Decoding the Retail Sector in the Digital Age
Decoding the Retail Sector in the Digital Age

The Coronavirus has impacted the whole world and eventually stopped the growth of many sectors including the retail sector and affected the offline retailers profoundly. 
 
The pandemic has forced the industry to shift its business model and focus on online capabilities. The pandemic has also altered the consumption volume in the retail sector and now the consumers prefer home deliveries over visiting stores. Retailers have been experimenting with a myriad of ways to provide the best services to consumers. But they need to understand how they should use the technology and find new innovative ways to build up the new business model and drive the business digitally. 
 
In this Covid era, e-commerce is the new normal, with government restrictions, and lockdown, there is a decline in visits to the mall. Many big leaders have disappeared from the market while few digitally transformed their businesses. Digital transformation is going to improve the services and bring up the satisfaction of the consumers which will enable them to tackle the challenges of the Covid-19 and exponentially grow the business during these unprecedented times. The retail industry has started accelerating the technological revolution and started establishing its presence in the virtual world, coming forward and launching websites, applications, and digital portals. 
 
Technology is changing at a very fast pace and so is every industry including the retail sector. People are shifting their habits from Facebook to Instagram, blogs to vlogs (video content), Google to Pinterest, and so on, and so forth. Digitally transforming the retail industry will bring a revolutionary change in the field of business. As it will help in scaling the business up and to run a successful business one must adapt to the changes required for the growth of the business. 

The retail industry has been leveraging the technology and here are the different tools for digital transformation in retail: 
 
Machine Learning - Machine learning can improve the retail experience for the consumers and create a bond between retailers and customers. It helps the retailer to understand better and predict what the customer wants. It enables retailers to identify shopping patterns and understand buying behaviors and accordingly adjust promotions and special offers to boost the sale and trust of the customers. Personalizing product recommendations, tweaking pricing on the fly, and creating forecasts based on historical trends and customer preferences will help in boosting the sector. 
 
Artificial Intelligence - Customers can now shop any day, at any time as per their convenience, and expect the same from the organization’s customer support. Here chatbots come to the rescue, Chatbots act as a digital store associates and are a cost-effective and rapid response service tool that can help seal conversions and create new sales. Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important way to deliver the attentive 24/7 service that shoppers now expect. 
 
Unified Commerce -
Unified commerce is the term used to define a retail software system capable of joining all your business inventory and customer data from all sales channels. The unified commerce makes the buying experience easy and convenient for the shoppers and leads to boosting the sale by giving the customers multiple channels to use to make a purchase. 

Benefits 
 
Increase Purchasing Decisions - Customers are the most affected because of lockdown restrictions, social distancing, and long queues at the bill counter. Customers are looking for different ways to shop and waiting for their favorite brands to provide services through online visibility, where they can make their purchases in the comfort of their homes.  
 
Increase Digital Presence - At present, many businesses have started investing in digital presence through social media, websites, applications, and YouTube. It shows how your business appears online through search engines, content, and website. In such a way, potential customers interact with the brand through chatbots and can get assistance regarding the brand. 

READ MORE: How Retailers can Leverage Social Media
 
Gain More Sales - Digital signs act as beacons that help tell the customers what to do and where to go. People feel more confident in their shopping decision which leads to an increase the sale. Digital signage in retail can be used to direct customers to specific products and upsell items. 
 
Demand Prediction - Digital screens are a great way to catalog items and understand consumer buying trends and respond to peaks and troughs of specific products. You can do inventory checks and create a countdown on exclusive products you are left with, which is a great way to increase demand while at the moment. Digitizing the retail sector is also helpful in effectively managing the inventory.
 
Trend Forecasting  - With data analytics tools, retailers can have a better understanding of the latest trends in their businesses. Data analytics algorithms can be used to forecast future trends based on buying habits. Forecasted trends tell retailers what needs to be promoted to increase revenue and what does not need to be promoted.
 
Challenges  
 

Customer’s Data Privacy and Sharing Concerns - The data breach can unlatch the growth of digital retail. With an increase in mobile technology and with various data breaches happening around, customers are racing to secure data and privacy. Retailers should give customers the ability to specify who and what can access their personal data, when, and for how long by employing a digital identity management platform.
 
Technology - To be successful, there is a need to have a strong foundation if the retail sector is looking for digitizing completely. Moreover, selecting the right technology can be a bit challenging. Also, it may require a significant amount of risk and time to understand the new technology and infrastructure required for the organization. 
 
Complexity - Digitally transforming the business can be a bit complex for the retailer to handle all things by themselves like challenges in managing the supply chain, and providing a personalized experience to the shopper. It requires outsourcing to ease the burden and a partnership with customers, stakeholders, and enterprise entities to co-establish the digital journeys.
 
Despite the above challenges, retailers will embark on their digital journey after understanding the different technologies that can help in digitizing retail business and driving growth. Online shopping became a reality, transformation in the retail sector has completely rewired the shopping mechanism, and online shopping is considered more gratifying than visiting the physical stores. Partnering with technical understanding and industry know-how can help in transforming your business inside and out.

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