-order the parts/ products with their vendors. This is an area where automation is key and can help achieve very high accuracy when backed by a robust retail ecosystem.

Back Office Automation

Some of the easiest and quickest areas of automation which many retailers have already adopted are the back-office operations. Retail ecosystems that have effectively integrated robotic process automation can have streamlined processes for a variety of tasks. Managing orders from different sources and processing their invoices with accuracy and speed is one example. Similarly, exception handling in cases of errors, notifying vendors and reprocessing their orders can also be handled by process automation.

Contact Center Automation

Many digitally mature retailers have introduced automation in customer engagement while ensuring the human touch. Most of the interactions at the contact center are repetitive and can be handled by a bot powered by artificial intelligence. They are now adept to process text or audio as you write and speak and provide resolutions. This has greatly improved the speed at which queries are resolved, and if there are subsequent tasks to be performed, they are getting automatically assigned to the right teams. The contact centers are now becoming more efficient at processing and analyzing data they receive and can focus on understanding their customers better.

Before retailers invest in digital transformation or put together retail ecosystems, they will do well to engage digital transformation advisory services that they can trust. Such an advisory service will help them implement a digital strategy that encompasses the entire organization and not just a point-in-time initiative.

CONCLUSION

Change is the only constant and is at the core of retailers’ success strategy. A cultural shift is required for retailers to embrace agility and be in relentless pursuit to serve unmet customer needs.

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7 Myths of Cloud Computing
7 Myths of Cloud Computing Raju G

7 Myths of Cloud Computing

The usage of cloud technology is increasing and so are the cloud computing myths. When first introduced, misconceptions about new technologies are common and cloud computing is no different. Although being cautious and approaching emerging technologies with some skepticism may not be very wrong, it is vital to separate the myth from reality. Most of the cloud computing discussions are filled with misinformation leaving doubts about the functioning and benefits of cloud computing.

Being fully aware of the advantages and issues to look out for of the cloud-based model puts a company in a better position to reap in the benefits of cloud computing.

Top 7 Cloud Computing Myths

Cloud Computing is a Costly Affair

Moving to the cloud may not initially save money. However, in the long run it is designed to reduce the overall IT spend. The cost incurred to move operations to the cloud depends on factors such as the amount of data to be stored, the number of users availing the service, and the scale  of enterprise application support and backup needed. The good thing is, cloud providers build the cost of security and maintenance into their service.

Where do you save?

Most cloud providers use a subscription model. Firms pay only for what they use. The cloud is capable to scale to the needs of the business quickly. Companies do not have to spend on servers that they require at a later stage. As usage decreases, so does the cost of cloud computing. Firms do not need staff for on-premises hardware updates and maintenance. Thus, the total cost of ownership reduces.

You Lose Control over Your Data on Cloud

If there is anything you lose control of, it is not of your data but of the liability of maintaining a physical server. After cloud migration, you will not be required to swap hard drives or install extra RAM as your business scales. Control of the data is still with the business as they regulate who and how users access the data and how efficiently the data can be used in work processes.

Chances of Cyber Attack Increases in Cloud Computing

Is cloud computing secure or not? Is this one of your worries? Like any other technology, cloud computing is vulnerable to cyber threats, data breaches, and DDoS attacks. However, businesses should be assured of their data privacy. Cloud providers have security measures such as encryption and sophisticated firewalls in place to fend off most attacks. Managed services provider will encrypt all data, both in transit and rest. Furthermore, they connect to the cloud via dedicated private lines, instead of the public internet thus strengthening the security aspect. Thus, when in the cloud, firms and their cloud provider share the security responsibility by following the best cyber security practices at their respective ends.

Migration to Cloud is Quick and Easy

Migration to cloud is relatively straight forward. However, moving to the clouds without the right groundwork, blueprint, and cloud strategy is risky. It is important to build a cloud-ready foundation before the actual migration. The best cloud transition strategy includes descriptions of guiding principles, required skills, organizational changes needed, oversight responsibilities, and the technology architecture that facilitates efficient transition and successful operation.

