Retail Automation – Critical success parameters

By : |August 23, 2019 0

Automation has become the need of the hour, from manufacturing to retail, every sector either has adopted or has plans to adopt soon. The retail industry is under pressure due to the increased competition plus higher cost to manage the e-commerce supply chain, labour cost, growing customers’ expectations, etc.

Retailers are pursuing automation to address the margins and meet the customers’ expectations. We spoke to Sunil Munshi, India and APAC CEO, Denave to understand the retail challenges and automation needs.

What are the top-most changes retail tech has brought into the Indian Retail Industry?

Although systematized retail is only a decade old to India but the pace at which the retail tech-led initiatives are being tried and tested is quite remarkable. We have observed a good adoptability of global best practices with a touch of the appropriateness of local preferences and style. So much so that India is considered the world’s fifth-largest global destination in the retail space.

Sunil Munshi, India and APAC CEO, Denave

Sunil Munshi, India and APAC CEO, Denave

Essentially, the tech-led makeover of the retail landscape is also putting a variety of purchase options on consumer’s fingertips making consumers capable of driving their purchase decisions from the place of their comfort and convenience.

There is no denying the fact that the fusion of technology and retail has delivered several new opportunities both for buyers and sellers. Be it giving deep insights into the purchase patterns, frequency, search criteria basis the evaluation, all the information is being used by retailers to personalize their customer engagement strategy.

• Within modern retail stores, technology is being used to enhance the in-store experience, increase the convenience in browsing and selecting products and faster checkouts.

• The level of automation has helped the retailers define the messaging with respect to the choice of segment, choice of medium to be used and plan their marketing budget allocation more effectively.

• Allocation has become more ROI oriented with targeting based on demographics, habits, likes and dislikes.

With an abundance of data collection backed by retail analytics companies are getting smart in the way they are handling this challenge.

In a nutshell, advancements in technology have opened pandora’s box of growth opportunities that didn’t exist before.

What are the critical success parameters pertaining to the Retail sector?

Retail is a gamut of processes and procedures that have been fast-tracked and automated with the help of technology delivered by Sales enablement partners. It leads to actionable retail intelligence which further drives sales in the real-world. Implementing a data-backed sales strategy will come to nothing when it is not optimized using retail intelligence. It allows for a customer-side view of the sales process, from the in-store sales experience to branding and after-sales services. These specific insights facilitate offering tailor-made sales experience to customers, ensuring customer retention, enhancing brand recall in the mind of the customers, and ultimately, providing a superior customer experience. Some of the critical success parameters in today’s tech-led retail sector are:

     • Sales force automation – Salesforce automation addresses all the existing as well as possible business challenges – It can be a holistic solution for planning and managing the field force program, offering end-to-end visibility to all the stakeholders in the sales ecosystem. It will address pertinent sales process issues such as the inaccurate process of capturing sales data, fraudulent reporting, limited stock visibility, and absence of structured communication platform, limited first-hand market insights and more.
     • Training – Training through mobile apps is an apt case of the technology-empowered platform for ‘feet-on-street’ (FOS). Applications that enable real-time reference material for a salesperson at a remote location are a key enabler in the retail space. The applications can be a central repository for the salesforce and may provide a window to the performance review, assessment processes, etc. for upskilling the FOS on go.

     • Logistical advancements – Advancements such as QR Codes, Virtual Reality, drones, digital wallets, etc. are being leveraged to enhance customer experiences. Riding high on the emerging technologies these logistical advancements are only going to expand and permeate the retail sector deep.

     • Predictive analytics- Data analytics has been on the boom with Predictive analytics playing a key role in the retail sector. Not only it provides insight into the customer’s journey and their buying patterns but also provides enough information to the brands for finalizing their business strategies. It helps them to make the right decisions and creating impactful touch points at every step of the customer journey.

Eventually, there are a multitude of options but, if the goal is to build a strong retail community by remaining laser focused on the customer, this can be a great start.

How does retail automation tools impact the retail business?

The retail industry has grown leaps and bounds and with digital selling channels becoming more affordable and result-yielding, selling in more than one sales channel has become a norm for retailers.

However, more sales channels = more management duties. Here comes in the need for automation and without automating or simplifying certain tasks with tools, one cannot focus on what’s more important to be better than your competitors.

Concerns like product visibility compliance, promoter readiness, operating price management, in-store compliance control, resolution of field issues, promotional activities, merchandising hurdles, lack of single view, comprehensive progress dashboard, stock inventory or supply chain issues are some of the most prevalent issues that bother most of the retailers alike. In that case, you need to possibly opt for a retail automation tool.

Further, some top-notch benefits of automation tools are:

     • Real-time workflow visibility and adherence check, geo-tagged attendance tracking, real-time data collection and analysis etc.

     • Enabling retail auditors via multimedia proof collection/shopper navigation assistance, inventory deviation calculation, audit recommendation, stamped photos with specific details for fraud detection.

     • Comprehensive dashboards with embedded Analytics and BI engine mapping market insights, new product alerts, competition mapping increasing brand visibility.

     • Significant reduction in TATs via integrated Advanced Analytics and Image Recognition technology.

     • Offline Data Upload overcoming the limiting factor of network availability, facilitating field force to expand the target geo without compromising on data accuracy.

     • Chat and Notification for team collaboration and improved efficiency.

     • Data consistency, reliability, data validation and real-time availability for reporting & analysis.

All in all, the tool should be a comprehensive retail excellence solution offering deep market intelligence of the entire retail ecosystem. A complete package facilitating retail hygiene management and providing comprehensive compliance management mechanisms should be available on web-interface as well as a user-friendly mobile app.

These tools have an immense following and are consistently upgraded to empower businesses of all sizes to be at par with the ever-evolving customer and operational demands.

What are the essential features that an ideal retail automation tool should possess?

Automation can be applied to many processes that make up a retail business, and there are myriad of tools to support you along the way. However, retail automation is a growing trend based on the need for cost savings and rising expectations around delivering superb customer experience.

But as it is said, just because something can be automated doesn’t always mean it should be. There are few features to be taken into consideration while looking out for retail automation tool.

The retail automation tool must provide/facilitate

• Integrated Analytics and Business Insights

• Image Recognition

• Easily Configurable

• Interoperability & Interconnectivity across mobile and web UI

• Real-time issue resolution

• Compliance management mechanism

• Latest mobile technologies enabling scalability

• Mobile compatible and comprehensive dashboards

Altogether, the future looks quite promising – It is projected that by 2021 traditional retail will hold a major share of 75 per cent, organised retail share will reach 18 per cent and e-commerce retail share will reach 7 per cent of the total retail market.

The richness of the data along with the precision of predictive analytics will be the key to critical decisions that will help the companies in optimizing their resources effectively, efficiently and continue to engage with customers in a way that the brands become part of the customer lifecycle. Therefore, it is pertinent for the brands to embrace automation to create an effective and empowered customer-centric experience and thus stay ahead of the curve.

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