AI Revolution in Retail and Consumer Products

Artificial Intelligence, abbreviated as AI, has been at the centre stage of business innovation since quite a few years now. It shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Instead, going by the recent trends, its adoption is expected to increase manifolds in the next couple of years. The rapidly growing competition in the retail industry requires the players to consistently innovate with their consumer products. They need to improve the efficiency of business processes and improve decision-making – exactly what AI is equipped to help them achieve. This will ensure consumer loyalty and further increase their base, helping them to stay buoyant in the challenging retail market conditions.

Etp-Blog-AI Revolution in Retail and Consumer Products

A recent report titled “The coming AI revolution in retail and consumer products” conducted by the global IT company, IBM, predicts a bright future for AI-powered innovations. Conducted at the 2019 Big Show, which was hosted by National Retail Federation, the study included participants from 1,900 retail and consumer products from 23 countries.

Let’s take a look at the salient points of the report that was released by IBM’s Business Value.

  • 79% of consumer products and 85% of retail organizations that participated in the survey revealed their plans of integrating AI in their existing better supply chain planning by the year 2021.
  • Two out of five retailers already use AI, and the number is expected to become double by 2021.
  • The retailers surveyed believe that AI may push up their annual revenue growth by a significant 10%.
  • Artificial Intelligence plays an important role in automating demand forecasting and customer engagement.

 

 

 

ETP amongst the 25 Most Promising Retail Solutions Providers – 2017: APAC CIOOutlook

ETP Group, a leading provider of Omni-channel Retail Solutions in Asia, India and the Middle East is honored to be amongst the 25 Most Promising Retail Solutions Providers – 2017, as presented by the editorial board at APAC CIOOutlook. The key points of consideration while compiling this carefully selected list of new age retail solutions providers were their expertise, innovation and the ability to provide the right intel and resources to implement a scalable, cost-effective and easy to implement retail solution.

ETP apac-cio-outlook

ETP is specifically focused on brick and mortar retailers as well as online retailers, and in fact is the change agent for the convergence of the two. ETP’s Omni-channel Retail Solution – ETP V5 serves large retailers for their enterprise class requirements of scalability, security, compliance and high performance. “We are very happy to be recognized at this moment in time for our leadership in the retail industry, when we are helping retailers transform from traditional brick and mortar models to a fully omni-channel model and embrace the new age consumer”, says Naresh Ahuja, Chairman and CEO, ETP International.

ETP is an Omni-channel Retail Solutions company headquartered in Singapore, driving change in Asia Pacific, India and the Middle East. ETP’s software includes Omni-channel POS, Mobility, CRM, Marketing and Promotion Campaigns, Procurement, Warehousing, Distribution, Omni-channel Analytics and Omni-channel Connect. ETP V5 is used to serve customers across 22 countries and thousands of stores for over 300 brands.

ETP is enabling brick and mortar retailers to embrace omni-channel commerce and drive their brand-customer relationships in a unified manner with features such as Click and Collect, Click and Deliver, Endless Aisle, a holistic view of the inventory and a single view of the customer. ETP helps its customers get it right in omni-channel retail.

Omni-Channel Inventory Management Solutions

ETP Blog - Omni-Channel Inventory Management Solutions

As the modern day consumer is spoilt for choice, it poses a challenge for retailers to zero down on their preferred channel of shopping. Customers interact with multiple channels and switch between them interchangeably to suit their demands. For retailers, this translates into the need to ease the process of finding the desired product across channels, for the consumers by anticipating the demand and optimizing the cross-channel inventory accordingly so that no opportunities are lost. To achieve this, retail businesses need to look at changing the way they think about and deal with their cross-channel inventory management.

The current omni-channel business models demand for a flexible and seamless inventory management at the core of the supply chain. A versatile inventory flow, that accommodates the frequent changes in consumer preferences across channels – be it physical stores or e-commerce – is essential. Retailers need to work on 2 main factors: allocation and replenishment.

