New age tech such as Artificial intelligence and Big data is set to become the order of the day
Deepak Bansal, Director, Cantabil Retail India Ltd.
As we adjust into the post COVID world, with caution, hesitance and social distancing becoming the New Normal, its already time to embrace the New Year. In a bid sustain business and cope up with the demanding circumstances of the ‘New Normal’ in 2020, businesses across industries, demonstrated resilience and adopted newer strategies. They realigned themselves to the evolving consumer behavior and business environment.
Putting things into perspective, like any other industry, retail had already started integrating tech-backed experiences for better customer engagement and to keep up with the evolving technological ecosystem. However, post lockdown, technology that was perceived to be a mere backend operations support, is now the frontend star and is achieving maximum in terms of customer expectations. To be specific, the ‘New Normal’ accelerated the adoption of technology in the retail sector and certain fundamentals of retail, in view of the reduced footfall in stores and change in shopping behavior.
With all of this at the backdrop, there are certain focus areas we have identified to further our growth for the year 2021.
Sustainable Expansion: One of the hard facts that we took home this year, post the outbreak of the pandemic is destroying forests and coming in close contact with wildlife can wreak havoc on us. A disease that spread from animals to humans has altered the ways the entire world lives. Given that, despite the health crisis and uncertainties, we look at this pandemic as an opportunity to rebuild in a more sustainable manner. The lockdown gave an opportunity to all businesses to reassess their business actions and collectively deal with the environmental issues and keep from risking the wellbeing and livelihood of all humans. The pandemic has caused some major socio-economic distress and this warrants for businesses to have policies that not only puts business resilience, but societal resilience at the core too.
Marketing strategy: Considering the massive shift in the behaviors of buyer and sellers, our marketing strategy this year will reflect the same. As shoppers become more and more self-aware and aware of their surroundings, their buying decisions are no longer based on just price or convenience. The brand ethics, value and transparency has a big role to play in deciding upon or against a brand. In terms of our marketing endeavours, this year we are going to keep a constant eye on what and how we communicate. In the New Year, our marketers will monitor and ensure that the company values and ethics are communicated, while maintaining transparency. More so, because this shift to value-based models could be daunting for brands with outdated marketing strategies and earn a bad reputation. Alongside, influencer content marketing will continue to prevail in the year 2021 with raw and real aesthetics. Moreover, factoring in the dominance of Gen-Z in the social media platforms, this trend is only set to grow and evolve further.
Technology: As discussed, technology is going to rule the roost here on. New age tech such as Artificial intelligence and Big data is set to become the order of the day. These techs will be used at the back-end for a number of inventory and logistics management. Over and above that these technologies will not remain limited to the backend alone. It will be integrated into the frontend or consumers facing jobs such as chat bots and virtual assistance. Not to say that these things are not happening already, in the year 2021 however, these techs in the frontend jobs will become more prevalent. Furthermore, tech will also be leveraged for AI marketing outreach.
Ecommerce: Brands adopting an Omni-channel approach is not news anymore. However, in the year 2021, all Omni-channel endeavours will be clubbed with advanced technologies like AI, Robotics, IoT, AV, VR etc. It is expected to be a top trend of the year. The world of e-commerce and brick and mortar is basically set for yet another evolution, where these techs will enable not only the comfort of online shopping in shops, but also the real shopping experience in offline shopping through e-commerce.
Enhancing shopping experience: Restricted movement and less in-store footfall has not only led to demand of exceptional products, but also its associated services. When it comes to in-store shopping, brands will be seen innovating in terms store design and operational practices, with social distancing and sanitation at the center of their innovations and tech will have a major role to play in it. Likewise, in online shopping, experiential shopping will pick up, while easy check-in and check-outs, ease of payment and faster delivery, attractive packaging and last-mile services will continue to evolve. Moreover, considering the fast pace of the world, where everyone seem to be in a hurry, same-day or even faster delivery will be a rising trend.
One thing that all of these focus areas have in common is, they are designed to enrich customer experience and improve customer engagement and outreach. With that said, we strongly believe that most retail brand will have these points as their key focus area for the year 2021.