Gone are the days....when people used to depend on the local store owners' judgement for their day-to-day shopping needs. Thanks to the technology evolution, people have got now more options on what to buy, how to buy and where to buy. As a result, the traditional retailer's job got much more complicated than what it used to be until few years back. It is not just about filling the empty store shelves any longer with the products that are likely to disappear from the store shelves fast. The challenge on the one hand is to deal with the buyers’ expectation and to keep pace with technology advancements on the other. But there is no denying of the fact that it also created considerable opportunities for the retailers to take the retail experience to the next level.
CIOL spoke to PVSN Raju, SVP, head of Delivery at Sonata Software to understand how it is working to help retailers meet the new age retail requirements.
CIOL: The retail industry has undergone a drastic change over the last few years and so is the technology infused in the processes. How challenging is this scenario to you as a solution provider?
PVSN Raju: Consumerism has changed the face of retail over the last couple of years. The retail industry is changing very fast with new retail formats emerging to meet the needs of the consumers. Technology has been a key enabler for this change. Retailers need to find new and innovative ways to engage the buyers and vanilla solutions simply do not work in this scenario.
For example, brick and mortar retailers nowadays are reeling under cost pressure due to cut throat competitions and price undercuts from the new-age e-commerce vendors. The concept of click and collect concept is gaining ground in this context, to reduce the internal shopping costs. We developed a store drive-in framework that allows consumers to order online and pick up the products from the store at their convenience.
Likewise, we have identified the types of promotions retailers can provide and built solutions which can help retailers design customized promotions and loyalty programs on-the-fly to engage their new and existing customer base.
CIOL: You have been a partner of Microsoft for more than a decade, which has dedicated solutions for targeted towards retailers. How do you leverage the partnership?
PR: We leverage Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence and Azure to provide an end-to end solution and accelerators for customers in the retail space. We started working with Microsoft for Dynamics AX. Over the last ten years, we have worked in multiple versions of the solutions and have built some applications on top of it. Besides this, we worked with Microsoft engineering teams on MarketingPilot integrations. All these give us significant strength to take the product and the functionality to the market as well. We are also using HD insights to collect point-of-sale (POS) data and understand customer sentiments on social channels to help retailers get relevant actionable data and put them to use.
Some of the solutions we built on Microsoft Dynamics are: ‘Promotion Plus’ for dynamic promotions, ‘Click & Collect’ for multichannel commerce, mobile-based ‘Shop Elf’ for a superior shopping experience including self-checkout option, ‘Retail Analytics’ for better decision making and ‘Service Management on POS’ for complete warranty and after sales service management.
CIOL: Solution-wise, what are the areas that you would like to focus more in the next quarters?
PR: We want to focus on some of the solution areas that touch and interact with the customers directly- the reason, mobility, will be a major area of our focus henceforth. We are also leveraging our partnership with the niche startup companies such as Moovweb and Appcelerator in this regard. We are looking to sub segment 'buy from home' and 'buy from mobile' as we look towards the customer loyalty and engagement for fashion and food retailing.
CIOL: How do you plan to grow your retail business further?
PR: We are trying to make a difference for those retailers who look for innovative and localized solutions to improve the customer engagement processes and optimize the costs. The focus will be more on the retailers in the range of $500 million to $5billlion revenue in the U.S., UK, India and Australia. We are also eager to work with the upmarket specialty retail chains as well as some of the brick and mortar large format retailers looking to grow their online presence.
Keeping in the mind the rising demand for agile developments, where it helps to have a delivery center near your customers- we have opened a 100-people facility delivery center in Redmond this year and will continue to focus on expanding our presence across geographies to improve the service delivery further.