Cloud Migration is All About Unaffected IT Infrastructure and Minimal Impact

Cloud computing is almost like a major platform shift. It changes application capabilities with respect to agility, functionality, scalability, and cost. Failing to commit to cloud computing risks maintaining outmoded IT practices, placing the enterprise at a competitive disadvantage. The impact of cloud computing on retail business is immense. Retailers who lag behind in adopting cloud technology fail to compete with faster productivity and competitive pricing of their rivals who are powered by cloud computing. As a result, most are out of the business shortly after.

Cloud Computing is an Answer to All Business Processes

One of the most pervasive myths of cloud computing is that it is the way ahead for all processes of a business. On the contrary, unless there are cost savings on the agenda, moving a legacy application that doesn’t change much doesn’t need migration to a cloud-based model. Cloud computing fits best where there is a need for flexibility and the business has the ability to pay for only what is needed and when. Worth noting, every business can benefit from the public cloud, but most businesses need a hybrid combination of public, private, and dedicated infrastructure.

Moving to Cloud is End of the Road

Cloud is an operating model and technology. Therefore, to achieve success with the cloud, conglomerates have to understand the importance of managed IT infrastructure and adapt their operating process to fully leverage cloud ideologies. Companies can go for different approaches of cloud computing. They can opt for re-hosting often via infrastructure as a service or get a complete changeover to an application implemented by a Software as a Service provider. Whatever path is undertaken, it is essential to understand the model and have realistic expectations.

What else you need in your plan?

Once the migration has been successfully obtained, the work has just begun. Ongoing cost and performance management has to be considered. Firms must include post-migration actions in their cloud implementation plan.

Once you decide that cloud computing is the way ahead for the firm’s further growth, research on the do’s and don’ts. Determine what type of cloud service is best for your company and go for a reputed company known for the best cyber practices that will serve you what you need.

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6 Key Benefits of Cloud Computing in Retail
6 Key Benefits of Cloud Computing in Retail Raju G

How Can Digital Assurance Support New and Upcoming Digital Strategies

Cloud computing in retail provides retailers with a competitive edge over their eCommerce rivals by allowing them to have greater agility. The legacy systems used by offline retailers come with baggage that includes difficulty in integrating them with modern-day technologies and a costly affair to run the same. With cloud computing, retailers no longer have to worry about their legacy in-house systems.

One cannot deny the fact that retail as a service is expanding beyond traditional ERP, CRM, and supply chain management (SCM). In the cut-throat competition of today, the importance of managed IT infrastructure has never been more acutely felt. It is the driving force that can change the fate of the age-old retail industry and help them adapt to an ever-changing market. Brick-and-mortar retailers can benefit from various tools on offer to communicate better and faster with employees from other departments and locations. Effective collaboration between teams can result in streamlined business management by reducing miscommunication.

Where Does Cloud Computing Fit in Retail?

To stay ahead of their competitors, cloud retail analytics and social media can be used to identify customer preferences and behaviors to offer personalized shopping experiences. Effective use of big data requires handling and managing massive troves of structured and unstructured data. It also needs significant computing power and storage. To handle all this, the best option is cloud-based solutions as they come with on-demand storage and powerful computation and analytical capabilities.

Advantages of Cloud Computing in Retail

  • Streamlined Operations

Many offline retailers operate in a disjointed manner as they still depend on outdated legacy systems. This arrangement prevents them from efficiently integrating varied business operations such as inventory, shipping, development, and POS. If retailers move to cloud computing, they are capable of delivering seamless customer experience as per consumer demands. The impact of cloud computing on retail business means all departments and locations have real-time updates on the inventory, shipment, and other aspects of the business at their disposal. Since POS systems are moving from cash and cards to smartphones and tablets, retailers can implement cloud technology for a smooth transaction process and better customer experience.

  • Customized Shopping Experience

A big question that arises is can cloud computing manage inventory and shipping? Cloud computing empowers stores to instantly refer to the buying history of a particular customer, and check on the status of orders irrespective of when and where the order was placed. It gives retailers real-time access to all the data related to customers and their orders. This allows retailers to offer personalized recommendations, special membership offers, coupon codes, and other promotions and deals that add to the loyalty factor. Cloud technology can also help greet customers with a welcome message or deals of the day messages as soon as they walk in the store.

