Cutting-edge technology has left no sector of the economy untouched and is turning out to be one of the biggest drivers of efficiency, customer experience, and profitability. In the last few years, the retail industry has also been experiencing some transformative technological interventions that are reshaping the way business is done. At the very heart of this transformation is the growth in ICT (Information & Communication Technology) and digital technology. This is going to have an impact on how the industry will evolve in the coming years. In this blog, we talk about the top 5 technology trends that are at the forefront of this global transformation in retail.
- Omnichannel retail
Omnichannel retail seeks to provide an unprecedented number of options to customers in terms of shopping and delivery. It puts customers right at the center of the retail process. Omnichannel allows customers to interact with the brand at multiple touchpoints and switch between channels while shopping for products. Customers making a purchase on a brand’s social media page can pick up the product from their brick-and-mortar store.
Omnichannel provides customers a consistent shopping experience across diverse platforms, both online and offline. This however creates new challenges for brands at the backend and compels them to be more agile and flexible with their fulfillment process.
Omnichannel is driven by a robust technology infrastructure. Connecting all the retail channels and integrating the assortments of all warehouses and stores is essential, and is done using automation-backed solutions. Inventory barcode and serialization facilitate easy tracking of items as they move fluidly across channels. Likewise, analytics and automation help position products at the right locations which helps reduce delivery time as well as logistics costs.
2. Need for immediate gratification
As new players enter the retail fray, customers are spoiled for choice, not just in terms of product options but also in the speed of delivery. Same-day delivery is gradually paving way for delivery within a few hours’ time. This requires rethinking the product placement and logistics on the part of the brands.
Accurate forecasting and data analysis, coupled with automation, can help brands make better decisions and place the right products close to their customer base. In-season sales and inter-warehouse transfers can further help meet the changing demand of the local market. More and more brands are now opting for distributed warehousing and on-demand warehousing, allowing brands to place the most sought-after products as close to customer clusters as possible.
3. Automation of processes to reduce dependence on skilled labor
One of the most formidable challenges that companies faced during the pandemic was the shortage of skilled labor. This often made handling of equipment and technology difficult as most of the workforce lacked adequate training.
But with technology solutions like Increff WMS, there is a greater role for automation and much lesser reliance on a trained or skilled workforce. The UX/UI is often very simple and easy to use. Besides, the automatic pop-ups act as warning signals in case of any errors in the input, and prevent the user from advancing, unless the error is cleared at each step. This means just about anyone with basic training can operate the system and keep the show running.
4. Meaningful partnerships for value addition and hyper-localization
The hyperlocal delivery industry is expected to grow up to $3634 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 17.9% between 2019-2027. An increasing number of brands are now relying upon local partners for their last-mile logistics and other specialized tasks.
Hyperlocal partners are most effective in supplying goods like drugs and groceries that require quicker fulfillment. They reduce the reliance on the larger supply chain and provide for better business continuity in case of disruptions elsewhere. However, establishing a meaningful partnership with hyperlocal players means brands must integrate with them seamlessly on a robust technology platform, making them a part of their supply chain.
5. Sustainable retailing
Using technology and automation to route goods through the shortest possible pathways means savings for brands and other stakeholders, and also reduced levels of emissions. Greater levels of accuracy mean the reduced likelihood of returns and therefore elimination of additional transportation. By leveraging options like distributed warehousing and placing goods closer to the customers, brands are also able to create shorter supply chains, maximize sales and boost sustainability in retail for a better future.
With technology as the main driving force, these crucial trends are all set to reshape the retail industry and make a lasting impact on how the business is going to evolve from here on. Quite evidently, these trends are expected to create value for all stakeholders, including the environment.
30 June, 2022