Today, recent advances in technology like cloud, big data management and artificial intelligence have had a great impact on the majority of sectors. Businesses have the chance to streamline processes and become faster, more efficient and ultimately better than ever before. The challenge that retailers will have to deal with is how to keep pace with this rapid change and prevent from being left behind. During this COVID-19 pandemic, while it has put a break on business activities, it has given a privilege to retail businesses to push the pace of digital transformation programs and adjust their customer journey to respond effectively in these challenging times.
In this article, we concentrate on digital transformation in the retail sector to show you what exactly it is to retailers, why it is more important now, and the most important future trends all retailers should know.
1. What Is Digital Transformation In The Retail Industry?
Digital transformation in the retail industry
Retail businesses now know how hurt when getting punched directly in the face feels like. In the chaos of COVID-19, when consumers strictly avoid going out to stores, the safety of the online social media for essential and luxury needs, entertainment, and communication has significantly altered a digital transformation plan from a good-to-have to a must-have.
When thinking about the digital transformation in retail, retailers think about the way to improve their services and facilities to bring up the satisfaction level of their customers, and to use emerging technologies to find new ways to drive revenue and create innovative business models. Furthermore, it’s about creating a connected engagement facilitated by the use of technology. It’s not only about data intelligence, agility, customer centricity, new value propositions and innovation, but also about reducing costs, enhancing efficiencies and streamlining processes. That’s why digital transformation involves many aspects of an organization, including from its employees to technologies used in external and internal communication.
It is a long-term process in which one initiative builds a change that leads to another, and then affects other organizational elements involved in the process. Therefore, when thinking about the digital transformation in retail once again, retailers have to re-consider every aspect of their organization, from sourcing to inventory management, employee management, training and customer experience management.
2. Why Digital Transformation For Retailers Is More Important Now
While the shift towards e-commerce is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic has speeded it up. Here are some reasons why businesses have to strengthen digital transformation and adjust their customer journey to respond effectively
2.1. Life Post-COVID-19 Will See A Surge In The Online World
With many difficulties in economies, increasing emphasis on social distancing and personal safety, there will be a lot of changes in consumer demands, spending style, shopping habits and purchasing channels. The world after COVID will see a massive increase in digital buying and online interaction with brands. This makes an ideal reason why business leaders must expand their plans of transformation. Business leaders must fight to find their suitable options of operating and try their best to make profits in the post-COVID digital era. Some of the areas where immediate digitization can help businesses enhance their customer experiences include setting up digital channels and improving presence, investing in data and better models for customer demands, and empowering employees to work from home.
2.2. Retailers Will Require Deeper Insights Into Their Supply Chains
The pandemic has shown how vulnerable supply networks around the world are. Many retailers are affected due to their inability to predict and meet consumer demand for their products. Retailers will need more technology tools and softwares to plan and support their online and offline customer experience.
2.3. Retailers With A Digital Presence Will Be More Successful
As consumers are not leaving their houses and are spending only on essential items, digital channels will help businesses to work effectively. Predicting that, digitally advanced and data-rich companies have already started to capture market share by seeing this crisis as an opportunity for innovation and customer acquisition. Businesses need to continue with their digital transformation program instead of closing their business. Retail businesses with a digital presence will be ahead of the curve, survive and win the game.
2.4. Customers Tend To Stay With Favorite Brands
Most people are affected by too many restrictions due to the crisis such as social distancing, maintaining personal hygiene, queuing up for entry in stores, and so on. Therefore, customers tend to root for their favorite brands and expect them to provide better service while taking safety measures. This brings up the demand for the digital transformation of retail businesses more than ever.
3. What Are The Digital Trends In The Retail Industry?
Retail digital transformation has already started and many businesses have benefited from it. However, digital transformation is not a short-term process as technologies keep involving and retailers will have to keep track of the latest trends. Here are some trends which should be watched out for:
3.1. Augmented Reality (AR)
AR technologies and tools permit customers to try and view things from the comfort of their homes. For example, Toyota recently launched an AR program that lets users try out their new line of cars without going to the salon and picking up the keys. Consumers don’t need to download an app to try out the experience either.
Companies such as Amazon figured out that using AR is especially helpful in reducing the number of returns from online purchases. Since the revenues of online shopping will reach $5 billion in value by 2021, and experts predict that 25% of purchased items are sent back, you can only imagine what amazing cost reductions we’re talking about.
3.2. Mobile Applications
Mobile apps help businesses to connect with their customers in a better way. It helps customers easily check on the products, read reviews, etc. Additionally, they can contact the support team quickly in case of any issues. Mobile apps are also good for further development as they allow to add new features and enhance the personalized experience.
3.3. Automated Bots And Virtual Reality (VR)
Automated Bots and Virtual Reality
In the coming future, shoppers will be interacting more with digital bots and virtual assistants. With the development of AI technology, retail stores can design and build their digital bots to assist their customers online and in-person through smart devices installed in retail stores.
The potential of virtual reality technology is vast, and retail stores can benefit from this technology in various ways. Whether it is something as simple as bags, clothing, or something as complex as home furniture, VR technology can help consumers virtually check and try out items before buying them from the store.
Digital transformation in the retail industry may sound great and you may be finding hope after reading about the above technologies. But, the question is how to get started. So, the easiest and fastest way is to find the right partner.
At Kyanon Digital, we believe that we’re a partner with the technical understanding and the industry know-how that can assist you in transforming your business inside and out. Our team has deep experience in business analytics, IoT enablement, data-driven insights and user collaboration, so we can help you to save your time and money. Let us know about your retail business needs and we’ll come up with great strategies which are suited the best for you. Contact Kyanon Digital today.