How retailers can leverage O2O effectively!

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The O2O concept is not new, rather it has been a buzzword for a few years now but in the last couple of years this concept has started gaining importance. In simple words O2O means online-to-offline where online channels are used to drive customers to the offline stores. The main aspect here however is to make this experience flow between the virtual and the physical channels seamless and impressive.

Below are three ways how retailers can use their existing resources to leverage O2O effectively.

Brick and mortar stores: By treating stores not just as sales channels but also as distribution centers, retailers can leverage their store network to satisfy customer needs by using store level inventory to deliver orders to customers’ homes as well as for click-and collect orders. With these new fulfillment options enabled by the store, consumers can click, collect and return goods as per their convenience. Modern day customers are demanding a better combination of value, convenience and experience and brands who strike the right balance between delivering great product value and offering superior customer experience and convenience will emerge as customer favorites.

Combination of channels: About a few of years ago retailers went about developing websites and mobile applications to expand their presence and some retailers also shifted to an online-only presence without having any offline stores since the trend seemed like the customer was increasingly going ‘digital’. Moreover running and managing brick-and-mortar stores were seen as an expensive and time consuming affair. But the modern day retailers have realized the need to go ‘omni-channel’ i.e. seamlessly integrating both their online and offline channels to enable customers to research, purchase, earn and burn loyalty points, and return, across channels. Brands focusing on getting their omni-channel right will definitely win the customer experience race.

Data Management: In order to get it right in omni-channel retailing, retailers need to manage their customers and inventory across channels. As customers randomly switch between channels while shopping it is imperative for retailers to ensure that the customer demands are satisfied, irrespective of the channel they choose. Here is where data management will help. Having insightful customer data such as past buying patterns and purchasing history, as well as accurate information of the product inventory and stock, and having all this available in near real-time will allow retailers to be proactive towards managing demands across channels effectively and thus mitigating chances of lost sales. Moreover profiling customers will also enable retailers to create and execute targeted promotions and campaigns to spike customer’s interest in the brand and thus boost sales.

Big Data Trends You Cannot Miss Out On!

Big data analytics is on a rising curve with organisations across industries realising the role that it plays in their business growth. The estimated worth of the big data market is all set to witness a substantial increase from US$ 46.34 billion at the end of the year 2018 to US$ 203 billion by 2020. This emphasises on the emergence of big data analytics and the subsequent change in the business landscape.

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Let’s discuss the dominant trends in big data analytics :

Rising demand of big data frameworks

The demand for big data frameworks like Hadoop, NoSQL and Spark is expected to increase by about 32.9% annually. A Forrester Report mentions that approximately 60% enterprises are expected to have Hadoop clusters implemented by the end of 2018. This will accelerate big data processing, improving the accuracy of critical business decisions through real-time insights.

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Data visualisation and data discovery will come to the forefront. There has been an apparent shift in the concept of data discovery from simply focussing on data analysis to offering deeper business insights. This will in turn empower enterprises to track and closely monitor visual patterns.

Big data analytics in the clouds

The volumes of data in the database of enterprises have been increasing in leaps and bounds. Despite constant efforts from data scientists to break down. Analysing such vast volumes of information has remained a growing challenge. With lack of sufficient manpower to make the best use of these data, it is time to upgrade and digitise their software systems to the clouds to simplify big data processing. This will help in interpreting the unexploited data, also referred to as ‘dark data’.

Streaming Analytics is transforming Big Data Analytics

While cloud software has been gaining popularity since quite a few years. Streaming analytics takes it one step forward by analysing data while it is still being created. This phenomenal big data analytics trend is re-defining the meaning of real-time data analytics. This also eliminates any scope of revisiting or replicating datasets, ensuring zero tolerance for delays in big data processing.

Evidently, the future lies with big data analytics. However, the big question is “What next?”. It will definitely be intriguing to wait and watch how big data analytics unfolds in the coming years and the dynamic role that it will play in interpreting extensive volumes of data.

The 3 I Mantra for New Age Retail

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The retail industry has been a trendsetter in adopting technology and digitization. As a result, the industry has been revolutionized by the disruptions caused due to the influence of advanced technologies. In fact, the evolution of the retail industry still continues as businesses and consumers collaborate over trade to further influence the need for progressive transformation.

As the power is now in the hands of the consumers, they are driving retail businesses to constantly strive towards not only focusing on the customer, but also conceptualizing and creating experiences that customers can relish and cherish. Be it brick-and-mortar or e-commerce retail companies, every business is looking to capture a large chunk of the customers’ attention and wallet. As a consequence, the competition has intensified leading to a situation where retailers have only one way out – perform or perish. In order to stay in the game, retailers must look at the 3 I mantra: integration, intelligence and innovation.

Integration: Today’s shoppers are not ordinary shoppers, they are a new breed of shoppers who demand convenience and want speed. Moreover, they want to be associated with retail brands that are tech savvy like them and have more than one channel for interacting and shopping. These new breed of shoppers are ‘omni-channel’ shoppers. Thus retailers need to integrate their channels, operations and processes to be able to provide that omni-channel shopping experience that can leave a mark on the customer.