  • Cost-Effective Existence

The retail industry is one of the most rapidly evolving sectors. To cater to the fast-changing business demands, retailers need technology that must eliminate time spent on planning, procurement, budget approval for capital expenditure, development, and other operational aspects.  This is where cloud computing in retail comes in with a massive advantage over on-premises computing.

In cloud technology, retailers pay for what they use. They pocket in big savings on operational expenditure budget as they do not have to worry about hardware, software, and connectivity; even the system updates are taken care by the managed services provider. This aspect also cuts down on hiring employees to take care of the IT needs.

  • Scalability Advantage

All retailers experience peaks and troughs in business. Most often, businesses depend on promotions, time of the year, and even the weather. Thus, IT systems should be able to effectively handle the changing scenario. A cloud-based model enables retailers to contract the level of resources required for their actual usage and rapidly scale them up, when needed, in a more cost-effective way. Cloud computing in retail offers scalability at times of peak demand. Its cost flexibility is powered by the varied pricing option that depends on the increase or decrease of computing usage as per the requirement.

  • Better Supply Chain Visibility

SCM is one of the most critical business processes in the retail industry. A slip in any one of the processes can lead to irreparable damage. This is the time when retailers can look at cloud-based models. It connects every part of the business and thus provides better visibility into the supply chain and enterprise application support system.  It results in fewer stock-outs, optimized inventory levels, and enables retailers to capture real-time location data on inventory and compare their stock with that of other locations. Using cloud computing, retailers can assess each individual element of the supply chain, from order status to product marketing. Cloud technology can automatically record relevant data that retailers can then use to make changes to their business processes.

  • A Catalyst to Create New Products

Data analytics capabilities delivered by cloud computing in retail allow retailers to develop new products based on customer feedback. Retailers can use this technology to compile information from online sources such as other retailers and social media platforms to create fresh products for their customers. With all the relevant inputs, retailers get better equipped to judge what the current fashion trends are and which ones are set to become popular.

It is difficult to predict where the retail industry is heading towards in the coming years. The nature of the industry is all about changing customer buying habits. However, cloud migration can adapt to the changing ways easily while retailers find new ways to communicate with their customers and run the business.

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How Can Retail Bounce back with the Implementation of Digital Transformation
How Can Retail Bounce back with the Implementation of Digital Transformation Raju G

How Can Retail Bounce back with the Implementation of Digital Transformation

The road to recovery for the retail industry in the post-COVID world will significantly accelerate digital transformation and will eventually increase demand in the digital assurance market. The speed at which the retailers adapt to the changing situation and the flexibility of their approach will be crucial in deciding the future of retailing.

Changing Consumer Behavior in the Age of COVID- 19

Earlier, the retailers used to measure digital transformation with respect to its capability to address customer’s expectations. But the virus has left a lasting impression on the consumer behavior in digital retail. Today, as per a study by Ernst and Young, one out of three1 customers have strongly agreed that they will re-evaluate their expectations and no longer take certain things for granted. Similarly, a study by Prosper Insights & Analytics suggests that 95% of them expect companies to implement physical protection and distancing measures while 30% of them plan to shop more online in the future. The changing consumer behavior has forced retailers to rethink their model digitally and solve the post-COVID consumer sentiments related to health and safety.

Unlocking the Challenges with Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can bridge the gap between retailers and consumers created by the disease. It can help retailers to unlock challenges and win back the trust of their customers. Retailers need to shift from their old model of “profit, people, planet” to a more responsible model of “planet, people, profit”. Retailers must also improve the quality assurance practices of their business to tackle the complexities of the market. They have to leverage the efficacy of the digital assurance market to ensure smooth functioning of the different parts of the digital ecosystem.

Here are some ways in which retailers can bounce back while implementing digital transformation:
  • Getting Ready for The New Normal

Life will not be the same again for retailers as we emerge from the impact of this pandemic. Digital transformation trends in retail predict that even when the disease is gone, people will become hypersensitive about getting sick from daily activities which were once considered safe. Sharing a table in a restaurant, trying out a new outfit in a trial room, swiping a credit card in a showroom may not be a part of the new normal. Digitalization can create a new ecosystem for retail enterprises that multiply the joy of shopping by eliminating the fears from the minds of consumers.