The solution for retailers to tackle this is a single comprehensive omni-channel suite that seamlessly integrates channels. Such a system can enable examination of the inventory pool and allocate or replenish the stock based on pre-defined business rules and the business intelligence data acquired from across the different shopping channels. Based on analysis of the data captured, retailers can define strategies to manage cross-channel inventory. Thus, the solution can help to eliminate hurdles in inventory management and enable retailers to have a comprehensive view of their cross-channel supply chain. They can respond to trends quickly and optimize performance of their merchandise and assortments across the physical and online channels, reduce markdowns as well as satisfy customer expectations.

ETP V5 Omni-Channel Retail Suite consists of an enterprise-class multi-channel, multi-currency, and multi-lingual inventory management software solution which addresses the key needs of this dynamic industry such as merchandise management, sourcing, e-commerce order management, warehousing, sales, inventory management, replenishment planning, procurement, allocation and distribution. The system allows retailers to link up with the ETP Merchandise and Assortment planning solutions to execute their procurement based on the OTB Plan. This ensures that they buy right, distribute, allocate and deliver right.

‘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.

ETP blog - More is less

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.

5 Questions – Before Investing In Retail Business Intelligence (BI)

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Big data eliminates the uncertainty out of the enterprise, provided the right software and tools are used to break it down into accessible bits of information. When deduced and used correctly, it helps retailers identify the pain and gain areas of business. It also provides actionable insights into customer behaviors, demographics, brand affinity and the ability to create targeted campaigns.

But will Big Data give you the right data? Ask the following before investing in retail BI solutions.

Who is your customer and how effectively can you reach out to him?
While Big Data can help you be more strategic in customer engagement, it is necessary to ascertain who your audience is and how will you reach out to them. Once you have understood this, you can allot the necessary KPIs to the data project and establish the foundation of success.

Does it provide the crucial 80/20 analytics?
Retailers and marketing teams understand the value of deriving the 80/20 analytics. On average, 20% of your customer generate 80% of your top-line revenue. So, while you might be able to acquire information on thousands of customers, it is more important to know your top customers. Understanding their traits and ticks would potentially surge revenue and recommendations both.

Do I have the employee strength to support it?
The influence of emergent technology permeates all industries. There is often high pressure and anxiety related to ‘Big Data’ adoption, as a business process. In the eagerness to obtain the latest technology software and application, retailers tend to miss the long-term requirements of the system. . The BI application phases are to be supported by people, within the organization, with the right skill set to derive value from the vast enterprise data and validate system results.

Do I have the company culture to sustain it?
Big Data technology wielded as a demonstration of competitive advantage will only take you so far. Deep and comprehensive planning is essential to understand the levels of analytics needed by the current and projected business scope.

Is it social?
Social media integration with the BI system is crucial to not just accumulate, but also to validate CRM data. It helps generate a community-based correlation and engagement with customers. Both business functions, BI and social media, feed information to each other. This helps you reach out to a bigger circle of potential prospects with targeted campaigns and communication.

Omni-Channel Technology Solutions For Your Retail Business

Retail has been transformed by technology – driving greater personalization for consumers, more conversions for retailers, and more traffic on multiple retail channels. Omni-channel retailing has become the norm in the industry and customers expect access to retail brands through multiple channels, at their convenience. Omni-channel retail adaptation continues to grow further as customers embrace emerging technology and its multiple access points. Your omni-channel presence and perceptivity, and not just your product, makes or breaks your brand image today.

Customers expect a uniform and meaningful experience across all retail channels and instant connectivity to retail brands regardless of how and when they connect with the physical stores. They expect retailers to know what they want and how they like to make their purchases. Shopper expectations identified in an recent IBM survey showed 59 percent of shoppers want retailers to demonstrate that they “understand” them, 64 percent expect retailers to know what products they like, 61 percent want retailers to know the types of offers they prefer, and 59 percent want retailers to tell them when frequently purchased items are going on sale. Further, 54 percent said they expect retailers to know if they are new or returning customers, and 53 percent want retailers to maintain a cross-channel history of all purchases so they can receive personalized offers.

