Retail industry, on the world map, stands at approx. US$25 trillion in 2018 and is expected to rise up to approx. US$28 trillion by 2020, and therefore, can undeniably be reckoned as a big slice of the global economy pie. Even from an Indian landscape perspective, retail contribution is estimated to reach USD 1.1 trillion by 2020, with modern trade expected to grow at 20 per cent per annum in comparison to last year’s figures.
Such encouraging statistics clearly defy the long-standing yet proven-wrong claims of on-ground retail’s dead-end owing to the advancement in e-commerce space. The perfect proof to this is the successfully complementing survival of physical and online stores, cash and virtual money and so on and so forth. The key to this happy place discovery in retail can be regarded as the confident acceptance and adoption of technology by retailers – be it the big mammoths or even the traditional mom & pop stores of the world.
Connecting The Dots
So, what’s the success secret which is fuelling the industry’s exponential growth?
Retail success in today’s context, if seen on a granular level, is all about the experience which is delivered to a customer. How good or bad you fare as a retailer there determines your loyalty score, revenue logs and ultimately your longevity and success rate in the market. And that’s where the concept of retail hygiene management comes in.
It’s not a new subject for retailers anymore, but the struggle to champion it, is still far from over. Apart from excessively competitive industry stance, reason for the same can be attributed to the dynamic nature of the industry, i.e. you can expect newer trends and shifting customer sentiments etc. every now and then or new-age tech upgrades minimising the tasks which earlier required a mandatory human vision and inference.
What’s New With Retail Hygiene?
Quite a natural question to cross your mind that what revolutionary can possibly happen when it comes to a traditional concept like retail hygiene management. After all, it is all about ensuring that things are in order – be it the stock inventory or supply chain management, in-store compliance control, field issues’ resolution, proper promotional campaigns visibility etc.
In fact, that’s true. Things are intrinsically the same, however, the methods of management have undergone a technological makeover and thence, have made the processes more seamless, faster, precise, and most importantly, less dependent upon manual intervention (and thus, less-error prone).
Being an industry which is possibly the one generating the maximum amount of data every minute, the smart leverage of that data has transformed the way retail operations are executed. The impact of this data-driven decision-making in retail can be assessed by the fact that retail analytics market is expected to reach USD 8.64 billion by 2022. When compared to the 2017 figure which stood at USD 3.52 billion, it gives a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.7%.
The new-age retail hygiene management solutions (or we can alternately call them retail excellence solutions since they are so comprehensive and all-encompassing) are acting as gamechangers when it comes to defining retail success in today’s scenario.
Firstly, intrinsic elements like seamless interoperability and interconnectivity between mobile and web console versions is the backbone for any solution today. Then elements like proper JCP management, real-time issue resolution workflow and geo-tagged attendance tracking etc. for the store-staff, an adherence check mechanism, progress dashboards, push chat and notification etc. for the auditor and eventually, comprehensive dashboards and reports for the client – these are few foundational elements which constitutes a modern-day retail excellence solution.
While the elements may have sounded common, the difference which has come up is in terms of precision, speed, accuracy and the sheer volume of data which is now being processed in the same time. The provision of offline data upload is also a feature which these solutions come with, hence, allowing the field person to cover larger areas and rapidly collect accurate data.
Also, advanced analytics and highly sophisticated image recognition technology have given a facelift to even the basic elements of these retail solutions. The TaTs have undergone a significant reduction and the processes have become more scientific.
Mystery shopping and retail or inventory auditing, now owing to embedded analytics, can boast of intuitive surveys and real-time data collection, analysis as well as presentation of findings. Features like multimedia proof collection or shopper navigation assistance for mystery shoppers and shopper GPS verification, inventory deviation calculation, audit recommendation etc. for auditors are instrumental in helping retailers remain on top of their games.
SKU trends, market insights, new product alerts etc. are all part of the intelligent reports which are brought forward by the analytics and BI engine embedded in the solution and these reports are available in real-time or on-demand to the client.
Hi-tech image recognition ability in these retail excellence solutions supports the performance measurement of majority of merchandising tasks, be it about planogram compliance, shelf-space arrangement, price tag-product match etc. The reference-based and rule-based backend programming has become more precise than ever. Therefore, tasks like ensuring apt visibility for promotional materialor product facing issues etc. which were completely manual earlier, can be aided sufficiently with the help of IR technology today.
Secret behind the successful adoption of image recognition (IR Technology) into retail hygiene software lies in the accuracy, repeatability and competence of handling multifarious use cases which the modern-day retail excellence solutions comprise.
The element that can be lauded as the most revolutionary in these retail excellence solutions is their extensive customizability feature which means that the retailer need not say yes to a solution if it meets 90% of the requirement criteria, rather it can get the solution customised based on the precise business needs.
Such customisation requests can be completely managed by the delivery team, hence lessening the dependency on the larger service provider team and thus, shortening the time spent in doing the same.
The Final Word
Now that you are aware of the tech-led developments which are happening in the world of retail hygiene management or comprehensive compliance management, you can’t shut your eyes to the risks which are involved in remaining stuck to the legacy retail solutions.
Eventually, the key to writing a retail success story in this realm is to collaborate with a service provider or a sales enablement partner who not just holds prowess in the retail domain knowledge and backend engineering but also understands your business and your end-objectives thoroughly. Idea is to revolutionise the overall methodology and yet maintain least disruptions in the existing process – so as to not throw the existing system off balance completely.
As a retailer, what do you look for in a retail hygiene management solution and what are your non-negotiables when it comes to investing into a solution? If you’re a service provider, what do you think are the challenges which are still preventing the retail domain from conquering the sky and how does new-age retail hygiene solutions help bridge that gap?
The article has been penned down by Sunil Munshi, India CEO- Denave
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