  • Measuring Digital Transformation to Ensure Success

To ensure that their transformation journey is on the right track, retail companies should measure digital transformation in four key areas – fulfilment and last-mile execution, transparency, workforce management, and pricing. Simple efforts like improving presence by establishing digital channels, investing in data, integrating pandemic outbreak models with supply chain, and enabling staff to run the store from home can prove to be beneficial. They must also invest in digital assurance practices available in the market to retain their core competency while developing new technologies.

  • Expanding Digital Footprint to Increase Customer Footfall

As more and more people choose online shopping, retailers need to expand their digital presence. A coherent digital engine can drive customer interaction and engagement. Retailers need to translate sales by offering customers a convenient shopping experience on digital platforms. They should take advantage of digital ubiquity in retail to promote innovation and empower customer acquisition.

  • Automating for a Safer Shopping Experience

While the new standards of safety will require retailers to introduce automation in operation and sales, they need to replace people with technology wherever possible. From automated store access systems to safer touchscreens and POS – retailers need to judiciously apply automation to make the customer comfortable in their store.

  • Thinking Hyper-local

With people less likely to travel further, local stores will be the first choice for customers. A recent report by McKinsey shows that local convenience stores in China have performed well at the beginning of the pandemic, just as they did at the peak of it. Retailers must realize that in a post-COVID world, it will be very important for them to make their offering hyper-local. Digital technologies can be useful in bringing about this change faster and smoother. Walmart-owned Flipkart has recently partnered with brick and mortar store Spencer’s to boost its last-mile delivery network.

  • Collaborating to Grow

Technological enhancement can now add to the ROI of retail even faster than before. Partnership with competent technology partners will play a pivotal role in ensuring a turnaround for retailers. The technology-led projects must be prioritized by companies to undo the consequence of the pandemic and get ahead in business. The effectiveness of this collaboration will be an important measure of digital transformation.

  • Delivering Customer Convenience

Deloitte’s 2020 Retail Industry Outlook suggests that consumers are now more willing to pay a premium for convenience and shipping speed. It is important for retail brands to augment digital infrastructure to arrive at the perfect mix of speed, convenience and cost. Retailers need to learn from Amazon which has been successfully using this formula to be the market leader.

  • Streamlining Supply Chain

The pandemic has brought the vulnerabilities of the supply network systems to the forefront. Many retailers have failed to meet their customer demand for their products due to lack of data. Digital transformation helps to sustain retail business by providing valuable insights about the supply chain and letting retailers predict the future demand accurately. Automating processes in the supply chain can increase efficiency and reduce cost, thereby saving crucial time & money for innovation in these testing times.

Conclusion

COVID-19 is one of the biggest survival challenges faced by the retail industry. digital transformation in retail can be the perfect remedy to overcome the challenge. Increased dependence on digital assurance market, improved tools to measure digital transformation and pragmatic steps to implement technology can all help the retail industry to bounce back from this unprecedented crisis. You need to have a bold vision and a solid digital strategy to get going.

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InfoVision is a Global IT Services and Solutions company offering Strategic Resources, Enterprise Applications and Technology Solutions. InfoVision’s specialized Technology Solution offerings include Mobility, Outsourced Product Development, Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics, DevOps, IoT, Testing Services and Cloud Services. InfoVision’s Integrated Value Delivery capability is the combination of proven talent, technical depth, delivery discipline and domain expertise.

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How Can Digital Assurance Support New and Upcoming Digital Strategies
How Can Digital Assurance Support New and Upcoming Digital Strategies Raju G

How Can Digital Assurance Support New and Upcoming Digital Strategies

Digital assurance is a necessary parameter to consider when adopting digital technologies to transform your business. It goes beyond quality assurance practices and ensures smooth interactions between various components of the digital ecosystem. The benefits of digital assurance practices show up in the form of resilience of the product, enhanced customer satisfaction and better brand equity.

Adopting digital technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT) , Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing in retail can be truly successful when supported by digital assurance practices.

Digital Assurance Drives Quality

 

Digital assurance is an all-encompassing strategy for ensuring that the adopted digital technologies of an organization are relevant to them and will continue to garner a higher return on investment (ROI) over a period of time.