Thus, the need of the hour for retailers is to get closer to the customers through all channels, offline and online. Retailers need to drive traffic to the brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms simultaneously. Marketing campaigns must be aligned to the right retail channel with the right message at the right time and right price. Customer data can be used to provide predictive analytics for a strong promotions foundation. Incorporating integrated technology allows enterprises to explore successful offerings that link online and physical shopping.

Retail solutions such as the ETP V5 are fundamentally integrated with omni-channel capabilities that simplify business processes and offer retailers the power to create highly targeted, immensely effective and easily measurable marketing promotions; thus, allowing retailers to determine their return on investment (ROI) and improve their bottom line.

ETP V5 Retail Software Solutions comprise of the omni-channel store solutions, omni-channel promotions planning, omni-channel merchandise planning and omni-channel business analytics.

Are You Working On Your Customer Experience Shelf Life?

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The advent of modern technology has added a new dimension to the way retail businesses operate. There has been a significant shift from product or operation based retailing to a more customer centric one. Focus on customer experience has become the new norm and the prime necessity for every retail business for sustenance and growth. This is a new challenge for retailers – to constantly meet expectations and thus sustain the customer experience ‘shelf life’.

Customers today, have the power of choice – a widespread range of products and alternatives, an unending list of retailers and multiple channels to shop from – they can choose from and use several permutations and combinations, thus forcing the imperative need for retailers to constantly deliver the best customer experience throughout the retail customer journey.

Every product has a shelf life, some last long and some don’t. So also, the customer experience has a shelf life; but unlike products, retailers can work towards extending its length and retaining it. To do this, retailers need to quickly adapt to latest industry trends. They must enhance their business models by allowing infusion of emerging technologies in their operations. Below are a few tips on how this could be done:

–         having omni-channel capabilities for ensuring overall presence

–         using mobile POS counters for quick customer service

–         acquiring and using customer feedback to enhance the shopping experience

–         employing effective CRM solutions to foster brand loyalty

–         planning and executing customer centric marketing and promotions campaigns

–         using the right tools for merchandise and inventory management

–         engaging with the customers using social media and other channels

–         capturing, analyzing and integrating real-time business data to

In this dynamic, technology influenced and highly competitive retail environment, it is essential for retail businesses to stand out and surpass the competition in delivering and sustaining customer experience thereby, working towards longer customer experience shelf lives. This will enable retailers to not only retain existing customers, but also acquire more by virtue of goodwill fostered amongst the current ones.

ETP Group – Getting It Right In Retail

In 2014, 50,000 retail associates used ETP Retail Software Solutions to serve 180,000,000 consumers, selling USD 15,000,000,000 of merchandise. Over 300 global brands in 20 countries, across 10 time-zones, in 200+ cities, at 25,000+ stores, in 5 languages, run on ETP. More than 500 enterprise software projects were successfully implemented for leading retailers throughout Asia Pacific.

Founded in 1988, ETP Group is a leading retail software solutions company headquartered in Singapore with a presence in 20 countries across Asia Pacific and the Middle East. ETP’s value proposition is its ability to create innovative retail software solutions, to deliver domain expertise through its  best practices knowledge base and expert team of consultants adding up to 1800 man years of retail expertise in various retail verticals: Apparel, Fashion Footwear, Sports Goods, Luggage and Hand Bags, Time Pieces, Luxury Goods, Mobile Phones and Accessories, Electronics and Multimedia Communications, Furniture and Home Furnishings, Jewelry and more.

ETP’s Retail Software Solution – ETP V5 is an enterprise class, scalable and secure platform for large to mid-sized retailers. ETP V5 includes forward looking innovations in omni channel store solutions, marketing campaigns and CRM, supply chain management and warehousing, merchandise planning, assortment planning and OTB with powerful analytics solutions. With a simple and user-friendly interface and a range of mobile, social media and web apps, it is tuned to the new generation of retail employees.

