2021 saw good disruptions in Retail, with businesses optimizing their inventory and supply chain to ensure their fulfilment is immediate. They evolved to add fulfilment centres in their store to cater to new consumer needs like BOPIS (buy online and pick up in-store) or BORIS (Buy online and return in-store), curbside pick-up and same-day delivery.
Digital brings in opportunities to get new customers, repeat purchases with existing ones. In addition, increased efficiency with automation of store operations, empowered employees, reduced cost of managing operations and many others. The physical will continue to stay and evolve to the changing needs of consumers today. Here are the five trends that can accelerate their growth.
1. Technology is a must to provide omnichannel retailing
The pandemic had stressed the supply chain big-time. Retailers struggled to provide consistent experience while they kept introducing new channels like online, WhatsApp. There is a need for one single view of inventory to support all fulfilment options. Having consolidated inventory on all channels, Retailers can manage channel-wise pricing, suggested-selling easily. Product recommendations are introduced while browsing online, in price checkers at the store, at kiosk counters and even endless aisles so that they do not lose out on any order. By introducing an endless-aisle and recommendation engine, Retailers can upgrade from buy-stock-sell to sell-source-supply.
2. Q-commerce is the next big thing
Speed and convenience are becoming the two golden words for consumers giving rise to Q-commerce, the next generation commerce as the name suggests quick-commerce. It also means on-demand or rapid delivery and logistics for an improved last-mile experience. A delivery management mobile app builds a fool-proof Q-commerce system where businesses get complete control on delivery, delivery staff, cash flow and even returns. Complex processes like manual entries, delivery book, delivery tracking, manual accounting are eliminated, ensuring faster deliveries with optimum-route navigation capability.
3. Cloud is a catalyst to transform easily
Businesses of any size benefit from upgrading to the cloud as there is one version of the truth. Stakeholders have access to a single or source of data anywhere anytime. With cloud ERP, businesses can easily integrate and grow their businesses steadily. They can enjoy cloud elasticity for either scaling up or scaling down. With data being the fuel for businesses, they must protect and back up their data. Security will be the top 4 objectives in 2022. Cloud-based data backup and restore solutions are easy to set up, and data is automatically encrypted and synced in real-time for 100% business continuity.
4. Discovering the benefits of AI and ML
AI, ML and IoT are transforming the way a retailer does business. AI/ML can drive inventory control, predictive selling, demand forecasting, purchase automation, auto-reorder and real-time data insights for faster decision making. AI in the supply chain can help retailers enjoy efficiency as re-stocking happens automatically. It is calculated based on the demand for the product based on its sales history, seasonal trends, promotions and other parameters. Mobile apps for stock-audit, stock-refill, GRN and stock-pick use AI/ML to automate manual processes like what to audit, buy, re-stock when, how and thus determining optimal staff with no compromise to customer service. Importantly, IoT is used to detect pilferage, fraud and any security issues alerting the user with notification alerts immediately for proactive action.
5. Customer experience is Imperative
Physical stores will be re-designed, re-imagined to cater to the new normal adhering to the safety guidelines giving rise to self-checkout contactless interactions. With a single view of the customer, retailers can better assess, review and personalize the loyalty and marketing promotions, pricing, upselling/cross-selling, thus providing a seamless frictionless experience across all omnichannel touch-points. Pandemic has accelerated the innovations in Retail. It’s time traditional retailers put technology and innovation as the highest priority.