With digital transformation programs, organizations are confronted with multiple quality concerns across different technical areas such as mobile solutions, omnichannel solutions, big data and analytics solutions and so on. In all of this, the foremost thing a customer seeks in a product or service is quality. User experience and security are extremely important and will always need extra attention.

 Digital transformation brings with it a multitude of challenges in various aspects like network capability, performance, interoperability and security.  Consequently, digital assurance and testing become imperative for the success of any technology adoption.  Finally, robust digital testing services help the business to derive the best outcome from their IT architecture consistently.

Importance of Digital Assurance for Business Growth

 

Consumer behavior in digital retail is setting the pace and direction in the evolution of the retail industry. Every organization today understands that they need to have a robust plan in order to provide the customer with a flawless experience. This is achieved through digital assurance and testing which helps in the following ways:

  • Mitigates digital risk and builds resilience

Several inherent risks might arise during implementation of new digital strategies. These risks may include malware, data theft, workflow failures or even faulty integration. Having a strong digital assurance service is the key to addressing these issues.

  • Validates products from customer’s perspective

When accelerating digital transformation in retail certain rudimentary testing protocols maybe overlooked thereby missing some of the inherent flaws. Such oversight can be a setback to an otherwise delightful customer experience. Digital assurance ensures viewing the product from the customer’s perspective to catch flaws that would be missed otherwise.

  • Builds Brand Value

Digital assurance helps companies to set up and maintain a culture which spells of quality products and services. A sound digital assurance set up identifies and eliminates any bugs and glitches in the developmental stage itself.

  • Customer Retention

The digital transformation trends in retail are growing in leaps and bounds today. As a result competition in the digital world is brutal and customers have a myriad of options. Dissatisfaction with a product or service can lead to a customer shifting loyalty to rival brands. System crashes, latency, and virus attacks will work as deterrents to customer retention. Digital assurance serves to eliminate these glitches completely.

  • Drives Compatibility

Digital transformation in retail and other industries and must offer a uniform and seamless experience to customers across all platforms. So whether it is a smartphone or a laptop or a desktop computer or a tablet, the features and functionality of the software application should be the same. It is only through digital assurance while adopting digital technologies, that such compatibility can be achieved.

Cognitive Computing in Retail with Digital Assurance – Looking Ahead

Thanks to digital ubiquity in retail, the retail landscape is more complex and competitive today. Providing an omnichannel strategy for customers today has become the most basic capability for retailers. Companies desirous of  gaining a winning edge over their competitors can leverage the power of cognitive insight to offer a more personalized customer experience. There is now a bigger shift underway that is being driven by cognitive technologies such as Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and cognitive AI. Cognitive computing systems use AI and the powerful combination of enterprise data as well as data in the cloud to mine knowledge. They help to mimic brain functions such as learning, reasoning, recognition, language processing and other cognitive functions.  Their role in digital transformation is that they can be integrated with other technologies.

Conclusion

All the new and upcoming digital technologies are generating a huge amount of data. While data gives insight into the customer’s needs and wants, sound digital assurance practices empower them to use it across systems to impart great user experience.

The software enabled processes that drive the retail industry today need comprehensive testing and quality assurance to guarantee the desired results, of a flawless experience for the customer.

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InfoVision is a Global IT Services and Solutions company offering Strategic Resources, Enterprise Applications and Technology Solutions. InfoVision’s specialized Technology Solution offerings include Mobility, Outsourced Product Development, Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics, DevOps, IoT, Testing Services and Cloud Services. InfoVision’s Integrated Value Delivery capability is the combination of proven talent, technical depth, delivery discipline and domain expertise.

2020 © Copyright InfoVision. All rights Reserved.

How blockchain technology can empower IoT
How blockchain technology can empower IoT Raju G

How blockchain technology can empower IoT

Block chain technology has the capability to revolutionize the working procedures of different kinds of devices, internet connectivity etc. In this volatile world the technologies are constantly progressing,

With the pace the society is evolving, it’s important to discuss the usuage of blockchain in connectivity and internet of things. The interaction within these smart gadgets among themselves and with the web can be established through blockchain technology. Different ledger technology permits certain index of interactions between the smart gadgets and the web. This is an efficient way by which it can keep track of all the devices interact among themselves and with the internet, and also the history of the processes that had been done through each interaction.