ETP’s 25 years in the retail space has resulted in ETP building a powerful and solid domain expertise, demonstrable through its renowned best practices templates, which are used during the implementation of the ETP V5 solution. Companies looking for advanced technology to improve their business efficiencies and a long term, stable partner find value in ETP.

Demand And Supply – The Balance Act Of Retail

Historically, the retail market has often run scarlet with a string of skewed trajectories, to favor either demand or supply. And as with any unsteady, volatile relationship, it has remarkably rebounded from one side to the other, with major economic implications. The most weathered and prominent page from the book of market misadventures would be the period of the Great Depression in U.S.A between 1929 and 1930.  An overconfident market outlook without airtight economic policies lead to a swift and sudden stock market crash. The abundance of manufactured goods and materials with little or no demand led to investment prudence born from panic.

This led to the makings of the very first economic bubble the country had ever experienced. The market crash exposed its anemic financial composition and ensured that the public’s investments were washed-out by the federal banks.

The universal and most basic theories of demand is what determined World War II playing a crucial role in U.S.A’s recovery. The ongoing war and its increasing scale induced a large amount of government expenditure being routed in manufacturing of military weapons and technology. It also helped mobilize manpower, creating more jobs and rekindling the economy. Before the American entry in the war, its market once again stabilized with defense spending and military deployment, satisfying global demand and thus obliterating the last traces of the Depression. The U.S. went on to experience the greatest industrial and economic boom till date, growing by 37% in 1950s.

The above example represents the purpose and tumultuous two-sided effects of the proverbial coin. In this case, the coin would be the retail market and its consumers, the two sides are demand and supply. It teaches us the perils of flying blind without understanding the consumer motivation to satisfy his need and desire. On the other hand, it reminds us that strategically developing supply channels can swiftly turn the tide in your favor, leaving competition panting leagues behind you.

The deep penetrative expansion of the global market, producing varied product / service options from different geographies, has rendered today’s retail business to be more customer-centric. For retailers, the necessity to adopt and apply technology has magnified multi-fold. It arms them with the right Business Intelligence (BI) to easily capture and read complex customer data. This information is further broken down and analyzed to asses various customer behavioral, conditional and economical patterns and potential.

ETP blog demand and supply

It helps them determine accurately the DEMAND:

  • What are his customers buying?
  • When and how much are they buying?
  • Why are they buying and for whom?
  • What are they buying from competition and why?
  • When will they come back to the store and for what?
  • What are their product preferences and how receptive they are to product modification?
  • What is the present and future wallet size of the customer?
  • What are the new customer demographics that can be targeted?
  • What promotions strategies and channels work for my business?

 

Basis the answers derived from the questions above, the retailer can optimize resources and his SUPPLY chain:

  • How many product lines will he need to manufacture/source in the upcoming season/cycle?
  • Which are the best vendors for particular materials or project?
  • What should be his pricing strategy and how best should he plan the mark-downs?
  • How much is the old stock and how soon can it be processed or sold?
  • How much is the dead stock and how best to utilize it?
  • Which are the fast moving locations and how many distributors will suffice?
  • When, how, where to restock at store, warehouse level?

Retailers can themselves or through expert buying teams amalgamate the science of determining economy growth, government policies, sanctions and market growth, risks and recovery methods with the art of understanding customer’s motivation, aspirations, likes, dislikes, future needs and market trends.

Proven to be the catalyst of this process – ETP V5 Retail Software Solutions successfully establish the balance between the demand and supply of a retail business. These can be implemented comprehensively or modularly, in premise or on the cloud, on virtually all platforms. This makes it easier to integrate the right Business Intelligence tools that optimize present and future market conditions, with respect to customers and competition both. ETP V5 Retail Solutions help retailers get it right in retail with stable, scalable innovations that drive operational excellence and increase profitable growth.