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Retail therapy thru digital therapy!
Deepti Dilip J I Director – Marketing & Communications
I have seen my non-shopper husband butterfly into a shopper, much recently. More parcels arrive at our doorsteps of his than mine now (not sure if that’s a good thing or not!). The modernisation of retail has made shopping a breeze, more importantly, fun and engaging. From the times when we lugged ourselves to a mall or shop as opposed to now when the shop comes to us. Our generation picks the latter for its obvious convenience, efficiency and experience.
And what does that mean for retail businesses? To match the emerging customer expectations, customer experience stays enhanced, technology stays updated and digital evolution becomes a top priority. To stay in the league or ahead of it, retailers are constantly adopting inventive methods. Hence, 2019 will continue to be a year of digitization and wide adoption of technology by retailers across the globe.
Some of the top technology trends shoppers can look forward to are:
Voice activated shopping:
With most homes today having a smart voice assistant, shopping from our living rooms or kitchens is a common phenomenon. That too, without a device or human intervention. Which may have seemed crazy, just a few years ago.
A TechCrunch survey showed that around 13% of homes in the US have smart speaker systems, but interestingly more than a third of those who have the system use it to make purchases on a regular basis. In fact, it is predicted that by 2022 voice shopping will hit around $40 billion in the US alone.
The opportunity for retailers in voice-activated shopping is unanimous –
– Physical stores can use voice search to help shoppers find the products they are looking for or even learn about ongoing promotions.
– And, home devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are already offering consumers the convenience of shopping sitting on their couches.
For starters, Domino’s Pizza has embraced this technology, allowing orders through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Facebook Messenger and other platforms. While in France, Google Home devices can be used to shop at the giant retailer group Carrefour, a step that also helped them in beating their competitor brand. And now, many retailers in China are partnering with tech firms for similar services.
AI and Machine Learning:
Personalization is the horcrux of any business experience (Yes, am a Potterhead!). The fitting usage of AI (artificial intelligence) to big data has made shopping simpler and engaging. AI helps a brand monitor the browsing pattern of its consumers, storing their pages and the websites that a consumer visits on a regular basis and as per the computation, also suggests products that a particular customer is likely to buy. Or talk about AI powered Chatbots – who are replacing the in-store sales executives while not comprising on the quality of interaction and engagement with their end customers.
Machine learning enhances the customisation and relevancy for shoppers. Its capacity to improve product-search capabilities or getting the customers appropriate recommendations based on their search history, makes shopping fast and fun. Who wants to spend those extra 3 seconds staring at the screen? ML algorithms are advanced enough to offer personalized suggestions to each shopper and also recognise the shoppers intent based on their shopping engagements and profile.
IoT solutions are innovating and transforming the retail world by enabling businesses to create efficient marketing campaigns based on customer behavior, deliver high-quality services, improve inventory management, and reduce operational costs. Another excellent example is the smart shelves system – which automatically monitors inventory and sends managers alerts if a certain item is running low or any product’s expiry date is near.
The true value of IoT is in the data which can be linked to other data to boost audience insights and connect online and offline patterns. Walmart uses weather data to forecast grocery sales. And interestingly, Lolli and Pops, the confectionery brand, aims to analyse their shoppers’ paths and creates smarter candy displays to enhance interactions.
In the retail segment, robots can be used to help shop visitors quickly find products they need as well as to ensure the shelves stay stocked. For instance, Target tested robots in one of its San Francisco locations to help stock shelves and take inventory. Waiters have got replaced with robots in restaurants in China.
Amazon, as we know it, are one of the pioneers in technology adoption. They have been known to use robots at some of its warehouses already. And recently, Walmart began embracing robots inside and outside its stores. The robots Walmart is testing include drones, self-driving vehicles, shelf-scanning robots and more.
The stores of tomorrow, whether online or physical, are going to be a whole lot cooler. All the retail world needs is a little imagination and a big digital appetite.
- As the Marketing and Communications Director, Deepti oversees branding, marketing strategies and digital platforms at Ashnik for SEA and India. Drawing inspiration from her advertising experience, she brings to Ashnik her zest for creativity and design. She splits her time between a full-time gig at her job, lots of hobbies and swiftly dodging her toddler’s tantrums.