Retail Automation - Assessing the critical success parameters

Sales, Technology | 6 minutes to read

27th Aug, 2019

Finishing line for retail is an illusion. What  may have been  true a week ago, may lose its relevance as inventories diminish, prices adjust, and competitors respond.

In fact, Indian retail industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries due to the entry of several new players in the past few years. Infact, India is considered world’s fifth-largest global destination in the retail space. By building a culture of continuous learning, retailers can prevent losing the track to improve further. Whether improvement is a function of changing conditions or a better algorithm (or both), building a structure of experimentation allows retailers to learn and adapt.

Essentially, the tech-led makeover of the retail landscape is 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.

Clearly, the level of automation has helped the retailers to define the messaging with respect to choice of segment, choice of medium to be used and plan their marketing budget allocation more effectively. In fact, allocation has become more ROI oriented with targeting getting based on demographics, habits, likes and dislikes based on information collected.

However, despite plethora of information available about the customers, the critical point still continues to be the pricing. The science behind the price play like – when to bring down the prices, how to use pricing as a tool to navigate through the market challenges and how can sales be boosted through effective pricing strategy. With abundance of data collection backed by retail analytics companies are getting smart in the way they are handling this challenge.

What all contributes towards success?
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. Let us have a quick overview into what all elements are considered as critical success parameter pertaining to the Retail sector:

Salesforce 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, absence of structured communication platform, limited first-hand market insights and more.

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.

Retail Automation Tool – What all can you look for?
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 bothers most of the retailers alike. In that case, you need to possibly opt for a Retail Automation Tool.

Essentially, the tool should be 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 user-friendly mobile app. Ideally, it should help you with the appended benefits:

  • Scientific processes enabling 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.

Further, if we talk about features that an ideal retail automation tool should possess, it must have:

  • 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

The future looks 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.

In fact, the long-term outlook for the industry is positive, supported by rising incomes, favorable demographics, entry of foreign players, and increasing urbanisation.

With this, future is certainly going to see much more accuracy in terms of predicting and forecasting. 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 optimize 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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