Instant messaging technology improves visibility and performance of retailers

A Cloud Messaging Platform enables enterprises to seamlessly integrate instant messaging into the business flow using simple APIs.
Instant messaging technology improves visibility and performance of retailers

By Ravi Sundararajan, Chief Operating Officer, Webaroo Inc

Mobile Cloud Communications using voice, SMS, and data cloud APIs through Mobile Messaging Platforms has become popular amongst Enterprises evolving to connect and engage with their customers and manage their Salesforce and Enterprise performance.

A Cloud Messaging Platform enables enterprises to seamlessly integrate instant messaging into the business flow using simple APIs, manage all customer communications through a single dashboard, Detect and deliver messages via SMS and Data Apps in real-time, and engage users by sharing pictures, videos and emoticons.

2015 is going to be a ‘milestone year’ for Indian retail, where technology will act as the biggest differentiator. Retail organizations are deploying smartinstant messaging application across the entire organization – 2,000 outlets and 50,000 employees.

The organizations typically setup groups that are mapped to their teams. Some of the groups are self-organizing i.e. store managers would create their own groups adding / deleting new staff as required. Attendance monitoring is also enabled through the instant messaging. When employees arrived on site, they have to check-in to work.

Machine-to-machine communication is possible. With this solution store cameras can be connected to the messenger, enabling live footfall counting across all store locations. The cameras also enabled the monitoring of paid-promotional displays, which is immensely valuable to the sponsoring brands.Store managers can also share

Also when customers are forced to endure long lines during congested periods such as holidays, salespeople outfitted with mobile point of saleterminals can be positioned throughout a store at small tables. For customers paying by credit card, the full transaction can be completed and a store receipt printed where it is convenient for the customer. Clearly, strong security is a requirement from the network when credit card transactions are involved.

The ability of customers to engage in comparison shopping from anywhere and at anytime with the aid of instant and interactive messagingtechnology enabled mobile devices, is both a threat and an opportunity for retailers.

The instantmessaging technology provides instant access to relevant information diminishes the information asymmetry between the seller and the buyer. It enables customers to negotiate for a better price or walk away from a retail outlet at which a product is priced higher relative to its competitors.

A growing number of customers engaging in comparison shopping with the aid of interactive messaging technology enabled mobile devices will pose a real threat to the viability of retailers who are at a competitive cost disadvantage (due to smaller scale of operation and higher overhead costs) and as a consequence constrained in their ability to compete on the price dimension.

However, interactive messaging technology that enables customers to engage in comparison shopping from anywhere present as an opportunity to prescient retailers. For instance, retailers whose business models are predicated on a low price strategy, by facilitating the diffusion and use of such technology can achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

In summary, interactive messaging technologies can have both direct and indirect effects on retailers' strategies. An instant and interactive messaging technology that enables a retailer to compete more effectively in the marketplace can have a profound effect on its competitiveness. Moreover, instant and interactive messaging technologies can alter industry dynamics and allow smaller firms to successfully compete with larger incumbent players.

Also such technology initiatives would be crucial for retail teams looking at exponential growth trajectories in 2015 and beyond like creation of mobile dashboards / app for all businesses, offline-online, better usage of new technologies like ‘Augmented reality’ in enhancing consumer experience both online and offline.

Also Omni-channel or integration of offline and online is a key for anyone and everyone looking to make a mark in a vast and complex country like ours, where literacy levels are still abysmally low, but the market size is huge.

Key benefits of Mobile Instant Messenging for Retail segment includes constant communication with a widely distributed retail sales force to streamline business information flows and responses from a boarder section of the workforce.

Image: Corbis

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