22nd Feb, 2021
Marcom, , Designation
- COVID-19 proved that it has staying power as finding an antidote for a mutating virus still seems like an uphill task.
- The pandemic has presented a new set of challenges for retailers and reaching the self-isolating customers has become a fraught business for them.
- As the ordeal continues to widen, retailers need an out-of-the-box approach to climb it.
American Business Consultant Damon Richards once remarked, “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
This comes as a reckoning for today’s retailers & it never has that been truer than it was. However, demonstrating that care in a time where the customer facetime has been reduced by the pandemic can be an uphill challenge. This will demand the patience of a gardener.
With special tools & skillsets, retailers can deliver a personalized shopping experience to their customers and make client-centered custom offers to demonstrate that care. This can be of great help in steering the floundering sales to unprecedented heights. Retailers will be able to ensure:
- Well-maintained & consistent branding
- Error-Free & smoother operations — remove outdated demo videos, older campaigns, and outdated fixtures
- Get retail intelligence on new variant, planograms, POSM compliance, etc., for displays
- And streamline supply chain
If retailers revisit their business strategies and leverage the business intelligence with innovative techniques, they can successfully sail through these tough times.
To be looked at:
As per the Marketing Week Report, 41% of the consumers agreed that they were purchasing things online, which they would have normally brought from the retail store. With the pandemic looming, the year’s surge in online shopping is here to stay. Also, with changing consumer behaviors and modern challenges, retailers lost quite a share of the pie to e-commerce.
The shopping patterns of people saw a sea change. A McKinsey report concluded that 3/4th of the shoppers now look for value and convenience They switched to different brands.
Taking note of these, today, with IoT, the retail players can easily break the wall between brand, product, and customers. During the lockdown, retailers got experts in adapting, and so, now we have entered a new world of commerce based on digital tools and better ways of selling.
With technical evolutions, the retail business is facing various challenges. Many challenges the industry is facing are completely different and require a different mindset:
Digital Disruption and Retail Solutions:
Digital disruptions were quite common in the IT and electronics world, but post-pandemic, digital is no longer a ‘nice to have capability.’ It is a quintessential business need.
The pandemic has considerably reduced the customer face time and shifted sales conversation to digital platforms. Moreover, most retailers don’t have the readiness or infrastructure to scale operations for digital sales.
Evolving Customer Expectations & Buying Patterns
Earlier, the people who used to purchase luxury goods, are now spending more on the necessities. With work from home being the new norm, laptops, printers, and other work-related gadgets are more on sales. These changing consumer habits mandate retail intelligence to enable retailers in making strategically wise investments.
Finding Automation Solutions:
It has been estimated that during the 6 months of pandemic time, retail businesses’ investment in digital transformation tooling is worth the investment of 3 years! The uncertainty and lower margins have urged the OEM retailers to accelerate the automation investments on the themes of:
- Automated Checkouts
- Contactless Payments
- Omnichannel Inventory Management
- Warehouse Automation
- Stores as Fulfillment Centers
- Autonomous last-mile deliver
- Moving to marketplaces, etc.
Other digital solutions to enhance the efficiency of business operations are related to AI, IoT, Cloud technologies, virtual retail etc.
Training the Staff for COVID-19 Impact
Though retailers are revisiting the business continuity plans to reassure the staff and clients, they are out of flexible crisis management knowledge. Retailers need to train the staff on contactless customer sales & service
The staff members need to be trained on understanding customer demand, and customer contactless touchpoints, and other relevant trends.
For the units having several outlets in a region, relocating the staff for optimal performance is also a necessity.
Also, unlock these exclusive use cases loaded with fresh insights and inspiration:
- Brand Activation Retail Hygiene Solution Transformed the dynamic for a leading brand. Read More
- Strengthening Your Consumer Experience through Visual Merchandising. Read More
Supply Chain Gaps:
The global retail supply chain is the first and worst impacted region during pandemic times. Retailers are under mounting pressure to accurately measure supply-and-demand volume changes and their baseline forecasts.