Blockchain and IoT

Blockchain technology resolves many issues when it comes to processing contractual behavior between peers without involving any third party to verify the IoT transaction. There are few major blockers comprises scalability, risk of any particular point failure, time stamping, and securing transactions. In this situation blockchain technology comes into the main picture, and easily solves the issues in a faster pace. Blockchain technology can be implemented to design a simple infrastructure for two devices to directly interconnect and transfer crucial information like money or data — between one another.

This property helps the autonomous functioning of smart gadgets without the involvement of any authentic centralized authority, which is what usually happens when blockchain is being implemented to system.In case of peer-to-peer transaction to human-to-human or human-to-objects, it results with a fully issued dependable digital infrastructure capable of connecting, transacting, and interacting with each other.

IoT devices can retain smart contracts to communicate among each other and connect to the web. This way, there’s no requirement for a centralized authority to validate each relationship or transaction between the two parties.

Applications in coming days

In near future blockchain can be used to improve and increase the stability of connection between IoT devices, some other use cases which could be investigate in the future. The first major use case of implementing blockchain into IoT devices is security. Security issues have been affecting the working of both the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries, since hackers usually search for gaps within a company’s infrastructure.

In addition, the current growth of data science has led to the involvement of IoT based on Blockchain devices in the analysis of the data which are received. There are lot of companies who are completely based on data. And they are finding ways to make it transparent and use it for immediate purposes.

In big MNCs IoT and Blockchain can be used to strengthening the security of the infrastructure. Also, they can be implement to extract followed by analysis of data.

Conclusion

Currently, having a good internet access and smooth connectivity is very crucial for business world, a person with a device like a tab or smart phone or laptop is able to access internet, but recent technological advancement expanded even more, and here the internet of things comes into picture. Blockchain can be implemented to gain more effectiveness and productivity of digital foundation, hence it increase internet connectivity between devices without eliminating the fundamental features like scalability, security or accessibility.

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Digital Transformation of Retail Industry
Digital Transformation of Retail Industry Raju G

Digital Transformation In Retail Industry

Where Should You Focus Your Energies?

Every time people talk about digital transformation, they refer to brands like Uber or Netflix. In fact, the term uberization is often used as a synonym for digital transformation. Both these brands have redefined their respective markets and made the traditional business models irrelevant. However, we need to remember that the industry vertical for these brands is different and so is their audience. What worked for them may not work for retail brands.

Retail industry has its own challenges and operating model which need to be taken into consideration.

So, what does digital transformation mean for retail industry?

Digital Transformation In Retail Industry 


Traditionally, the retail industry has focused on product. This is where digital transformation is making fundamental level changes. The focus is now shifting to customers and their experience. So much so that experience has emerged as a major differentiator in retail success. 


What makes retail industry different from the others is the fact that there is a transfer of ownership and possession of goods. This unique characteristic of the industry gives a whole another demeanor to its digital transformation. 


So where does the real transformation happen in retail industry? What kind of solutions business leaders should explore? 

We believe that the 5 key areas that can be redefined by retail digital transformation are: 

  • Inventory Management 

  • Supply Chain 

  • Customer Experience 

  • Product Development 

  • Store Designs 


Let’s look at how each of these can be redefined. 

 

Inventory Management 

For any retail brand, the out-of-stock scenario is probably the most embarrassing one. It is almost like telling a customer that you won’t be selling them what they want. But why do these happen? Inefficient Inventory management can be a reason for that. Digital transformation can help you rehash your entire inventory management system in place to make it more transparent and efficient. 


We have developed and deployed a cloudbased inventory management solution for a leading retail brand to help them manage their stocks. The solution allowed them to track the movement of products from their warehouse to the store locations. We added analytical capabilities to the inventory management solution to generate insights like average shelf time of products. This helped our client identify the fast-moving products and even predict the out-of-stock scenario and avoid it completely. 


The solution enabled our client to optimize the procurement of their products which in turn reduced their warehousing and storage costs. 


