While we may crib about COVID-19 spoiling it all for everyone, it also is an underhand mechanism in bringing about major evolutions that have become a part of the future. Retailers and customers have got caught in a web of whether to do or not. Many believe that the pandemic is triggering a new revolution in retail technology, but others fail to understand that it is doing more. The year 2020 is the year of the Retail revolution in terms of changing retail technology across different categories.
The article presents an illuminating version of how COVID-19 will necessitate innovation in Retail technology.
Retail technologies to embrace the ‘New Normal’
Business does not stop for anyone because business continuity is the key to survive in these torrid times. Pandemic has forced the retail industry to adapt to the ‘New Normal’ by finding viable ways to ensure business continuity. Lockdown has mandated store closures across the world which has adjusted itself to online shopping. This has forced many organizations to adopt e-commerce as the primary customer point of purchase. Let us look at the approaches one can take with retail technology that will adhere to the mandates and promote business continuity.
Integrated Inventory management
Inventory Management software at present is a must for a business of any size to improve efficiencies. Inventory management is all about knowing what is in your warehouse and where the stock is located. But if it is not integrated with back-office systems and operations, only an inventory management software will not be enough to optimize the inventory. When customers access marketplace apps or eCommerce websites to shop, they usually put the items in the shopping cart which necessarily does not convert into a purchase. This is because they fear that the supply would run short leading to uncertain stock demand causing variations in the stock management. Retailers then face the challenge to regulate and maintain inventory during the crisis.
The focus of the retailers should be on embracing a scalable and a digitally-supported omnichannel retail strategy with a centralized inventory management system to stay afloat and profitable. With this approach and integration, retail organizations can provide unified experience to customers across different channels.
The integration will work wonders for your business as it will streamline processes. With real-time solutions, data at the disposal will increase automation. The most significant decisions can be based on what the integrated software presents. It will uncover potentially valuable insights for decisions surrounding inventory. By making it a centralized integrated software where everything is interconnected, accurate financial reports can be achieved. An engaged and integrated approach will provide a desirable experience to customers across different channels by tracking and refilling inventory quickly.
The retail sector going digital was always on the cards, but the pandemic has fast-tracked its process. Digital transformation has the potential to deliver incremental value to the integrated process and technology solutions. Disruptive technologies help retail enterprises get a practical perspective of the marketplace. They are able to gather, process, and analyze data for insights that can help them understand customer sentiments. With social distancing in the picture, customers are demanding a convenient and safe shopping experience with easier access, simple interface, and a wide selection of offerings.
A YouGov survey in March 2020 said that 85% of users in China avoid going to crowded places. If the outbreak worsens, 58% of the US internet users have clearly indicated that they will not visit shopping centers and malls. If the retailers are not proactive enough to see this changing trend, then they will fall behind the competition.
Retail organizations are exploring social media to get a better understanding of customer behavior. With our Retail and marketplace solutions, organizations can automate their marketing activities and promote their products through the digital platforms. Retail analytics also will play a huge role in devising a personalized engagement strategy across digital marketing channels. With no more encounters possible, a sound digital strategy will go a long way in revving up sales.
Social distancing does not mean that retailers ignore their supply chain management. Visibility across all digital channels is a must, especially in the peak seasons. Technology leads to accurate and on-time replenishment of stock across all nodes, which mitigates risks and reduced costs. RFID, BLE, and several IoT sensors will be instrumental in enabling digital supply chain management.
Customers are looking at maintaining distancing hence visiting retail stores is not on their graph. Hence for retailers, the only option left is delivery. But there are risks as shoppers may be a little anxious about accepting parcels in person, through a driver or a delivery person. This situation calls for the implementation of a contactless delivery program.
Creating a contactless delivery
According to reliable statistics, global e-commerce sales were predicted to reach $4.2 billion by the end of 2020. But these numbers were predicted before there was an indication of the imminent pandemic which has boosted online sales.
API makes it very easy to establish the interlinking between existing business and our task-oriented platform. The software that we design will receive the information needed for transport management such as order number, customer data, and delivery address. With API, Software development Companies create tasks that are based on the information collected. After the tasks have been created, they can be assigned to the drivers or can be done by the solution automatically. The display is presented in the correct order with a list and a map. With this new-age retail tech, the driver has a clear view of tasks which is what needs to be done and what already has been done.
Retailers need mobile applications that will allow them to track the driver’s location in real-time. Retailers can keep a constant watch on the right package being delivered to the right location. Retailers should look at investing in looking for dependable logistics partners, automate supply chains for real-time updates, and looking for innovative solutions to meet customer expectations.
Self-service technologies have truly become ubiquitous in modern life. PYMTS.com reported that the projected value of mPoS terminals by 2024 will be $55 billion. Retailers should now focus their resources on implementing measures that promote hygiene, shelf replenishment rather than asking the staff to keep scanners clean. New retail technology is now letting the shoppers scan and pack their own items as they shop. This self-serve technology comes in the form of a mobile application that can be downloaded to the personal devices. Customers can prevent any kind of contact by shopping for what they need, put the items in their own bags, and pay using wallets. Less waiting time, less crowd, and less contact – this is what will be achieved as a result.
Point of Sale
Traditionally the customers stood in line for hours to make a purchase, but when the lines are too long, one out 10 customers leave without making any purchase according to a study. But by using PoS technology, customer resentment can be averted in several ways. With the help of handheld computers, scanners, and printers with integrated card readers, the point of sale can become fully mobile-application-oriented. Mobile POS terminals can be used throughout the store for contactless payment and faster settling of bills.
Contactless payments are one of the most important technological advancements in the payment world. Even if you have decided to open your store considering easing of measures, contactless payments on terminals will respect every modicum of social distancing, maintaining safety and lesser worry for contracting the infection.
Even though the pandemic has disrupted the retail sector, the real emergent winner would be the one whose response best represents a strategy that goes with the current situation. Social distancing might be the real norm in the years to come because customer behavior has undergone a rampant change. They will obviously expect the retailers to adjust according to the modified scenarios.
Chapter247’s retail and marketplace technology solutions are future-oriented and targeted towards being modifiable according to situations. Our team will ensure you do not sacrifice your sale because of the pandemic. Our rapid-solution delivery team has in the past delivered projects with the needed speed and security.
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