Technology has witnessed a rapid expansion and quantum of innovation over the past couple of years. Technology has already changed the way we communicate with each other and our lifestyle altogether. Among others, it has had quite an empirical impact on the retail industry, the way they function and conduct their business.
We are undergoing a retail paradigm shift from the traditional retail model where the key focus areas were product or transaction to the new age retail industry where the only focus is customers. Credits to technological advancements, the retail industry, now, is more customer-centric and customers want a personal and interactive relationship with brands.
With the swift advancement of technology, small businesses have an opportunity to adopt the latest technology for their business model. Implementing the right technology in the right place can help the businesses mitigate their operational expenses and at the same time help them grow rapidly.
Many small and mid-sized companies have already switched to cloud computing but many still hesitate because of the traditional mindset that makes them worry about data safety and cost.
Many companies focus on developing the software solutions internally which adds to additional working capital requirement, maintenance cost and additional manpower requirement. SaaS helps the companies by minimised investment requirement, limited tailor-made and moderate benefits.
Let’s explore how SaaS has changed certain functions in business operations. Based on the criticality business takes call Buy vs Build on the technology.
1. Unified Commerce Platform – Ensures that solutions are always working together and the web store is completely in sync with the store, without any trouble. It is a scalable software that reduces costly inefficiencies, increases profitability, and adds new revenue streams while speeding up transaction times to create great customer experiences.
2. Omnichannel Order Management – Need to leverage enterprise inventory at different locations more effectively and take advantage of cross channel opportunities. The most sought after benefits of distributed order management are optimizing inventories at individual locations and improving order profitability.
3. Omnichannel Marketing – SaaS plays a major role in omnichannel marketing. It helps to personalise the offer at the right time in the right way and make the payment process seamless. It involves training staff, integrating operations and customer experiences at various levels.
4. Omnichannel Returns – Possible to have hassle-free returns by centralising return transaction data, which means the data can easily correlate returns from several channels and retailer systems. Solution plays a large role in shrink management for omnichannel retailers, especially in BORIS situations.
5. Omnichannel Support Strategy – SaaS also provides support tool that offers omnichannel functionality to manage one of your channels (like email or live chat). Primary goal should be to make it easy for support team to access and resolve inquiries, regardless of the channel a customer uses. Centralised dashboards eliminate the need for agents to waste time switching between platforms or tools so that they can assist customers as efficiently as possible.
SAAS (Buy) recommended Small/Medium enterprise with no/less IT team The Build is recommended for large/medium enterprises with in-house IT team (Building the IT assets and IPs).
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help retailers operate more efficiently and strengthen customer relationships. AI apps are cutting the time to shop by recommending shopping lists, knowing which variants a customer will shop for, optimizing in-store pick and pack lists and in general, helping customers switch to a mostly digital shopping experience. AI is set to make a huge change in the retail sector like the ones listed below:
• Frictionless/Smarter Checkout at Store – AI would help develop a smarter checkout solution using technologies viz. Deep Learning and Computer Vision. With the RFID tag, it will be possible to scan all items in one go.
• Personalized Kiosk Beer, Wine, Food Recommender (Online + Store) – AI can help provide personalised product recommendations to customers like multi-criteria flavour recommender, cross-sell and up-sell by smart personalised recommendations.
• Real-Time Location Promotion Management (Next Best Offer) – AI can be integrated into the retailer’s existing shopper app, enabling the app to provide marketing at right time and right place thereby offering timely promotions to shoppers via Retailer’s mobile app to drive sales uplift.
• Price Optimisation – With the help of historical data, retailers can gain insight into optimal pricing for new/old products. AI and deep analytics can be used to help retailers continually optimise pricing models. Applications help to determine which products to promote, at which price points and how much inventory to allocate.
• Out of Stock Detection – AI in retail can help in better inventory management and higher accuracy because timely action reduces silent customer grievance.
• Last-Mile Delivery is the Key Differentiator – AI enables track and trace with route and carrier optimization and making its way with digital lockers which are the technology-based self-service delivery solution.
• Operational Excellence (IN-STORE OPERATIONS) – AI helps retail businesses shed light onto the blind spot of what happens in store aisles and F&B outlets. Additionally, it helps in image recognition to analyse pictures of its store interiors, identify products, helf placement and other elements of its stores.
• Chatbots – Chatbots enable retailers to automate about 70% of customer service inquiries across channels such as Facebook messenger, which can help cut operating costs and improve shopper interactions.
• E-commerce Product Listing Pages – AI helps to instantly create irresistible product listing pages with products your customers are most likely to buy with no more manual merchandising or guesswork.
• E-commerce Site Search – AI help customers find the products they’re looking for at lightning speed, so they can check out and go. It also controls the order of the results so that promoted products are seen first.
• Fraud Detection – E-retailers are responsible for the protection of online purchases and must pay for fraudulent activity. AI can be used to analyse transactions to find fraud patterns in real-time. When fraud is suspected, the deployed fraud detection model can instantly reject transactions.
• Product Assortment – Every store has to address a slightly different demographic potentially under different weather, seasonality, competition and so on. A one-size approach can result in stock-outs on hot items and markdowns on others, both costing the retailer hard-won profits. AI models can look at a variety of factors including past sales, store display capacity, local trends, online behaviour, and predicted weather patterns to determine which products would be the best fit for a given store. By optimising inventory at each store and intelligently rerouting inventory between stores, retailers can protect profits.
AI is critical to success in the retail industry. Driverless AI enables the retailer to improve audience targeting, product recommendations, next best offer, fraud detection and pricing optimisation. Innovations and capabilities will enable customers to accelerate their AI transformations in the retail industry.