Adding AI capabilities to inventory management can also be a smart move. AI powered devices can be attached to the shopping carts. So, when customers move around the aisles the devices can read the product quantity on the shelf and alert the store managers for refilling. 


This way you don’t need to invest the more expensive human resources to do the mundane task of counting shelf quantities. Instead you can realign them to other more critical activities. 


A good inventory management in the backend will in turn impact the shopping experience of the customers. 

 

Supply Chain 

There are some brands that are hailed for their ability to deliver the same quality of product across all its store locations. Whether it is the crunch of their fries or the feel of their fabric, the quality remains consistent at global level. Their supply chains deserve the credit for this. 


But if you ought to take it a step further, you can transform this supply chain and make it more transparent for the customers! 


We have developed a supply chain transformation solution that lets the customers track the product from the start of its life to the shelf on the aisle. They can see where the product was produced, stored, and how it got to the shelf in front of them. This particularly works with the convenience store where customers are looking for fresh and organic produce. The farm-to-shelf tracking helps the brand earn customers’ trust and ensure that the best quality is served to them. 


A transparent supply chain comes with obvious benefits. But what you also need in the backend is the upgraded infrastructure and redesigned processes. You just cannot mount transformative supply chain solutions over legacy architectures. You will also have to reengineer the backend processes to make sure you optimize the product movement and generate better ROI from the investments made in supply chain transformation. 

 

Customer Experience 

This is probably one of the most significant aspects of retail digital transformation – something that gives many business leaders sleepless nights. Why? Because it deals with the most dynamic and yet most valuable asset of the business. 


We have seen businesses close shop just because they were not able to keep up with the changing expectations of their customers. Now the expectations are not only limited to products but have extended to experience as well. 


Does it sound daunting? Wait, there is more! 


Customers don’t only expect a good experience at each transaction, but expect a consistent experience across all possible touchpoints. When they buy from you, they buy from the brand and not from the store. So, you cannot maintain a customer view that is fractured between departments and store locations. 


The omni-channel customer experience solutions are helping brands address these broken customer journeys and create a single view across all touchpoints. You can also allow your customers to combine their online shopping experience with in store one. They can check a product in the app and then make a purchase from the nearest store location. 


And while we are talking about improving customer experience, how can we not mention gamification! We developed a solution for a major retail brand to engage their customers in a game that introduced a promoted their products and also encouraged purchase. So, while it kept the customers engaged with the brand, it also boosted their sales! 


Some of the most exciting solutions are coming up in the space of store check-out process. These AI based solutions are allowing customers to shop without having to go through the lengthy and extremely frustrating check-out lines. 


It’s almost like the customers are shoplifting except they are not! The bill preparation and payment happen digitally using cloud and mobile technologies. These solutions are giving a welcome relief to customers by eliminating the check-out lines – one of the most notorious killers of in-store experience. 

 

Product Development 

One of the most intriguing aspect of retail is to understand which products would be liked by the customers and which would fail. You don’t want to invest a lot of time and efforts in products which are not relevant for your customers. 


There are solutions that help you understand the preferences of your customers and their unmet needs. They give you valuable insights on what your customers buy, when they buy, what triggers that purchase behavior, and what is their opinion about the product. They can help you identify the unmet needs of your target customers so that you can focus your energies on creating products for that particular niche. 


You can also seek out solutions that recommend what products should be offered to which customers on a proactive basis. 

 

Store Designs 

Store layouts are a more recent area of focus for digital transformation experts. So far, the transformation efforts were focused on digital brand experience. But now the attention has also moved to the store designs and how they contribute to the customer’s shopping experience. 


We have developed solutions that help our clients understand the aisle navigation behavior of the customers in store. The solutions study how customers move from one aisle to another and recommend design and aisle placement changes accordingly. 


There are also solutions available that help brands understand which products need to be on what shelf and in which aisle. This way brands can make store shopping effortless. 

 

Conclusion 

Today, it’s the not the size and scale of the business that matters. What really determines your growth is your ability to self-disrupt and reinvent. If you are not transforming today, you are possibly pushing yourself towards existential crisis. This calls for a calm deliberation and not a panic reaction. 


