The new-age customer is digitally enabled, savvier, and looks for personalized experiences. The shift from old school brick and mortar to omnichannel platforms gathers pace as customers continue to leverage the flexibility of shopping anywhere and anytime

FREMONT, CA: Businesses across all industries are rapidly adopting digitalization, and this is mainly because of the emergence of Industry 4.0. Advanced technologies have revolutionized the retail sector and brought forth its latest form - Retail 4.0. The retail industry is undergoing a large scale renaissance of sorts, from automation of the operational process to churning of digital data encompassing the buyer's journey. Studies show that 79 percent of consumers believe personalized services from sales representatives, is an essential factor in determining which store they chose to shop in.

The new-age customer is digitally enabled, savvier, and looks for personalized experiences. The shift from old school brick and mortar to omnichannel platforms gathers pace as customers continue to leverage the flexibility of shopping anywhere and anytime. This, in turn, has raised the bar for retailers to deliver differentiated experiences. The retail sector today has to compete with consumers who have more spending power but less brand loyalty. This has resulted in a shrinking product and trend lifecycles.

Traditional retailers used their instincts to understand customers and serve them better. With the advent of the digital era, the retail world is buffeted technological advances, increasing competition and explosion of data. Without leveraging emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, Internet of Things, and AI, it isn't very easy for retailers to drive real frontline differentiation.

Data Leading the Way

Adopting a data-first strategy to map the purchasing behavior of customers and planning out sales and marketing strategies based on the same is the key to smart retailing. Historical trends and intuitive or instinct-based experience is now redundant in the retail sector. Instead, business leaders are implementing predictive data analytics to make informed decisions.

Retail analytics enables retailers to define the way they target customer acquisition. By leveraging Deep insights pertaining to purchase patterns, frequency of purchase, and search criteria, retailers can personalize their customer engagement strategies. Retail analytics also helps predict market demands accurately. Data analytics uses a customer's purchase history to help retailers anticipate the demand of the shopper and predicts what the customer is likely to purchase and when. Combining retail analytics with Artificial Intelligence (AI) helps predict products that customers are likely to buy together. Advanced machine learning can provide deep insights by mining historical data, which enables retailers to generate accurate recommendations, increasing their share of wallet.

Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI helps retailers to monitor all interactions between the customer and the store, which helps understand the nuances of the purchasing journey. Rich customer interaction data like interests, wish lists, preferences, and purchases helps the retailer to provide a curated purchase experience and informed service engagements. Social media also can offer extensive insights into customer behavior, making it essential for retailers to keep an eye on the rapidly changing needs and expectations of the customer to the extent of reading their minds. Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning can help retailers post extracting information from social media sites and make use of it to gain the edge in the marketplace.

Value for Money

Customers have always been on the lookout for reasonably priced quality merchandise, and this has only become truer with the rise of technology. Customers tend to compare prices for the same products across different shopping platforms and also search for apps that give them discount codes. Research shows that 64 percent of consumers feel more satisfied when they receive something valuable in lieu of repeated purchases. This is evidence to the fact that a customer's loyalty lies with the retailer who gives maximum return for their money.

Undeniably, price optimization strategies play a significant role in a healthy and growing bottom line. Leveraging retail CRMs, ERPs, and pricing analytics software platforms help the retailer to make data-driven decisions that can take their operations to the next level.

Delivery and order fulfillment have become areas of increasing pressure for retailers with the rapid and disruptive transformation of the sector. Previously, the supply chain was viewed as a support function and cost efficiency driver. However, the emergence of Retail 4.0 has transformed the supply chain into a competitive differentiator and enabler pillar for strategic growth.

Smart Supply Chains

Technologies like ERPs can be employed to facilitate intelligent and agile supply chains that enable retailers and marketers not only to increase flexibility and speed of fulfillment but also optimize costs. Thanks to the new technologies, companies can increase their speed to market, deliver customized services to consumer segments, provide immediate access to products, offer new delivery options, and improve inventory accuracy and responsiveness. Without continually adapting to the changing industry and upgrading to the latest technologies, it is impossible to stay competitive in a rapidly transforming market.

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