The electronics supply chain was already in the throes of disruption before the outbreak. However, the tariff war between the US & China forced the relocation of some high-profile electronics manufacturers from China to Southeast Asia, including GoPro, Kyocera and Nintendo moving manufacturing to Vietnam. Casio, Daikin and Ricoh shifted operations to Thailand. These events developed glitches in the global supply chain.
What should Retailers do to chase & eliminate these challenges?
Retailer who want to swing back into action without compromising on revenue need to prioritize the following action items:
Virtual Retail Solutions as a response to digital disruptions
To counter the digital disruption challenges, retailers need to digitally transform their sales models, upgrade channels, and redesign sales processes. More importantly, they should realign production, sales plans and marketing models as per the demand and supply needs. Modern-day retail demands more subscription offerings, new online strategies, and integrated online-offline marketing campaigns.
Appointment-based shopping is another area of immediate opportunity as it balances safety, capacity, and personalized service. Booking the demo on the website and providing detailed information before the real shopping, is another best practice referred to by retail leaders.
Retailers with cloud-based tech, data convergence, and faster data access to products are breaking the hegemony of previous retail models.
Retail Analytics — Leverage the power of insights for accelerated revenue to understand consumer behaviors and gauge the expectations.
BI & Analytics are helping retailers to do the requisite introspection of their stores and reinventing & thriving in new market conditions.
A McKinsey report on Marketing and Sales insight concluded that companies effectively leveraging customer analytics are 6.5 times more likely to retain customers, 7.4 times more likely to outperform competitions, and 19 times likely to achieve above-average profitability.
A comprehensive retail analytics solution includes:
Intelligent Customer Data
Smart retailers are leaning on NexGen contactable databases providing demographic, technographic, and firmographic, purchase propensity, etc., for reaching their prospects. Clean and structured data in a simplified and standardized form enables retailers to squeeze value at every touchpoint and drive positive business outcomes.
NextGen Data Integration:
Data integration helps in intelligently meshing relevant data across all the data pipelines. It involves the integration of available data across various IoT devices to empower intelligent business operations and facilitate business data-analysis through a single pane. The data reports can be customized to match the organizational patterns, automatically with controlled access for better security.
For assessing the detailed reports (of the discovered data and related interconnections), dedicated GUI-based KPI dashboards can be leveraged to demonstrate the automatic modeling of retail operations. Automatic modeling of data helps in defining cause and effect relationships patterns and enabling informed decision-making. Enterprises reach many business benefits like enhancement in sales efficiency, greater market reach, amplified connections within cross-functional teams, effective distribution of resources, stock management, etc.
Sales Force Automation:
For the businesses managing a large sales-force on the ground, it is important to adopt automation and re-engineer the field force strategy. Salesforce automation enables organizations in setting up a smarter salesforce personalized for specific requirements. It helps in optimizing the resources and ensuring smooth and efficient sale operations.
Smart retailers are partnering with virtual training service providers for training sales teams on changing customer behavior, market dynamics, and contactless touchpoints, and other relevant trends.
By leveraging dynamic virtual and domain-expertise, expert sales trainers deliver adaptive, sustainable, and tailor-made knowledge to strengthen the overall sales strategy. Enterprises sales teams get the ability to drive sales conversations and simplify cyclic or complex sales processes.
Retail audit and visual merchandising to fill the Process Gaps:
Supply chain imbalances & inconsistencies will continue to fester across the globe and continue to impact retailers worldwide. Modern-day retailers should prioritize real-time & accurate logistics information (covering multiple scenarios) to make strategically wise purchase decisions. They should employ enhanced risk assessment capabilities to eliminate potential supply chain risks.
Retailers can lean on retail intelligence providers to make informed decisions. They can deploy AI-powered supply chain visibility tools to get 360 degrees view of logistics and capacity constraints.
COVID-19 has slammed many retailers on the back and presented several operational challenges before them. Digital disruptions, shifts in customer expectations & buying behaviors, and supply chain gaps are some of the smoldering issues that they need to circumvent. Retailers need to weigh a lot of factors to define success. Moreover, they should introspect many key areas to streamline their retail operations and drive growth.
Denave’s Retail Virtual Audit solution verifies the conformance of retail processes for key strategic issues that have the potential to be counterproductive against each other.
Contact Denave experts. Get actionable retail intelligence for smarter retail management.