So rather than looking for any digital transformation company, look for a partner that understands the nuances of your industry and how it operates. Only somebody who understands retail industry will be able to help you transform in a seamless and uninterrupted manner. 


To explore digital transformation solutions for retail industry, contact our team and we would be happy to engage with you. 

Digital Transformation KPIs
Digital Transformation KPIs Raju G

Digital Transformation KPIs

How To Measure the Success of Digital Transformation Efforts?

By now we know that digital transformation (DX) is not only challenging but also changing many of our conventional views. In one of our earlier articles on DX investments, we saw how traditional ROI calculations do not apply to DX investments. One needs to adopt a different kind of evaluation formula for it.

Similarly, we cannot use the traditional KPIs to evaluate the efficacy and performance of digital transformation efforts. In fact, the traditional KPI measures will give you a single dimensional view of the impact of the DX efforts. Moreover, digital transformation creates cross functional impact which cannot be measured by the traditional KPI measures.

So, what to do?

We always tell business leaders to put on their thinking caps when it comes to digital transformation. They will have to broaden their approach and understanding of DX to measure its success. In a nutshell, they will have to design custom metrics to measure DX success.

Custom Digital Transformation KPIs

Just like everything else, digital transformation requires you to think differently when it comes to performance and success.
When we are assisting business leaders through their DX journeys, we always tell them to think of impact and not just output. The three major areas where you will notice the DX impact are:
1. Operations
2. Customer experience
3. Finance
Let’s see how DX impacts each one of them.

Digital Transformation & Operations

One of the core objectives of digital transformation is to change the way enterprises do business. It aims to disrupt traditional business models and processes to make way for a new way of existence. This means it impacts the operations of the business. So, what you can measure is the operational improvement.

Many enterprises are embracing the concept of continuous improvement. This improvement gets reflected in the quality of operations and their efficiency.

So ideally the metrics that you can track in such cases are the time taken to complete the process, number of errors, resources required to finish one process, points intervention in each process, etc. You can also track how each process utilizes resources available and optimizes them.

When you start seeing an improvement in these metrics you can say that your digital transformation efforts are paying off.

Digital Transformation & Customer Experience

Many CMOs believe that some of the most popular marketing metrics are feel-good metrics. They make you feel good but fail to give you an understanding of how healthy the business is.

We have already seen the paradox that digital transformation creates by pushing customers away from the enterprise. It is changing the fabric of customer relationships. So, the traditional metrics of customer retention or acquisition do not suffice.

We help business leaders develop metrics that track the experience of the customers as they navigate through the complex ecosystem of modern-day business. Each touchpoint is evaluated for its importance and use and points are assigned accordingly.

We also design metrics that help marketing teams showcase their impact across the different stages of a customer’s lifecycle and not just the top of the funnel. Since DX rehashes the customer lifecycle altogether, using custom metrics make more sense for marketing teams.

We know that omni channel plays a big role in digital transformation. In such scenarios, we feel that metrics like number of calls or average call time of a customer are again unidimensional metrics. Instead what you should be considering are aspects like reason for seeking human interaction, type of inquiry, etc. But you should also remember that these metrics will mean different things in context of your industry. For telecom industry, increase in call center calls will mean more complaints but the same increase may mean possible sales opportunities in insurance industry.

So, you need to use custom metrics that are contextual to your business.

Financial Implications of Digital Transformation

Like every other initiative, digital transformation also impacts the bottom line of the business. But using traditional ROI measures does not work here. Similarly, you cannot use profit numbers as a measure of DX success.

Instead what we advise business leaders is to use tailor-made metrics that track the financial implications on an incremental basis. These metrics will also consider the change in business model if any, the change in infrastructure, etc.

Sometimes, it is better to calculate the value and not just ROI from DX investments. Then there are times when popular metrics of recurring revenues, profit margin, cost of customer acquisition and retention, etc. can be used.

Financial metrics will change based on your strategy and approach of digital transformation.

To know what type of KPIs and custom metrics you should use to measure your DX success, you can talk to our digital transformation consultants. We will analyze your strategy, objective, approach, efforts, and then recommend what metrics will give you a realistic view of your DX success.

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