"Deploying futuristic technologies is no longer a value addition but a basic necessity": Sunil Bajaj

Aspire Systems is a global technology services firm serving as technology partner to many retail companies. In an exclusive conversation Sunil Bajaj, Vice President, Retail Solutions, Aspire Systems sheds light on emerging tech trends in retail space.
Sunil Bajaj

What factors affect technology acquisition by retail organizations in the country?

Indian retailers have not fully realized the ROI on technologies. Despite the evidence, retailers are reluctant to invest in futuristic technologies like Predictive Analytics, Internet of Things and Robotic Process Automation.These are still not considered essential for digital platforms and are still seen as cost centers and not profit centers. Only proven, guaranteed to work technology/methodologies are adopted by Indian retailers. Experimental adoption is a big no-no. Though superior shopping journey can be offered, majority of the Indian consumers still feel that “touch & feel” experience completes a shopping journey. 

What are your views on Increased focus on security with IoT and mobility in retail?

Yes,we see that retailers are more focused on securing customer data to make them more reliable. With major technological innovations, Internet of Things has become a transformative technological tool for retailers. IoT has been increasingly used for RFID enabled inventory tracking to prevent unauthorized access and loss of products. IoT also plays a major role in shipment tracking to prevent loss of goods.Retailers are looking at deploying cutting-edge tools that are available in the market for fraud prevention and management.Mobile data vulnerability has significantly gone up in recent years. Retailers need a comprehensive mobile security strategy to have tight security over data and transaction flow to avoid hackers messing with customer data.There’s no such thing as too much security.

How are retail organizations leveraging technology to match up to the e-Commerce giants?

Ecommerce is a non-negotiable channel that is expected of every retailer. Ecommerce is a store of convenience which also offers superior Customer Experience (CX). Elevated CX is closely knit to the brand. Retailers leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to offer seamless omnichannel experience starting from ordering products online, real-time order tracking/pick-up in-store to frictionless return and exchange processing. Predictive Analytics is widely being deployed to provide personalized offers.

What are the IT innovations in the retail sector? 

Deploying futuristic technologies is no longer a value addition but a basic necessity. There will be more demand for transformative technologies like Robotic Process Automation(RPA), AI/ML to provide smart personalization and omnichannel experience will see significant growth in the coming years. Retailers will look at building unmanned brick and mortar shops with self-checkout machines. Augmented Analytics will be used for data collation, insight discovery and sharing for retailers to predict customer buying patterns. 

What are the trends in Retail technology space?

Smart Personalization.Personalized offers are all it takes to win Millennials’ hearts. Technologies like AI & ML help retailers predict customer buying patterns and create a recommendation list for each customer based on different variables of customer data.Customers will experience the best of both shopping worlds – online and offline. Bots and assistants at a single tap will help them through their shopping journey.

what would be your advice to Indian retail CIOs on successful deployments? 

Retailers must invest in agile platforms that will help them deploy futuristic technologies for offering superior customer experience and also support deployment on new technologies as and when they are introduced. 

Sunil Bajaj