How Digital Transformation Helps to Sustain Retail Business

Digital transformation in the retail business has become the mantra to get ahead of competition and reap success. Retail is in transition and today’s market condition combined with a strong economic outlook advocates for retailers to embrace innovation and reevaluate traditional business models. Thanks to digital transformations, retailers are leveraging innovative technology to enhance their customer’s experience.

Uber, Airbnb, Skype and Alibaba are some of the best examples of retail disrupters who have paved the way for new digital business models by adopting digital transformation. With the advancement in technology, availability of real time data and analytics, the retail industry will have to transform in order to satisfy customer requirements which are evolving. Many retailers are slow to accept that the way they do business needs to change. It is time they understand that customers will not change for them. It is they who need to transform themselves for the sake of the customer. Their failure to change will earn them the tag of being boring and irrelevant which can be the death knell for any retail business. What is Digital Transformation Digital transformation refers to using digital technologies to creating new or modifying existing business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. Customer- The Centre of the Retail Universe All the above derives meaning only when the customer becomes the focus of such efforts. It is important that product centricity becomes customer centricity. Digital transformation in retail business becomes a successful customer centric culture when
  • Strong branding turns customers into brand ambassadors
  • Associates transform as the face of the organization in order to pass on the passion of the business drive to the customer
  • Seamless bricks and clicks which present the customer with a unified shopping experience
  • Uniform experience from the start of the shopping journey till the time the purchase is complete in a manner with minimal human intervention
  • Covert intelligent loss prevention wherein loss prevention evolves to support brand engagement through emerging digital technologies.
Immersive Experiences in Retail Industry The new generation of consumers are seeking fresh exciting experiences and are demanding new ways to interact with brands particularly through digital innovations. Retailers interpret these by creating more open and interactive spaces with experiential stores as well as investing more in new high tech integrations such as
  • Smart mirrors
  • Restaurants blending food and interactivity
  • Omni channel sales platform
  • Chatbots
  • Data driven personalization of products
  • Augmented and virtual reality.
The Digital Transformation Journey in Retail Digital transformation for retail business must include end to end transformation in order to stay relevant. These retail transformations are not a one off procedure but something that is fluid and evolving constantly. A successful transformation journey has 3 phases  Funding the digital transformation journey The need to establish credibility for the leadership team and generate momentum for the larger effort. Examples would be reduced costs and raised revenues
  • Winning in the medium term
This stage comprises of improving the product, pricing and performance Enhancement via digital transformation initiatives. This will boost sales and expand margin
  • Building the right team, organization and culture
The top management should be fully involved and believe in the transformation by communicating the overall vision, modelling the right behavior and holding themselves accountable. Leveraging Technology for Digital Transformation Organizations, no matter what sector, must identify a problem and use technology to resolve the issue favorably.  Today there are several new technologies that can add the much needed personalization that retailers are striving for.   A few examples could include
  • Deep learning to augment available product data
  • Data driven personalization
  • Augmented reality to help customers try before they buy
  • Smart shelves and floors
  • Voice based search.
Practices to Sustain Retail Business Brand Strategy Corporations like people have a hard time admitting that they can improve. In the current scenario constant disruption of the retail industry has become the new norm. Brands should start taking a longer and harder look at their branding strategies in order to remain in the race. Organizations need to be strategically flexible and innovative like startups to match the growing demands of the modern day customer.
  • Take the Leap
Many brands are able to recognize the areas that need transformation but are unable to follow through with the integration. Initiating swift changes in order to remain relevant is equally important. In the business of innovation it is important to remember that the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each change is strategic but a brand’s ability to stay in tune with changing consumer needs is an indication of its long term resilience. Digital Transformation Practices Helping to Sustain Retail Business Digital transformation is a technological platform for differentiating the brand and delivering the emotional experience that a customer looks forward to. There are several such practices which are setting the retail industry ablaze. Some of them are:
  • Product Customization
Digital transformation in the retail industry is helping to take customization of a product to a higher level, be it in terms of colour, size, fit, pattern and so on. This creates the ultimate shopping experience that a customer looks forward to.
  • Omni Channel Shopping
Customers are today free to walk into a brick and mortar store or conduct their shopping online from the convenience of their home. Whatever the location, the customer expects to take off from where they left. Digital transformation has indeed been a blessing for retail by providing insights that in turn can be used  to give the customer a seamless omni-channel shopping experience.
  • Inventory Management
For any retail brand , the out of stock scenario is one that needs to be avoided. A transparent and efficient inventory management system supported by digital transformation is a sure way  not to disappoint a customer in terms of availability. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also play major role here such that AI powered devices could be attached to the shopping carts in order to record and store individual choices
  • QR Code
The Quick Response or QR code is another such tool which helps to sustain retail business. These codes store a lot more information about the product, its origin, uses, cost, availability, etc. as compared to  the regular bar codes. Most customers prefer to read such information from the convenience of their phone during a shopping trip to make better and  informed choices.
  • Voice and Visual Search
Voice based search via apps has become a big hit. The voice activated systems such as Alexa and other Google home products provide the comfort of searching for products  and making purchases  on the go. Visual search refers to finding and purchasing a product just by snapping a photo and matching it online.

Conclusion

Getting started with digital transformation in the retail business sounds exciting but getting the projects off the ground is a whole new dimension. Retailers typically operate a complex network of business locations which include offices, stores and distribution centers. Bringing about change across all the units simultaneously might seem like a daunting task since the challenge is big and risks the attraction of organizational antibodies. Therefore the quickest, easiest and most cost effective way to initiate and conclude successfully the digital transformation journey is with a partner. A partner with the right industrial and technical knowledge will understand the business in and out and give guidance on how best to implement digital transformation according to the company’s goals and timelines.

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