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5 Candid Ways To Transform Your Digital Store For 2019

Digital transformation is at its highest level today. Enhanced consumer experience is the most important aspect for brands and technology is one major enabler to achieve the desired objective. To be in the league, retailers need to adopt a few ways

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“Digital transformation is driving a new breed of retail that will take consumers where they've never been before” said Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search at Microsoft.

The retail business today is undergoing a sea change. I have heard experts say that the apocalypse of physical retail is a reality whereas some opine that the brick-and-mortar stores are not a thing of the past. It simply needs to match the emerging customer expectations. Digital transformation is at its highest level today. Enhanced consumer experience is the most important aspect for brands and technology is one major enabler to achieve the desired objective. To be in the league, retailers need to adopt a few ways,

Transform your Digital Store for 2019 with:

Voice activated shopping model: A few years back, imagine standing in your living room and ordering a purchase, doesn’t it sound funny? But now, voice activated shopping is increasingly commonplace.

A TechCrunch survey showed that around 13% of the U.S. homes have smart speaker system, but interestingly more than a third of those who have the system use it to make purchases on a regular basis. In fact, it is predicted that by 2022 voice shopping will hit around $40 billion in the US alone.

The opportunity for retailers in voice-activated shopping is immense. For instance, physical stores can use voice search to help shoppers find products and learn more about promotions. It is a great way to generate conversational commerce. Even introducing transactions through instant messaging and chatbots can be used to engage customers.

Long story cut short, voice-enabled retail will make shopping effortless. The only challenge for retailers is to weave the model organically and authentically into the shopping experience.

AI and ML for interactive shopping: Consumers today expect a personalized shopping experience. Consequently, retail personalization is undergoing a major renaissance. This is particularly due to the proliferation of big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) across distributed platforms. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made shopping simpler and engaging. The good thing is that consumers are able to de-clutter their options and get a plethora of benefits with just the click of a button. When AI is implemented by a brand it monitors the browsing pattern of the customers, stores the pages and the websites that a customer visits on a regular basis and as per the computation received, suggests products that a particular customer is likely to buy.

As per Gartner, by 2020, 85% of customer interaction would be handled without any human intervention.

For instance, the AI-powered chatbots are taking the place of an in store sales person. The modern chatbots are enabling more transactions and earning customer trust as they indulge in casual conversation with buyers alongside providing them with relevant recommendations.

Machine Learning, one of the most promising has areas in retail is the capacity to improve product-search capabilities. Customers can get appropriate recommendations based on their search history. The algorithms of ML are so advanced that they can offer personalized suggestion to individual customers and can acknowledge the shoppers intent based on their shopping engagements, and profile data.

Nevertheless, to harness the benefits of AI and ML in shopping it is imperative that brands move towards a stronger phygital ecosystem, wherein the boundaries between the online and offline shopping is blurred.

Use of product feedback or reviews: Ratings and reviews have become more powerful than ever in a shoppers shopping journey. In fact, studies reveal that around 95% consult reviews before they decide when, where, and how to buy. Among these 95% shoppers, nearly 1 in 4 shoppers resort to reviews for every purchase that they make.

Customers rate product ratings and reviews as an important factor affecting their purchasing decision. The presence of reviews and ratings on a site can enhance authenticity of a brand along with customer trust. The availability of reviews is also changing where the consumers make the purchase. For instance, mobile shoppers are more likely to buy a product or a service from the mobile site or the app that has reviews.

However, in an age where technologies like PRIOS has blurred the lines between online and in-store shopping, a sturdy retail strategy requires presence of ratings and reviews at every touch point in order to enhance conversions.

Use of social media for branding purposes: Today social media plays an important role in our lives. In fact, I cannot even count the number of times I check my Instagram or Twitter account in a day. However, all of it is not fun and games; it involves serious money making business as well. A recent study indicates that around 90% customers communicated with a brand via social media.

Social media is an important brand building requirement but not on its own. Rather the brand building strategy and the social strategy is closely associated. In the 21st century brands need to have a social story so that they can leverage the emotional and persuasive elements of their prospective buyers. As social media is a two-way interaction platform, brands can get a better understanding of their customer’s need and serve them accordingly.

If brands can meaningfully connect with customers on social media and address their interests, and also reiterate their social media results from time to time they will be able to increase their market share, build a strong brand voice, and subsequently become a brand of choice for their customers.

Beacons: Beacon technology will soon change the way customers interact with brands. I believe beacons technology has the potential to do great things for brands, consumers, and marketers alike. The intrusion of beacons technology means frictionless retail consumer experience with fewer gaps between different touch points. On the other hand, for retail marketers the technology means reaching the right person at the right time with the right message and also innovative metrics to measure success.

The bottom-line is digital transformation in retail is for real. Retail can no longer be just about products. It has to be about customers. And when retailers are transforming from product-centric to customer-centric it should move from efficiency to flexibility and from optimization to inspiration. It is high time retailers embrace change and work towards improving shopping experience with innovative retail technologies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
retail Digital Transformation

Abhishek Mahajan

The author is Sr. Manager - Stores and Digital Retail Practice, Aspire Systems

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