The pandemic changed the retail landscape in a big way. The widespread shutdowns of public spaces across the country – including retail locations – left owners of nonessential retail establishments wondering how they could keep the lights on. Though many were able to secure government funding, adapt to new safety guidelines, and take their stores online, many others closed. As a result, the way people shop may never be the same again.

Shopping for goods and services online is nothing new, but the pandemic accelerated the rate at which business owners opened e-commerce shops and consumers shopped online. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world.

Companies that put e-commerce at the heart of their business strategies are prepared for the post-COVID-19 era. There is an enormous opportunity for industries that are still more used to physical shopping, such as fast-moving consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.

Companies need technology that can support their growing requirements and evolve with their business. The pandemic has increased the adoption of new digital technologies, which can save organizations money by increasing efficiencies and improve the experience of their employees

The cutting-edge technologies of the day are transforming the business of almost every sector while enhancing their efficiency. The retail sector, which is one of the flourishing domains, is catering to the needs and requirements of a large population every day. Hence, it needs to embrace state-of-the-art technologies and implement them properly to enrich the experience of consumers while augmenting business prospects

Some of the technologies influencing the retail business are:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) :
Artificial Intelligence (AI) helps the retail industry in its endeavor to know the consumers well, resulting in satisfactory services. It is used to make pricing decisions, demand forecasting, and product placement in the store. It helps the consumers find the right product quickly and efficiently. Another major advantage of this technology is that it helps in predictive analysis; it aids in managing the stock well and making decisions about upcoming orders. The technology can also help in making e-commerce strategies by tracking online data. The vision analytics of AI is of brilliant use. It can recognize the behavior of consumers in the store like the items picked up, returned to the shelf, and all other movements. The technology is also helpful in performance analysis. These are the reasons why AI is picking up fast in this sector. 

Internet of Things (IoT) :
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of billions of devices where data is shared on a real-time basis; it helps in establishing real-time communication. The retail sector generates a humongous amount of data every day that is vital to get different insights related to consumer behavior and their choices. IoT enables the sector in collecting, storing, and analyzing these data easily. With this analysis and understanding, the industry can deliver personal experiences to consumers by offering them what they need. It can also help the sector in encouraging the buyers. The staff of the store can also use IoT-based wireless devices to communicate with each other and ensure better consumer service. The technology is extremely efficacious in enhancing consumer satisfaction.

Robotics and Store Assistants : 
Robotics and store assistants are transforming the retail space by enhancing comfort for both retailers and consumers. These devices can help consumers at the store in their search for products. For any inquiry, they can connect the consumers with the nearest staff. On the other hand, store owners can use it for different activities such as checking stock, identifying pricing errors, locating misplaced products, and others. It can also be used in the logistics and supply chain, ensuring the maintenance of stock. It enables owners to use resources more efficiently to drive higher sales. While introducing automation, the technology has enhanced operational efficiency.

Cashier-less Stores :
Contactless services are in the demand today. The pandemic has increased the demand for cashier-less stores, which are gaining popularity among consumers as well. These queue-busting stores are attracting consumers, especially health-conscious people. These stores can scan the items purchased automatically and receive the payment as well directly through cards. The technology helps the store staff in ensuring the swift movement of consumers. It can reduce operational costs while saving money for retailers. It is gaining traction in the market to increase productivity and raise the bottom line.

Voice Recognition Assistants :
In the post-pandemic world, the inclination towards technology has increased as it offers much-needed security. Speaking is still the fastest way of communication, making these assistants a favorite among consumers. It is also a service that keeps hands free from any engagement, expanding the possibility of multitasking. It is also easy to use for anyone, irrespective of their understanding of technology.

QR Codes :
The QR code has reduced operational costs for owners while enhancing the comfort of consumers. The store owners don’t need to publish costly printed marketing materials such as pamphlets. A consumer can know everything about the product by simply scanning the code.  These codes come in different forms such as video, text, pdf, coupon, and others, giving options to communicate with consumers. The codes can also be used to provide the website link to visitors which can increase the traffic as well as sales.

Buy Online Pick Up In-store (BOPIS) :
It has emerged as a convenient and reasonable shopping option where a consumer can order the product online and pick it up from the store. It is a perfect mix of online and in-store shopping. Consumers can select the products anytime at their convenience and collect them as per instructions from the store. It saves the money charged for delivery besides providing the same-day pick-up options.

Augmented Reality (AR) :
It is another disruptive innovation that is helping the retail sector in multiple ways. It is bridging the gap between e-commerce platforms, and brick and mortar stores through myriad offerings. The virtual fitting room feature of the technology helps consumers in making quick decisions as they can try the products virtually and understand their suitability. It also reduces the number of returned cases significantly. In-store navigation can be boosted by employing technology, enriching consumers’ shopping experience. The technology can help businesses in arranging the items, thus helping consumers to get a virtual view of items stacked on shelves. With limitless possibilities, the applications of AR are rising in the sector.

How Octaware Helps

Our breadth and depth of capabilities across strategy, customer experience, commerce, data/tech and supply chain, allows us to act as a true end-to-end transformation partner for our clients.

We are successfully helping our client partners thrive in this disruptive industry with our combination of deep technology focus, industry domain expertise and partner ecosystem – helping modernizing their data platforms to be future ready and embed data-oriented decision making in day-to-day business.

Our digital customer engagement solutions deliver a personalized, omni-channel experience. Digital solutions maximize the lifetime value of customers by engaging and influencing customers at the moment of purchase. We establish a customer data integration strategy as part of our enterprise information management programs. We capture data from diverse sources to provide you with a 360-degree customer view.

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