Intelligence: Again drawing inspiration from the customers, retail businesses need to be ready and prepared for their customer who is equipped with information that allows them to make smart and better decisions. In order to better understand the customer, retail companies must capture as much data as possible about their customer and have the data about their product and service offerings along with the knowledge of their operations and processes. Having this comprehensive information, retail owners must derive the intelligence from the data and use it to enhance their business.

Innovation: Every modern day consumer is attracted to new advancements that happen in the market – be it products, services or offerings. The lesson to learn from this is that retail brands must constantly seek to innovate. They must always look out for new ways to create shopping experiences that are unique and innovative. Using innovation – right from production to packaging and marketing of the products, to sales and post sales services, throughout the entire shopping experience will definitely appeal to consumers and will make them crave for more.

Retail businesses seeking to do something new and unique in their space must equip their business with the right retail technology that enables integration, provides intelligence and aids innovation.

360-degree view of the customer in omni-channel retail

Customers may use various retail touch points to purchase products and to contact a company for service and support. Companies can get a complete view of their customers by aggregating data from such touch points to acquire a 360-degree view of the customer.

Technologies such as mobile devices, online communities, social media platforms, and more, has resulted in a boom in the number of touch points for customer interaction. Without the right tools, this can pose a serious challenge in aggregating the data from the many diverse interactions that the customers may have across channels.

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Nowadays, retail businesses can employ an increasing assortment of tools to obtain a 360-degree customer view to gather customer information – social media listening tools to listen to what customers are saying on various social media sites, predictive analytics tools to determine what customers may research or purchase next, customer relationship management suites to track the customers’ buying history and to reward them, and marketing automation software to offer a seamless, unified omni-channel shopping experience to the customers. Such software should have the ability and the interface to integrate with other applications to enable data sharing and attain a cohesive, up-to-date, accurate view of customers in the real-time.

The 360-degree view of customers also often requires a big data analytics strategy to marry structured data, or data that can reside in the rows and columns of a database, with unstructured data as it resides on social media platforms and so forth is becoming increasingly important.

‘More Is Less’ – The New Retail Mantra!

The retail industry has come a long way – from being a simple barter system to the modern day retail that is all about ‘omni-channel’. This journey has helped retail to evolve and match the technology trends to meet the expectations of economic growth of regions, boost the revenue for businesses and ensure availability of products for consumers. But, the more one gets, even more is desired and thus for retail today, ‘more is less’.

Not only does every retail business want a share of the revenue pie, but it also wants to grab a bigger share each time. To do this, businesses are looking for modern ways to improve their operations and business models, to strategize effectively and increase the chances of boosting profits and margins. Further, they also want to expand and scale-up their businesses by venturing into diverse geographies or by sourcing and in some cases manufacturing new products for retail. In recent times, new channels of retail such as e-commerce have become the next big thing and retailers who were quick to jump onto the bandwagon, reaped its benefits. Many more are still following suit. But, even e-commerce has not been enough – mobile commerce (m-commerce) and social commerce are the latest retail touch-points. Taking timely advantage of these, can provide a fast paced growth for the retailers. It also provides for an opening for new entrants looking to foray into the retail business thus leading to more competition and this can just keep snowballing further.

Along with the modern trends in retail, there are a host of forward-looking technologies that can be infused in to the business in order to enhance it further. One significant example would be, the way POS technology has evolved from regular billing counters to being CRM integrated and even to Mobile POS (m-POS). Innovations in technology has enabled retail software solution companies to integrate even more advanced features to the POS such as augmented reality. With all certainty, there is still more to come in the future.

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Big Data analytics is another such important and revolutionary technology. From simple capturing of data to offering analyzing capabilities, progressing into predictive and intuitive analytics, technology has paved the way not only for retail, but also for other businesses to plan their next steps for growth. Big Data allows retailers to capture and analyze large volumes of data – of their customers, employees and inventory – to be able to understand and predict market trends. Further advancements in technology will surely add more capabilities to POS, Big Data analytics and other retail solutions.

Just like technology, there are other aspects where ‘More is Less” influences the retail businesses. A growing global population means more consumers, more demand and eventually, more business opportunity. The need to fulfil the rising demand leads to creation of multiple product variants, versions and alternatives, and also varied pricing. Retailers can create separate brands to target the different customer segments. Offers and promotions also help to attract more customers. With a focus on customer centricity, retailers also need to provide more information about their offerings. For the consumers, all of this means more avenues or channels from where they can buy or research about the product options, more choices and more discounts on the products of their choice.

‘More is less’ is definitely the new retail mantra of today! If retail businesses can get more done, they can certainly achieve more. The opportunities to stand-out are galore if, after evaluating all factors and employing the right technologies, from planning to execution, they can get it right in retail.