Key technology trends that are reshaping retail

Key technology trends that are reshaping retail


STOrai Magazine

STOrai Magazine

113 week ago — 6 min read

Retail businesses have been impacted by the pandemic to a degree that is greater than ever before. There are certain key trends that can be seen across the retail industry irrespective of format and category, which are shaping the present and future of retail in the country.


Customer-focused transformation

Inclusive shopping is the new normal for retail. It involves customers interacting with retailers or brands in multiple ways. Concepts like assisted shopping, stylists booking/guided shopping, buying online & returning in any store or buying in any store & returning in any store, buying online and shipment from nearest store, augmented reality for styling/ fit recommendations, international shipments etc. are becoming norm.


Technology is playing a big role in everything, right from suspect/prospect marketing to a single view of inventory, customer care, product proposition, product discovery and forward path journey to the return path journey of orders.


All these use cases are leading to a shift in technology complexity and it is forcing companies to break silos and build a single view of customers. This is possible only if internal processes and data pipelines are built in a way that combines the backend with frontend touch points supported by platforms approach. Technology and people with relevant capabilities are playing a big role in everything, right from suspect/prospect marketing to a single view of inventory, customer care, product proposition, product discovery and forward path journey to the return path journey of orders.


Implementing these doesn’t require big budgets, but calls for a team that defines the end goal that is aligned to business model and proposition and goes after that goal. It’s a collaborative effort, driven by an operating model that is simple with a clear idea of who owns what.


Internal Change Management

With virtual and remote working becoming a call of the day, simple tools are helping people across functions to collaborate effectively on many topics, identify and report issues/problems, detail out product roadmaps, new requirements/features, delegate work, and monitor progress of various tasks/projects. Project and workflow management tools and video conferencing platforms have become integral to working across cross-functional teams. This is a big change that is making an impact on the future of workspaces and the rewards and recognition equation. There are various task groups that are created in many companies, each working towards creating the new in their businesses and consumer ecosystems. What is more interesting and positive is that right from leadership team to an intern in the company; everybody is more connected and available to drive the change that is demanded by macro environment & consumer/partner ecosystem.


Future outlook

Keeping the macro environment in mind, digital & data management, IT security and internal capability development will remain key areas of investment for all brands and retailers to help them to further sharpen their competitive edge.


With the probability of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 becoming a reality, brands will have to rewrite many processes and look at better ways to maintain data and privacy to continue enjoying customer trust.


Technology investments will move more towards those topics that help build a top line, improve customer proposition and meet legal requirements or efficiencies in the value chain.


Rapid fire with the expert

If Budget is not a constraining factor, which technologies would you adopt for your organisation?

If budget is not a constraint, companies will invest in areas that strengthen their architecture foundations that helps making them flexible and scalable. Furthermore, they need to invest in building capabilities that create significant differentiation. Companies with strong technology foundations have strong people capability, win faster in sustaining and improvising consumer proposition, garnering market share and building scale.


What is your secret behind always staying abreast of the latest in technology?

Being a curious soul, I’m always engaging in activities that help me gain a better perspective on various technology trends and their impact. There are various problems that enterprises are trying to solve. So, I tend to learn from what others are doing and what short/ long term problems my team needs to solve. I try to marry the what and how and the end goal equation.


Given multiple lockdown situations & staying indoors, what do you do to unwind?

As we are spending more time inside the house I discovered that there is lot of good content that is available on OTT platforms which I can watch with my family and also alone. I take frequent walks, and aim to get good sleep. Though it’s more of a virtual world now, I’m connecting and talking to many more friends and relatives to rewire myself.


Also read: Lasting wisdom: Lessons from the pandemic for retail businesses

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Article published in STOrai Magazine.  Vishal Kapil is a CTO at leading Fashion Retailer and part of its regional senior leadership team. He has 20+ years of experience in Retail, Media & Technology industries across Emerging Markets, EU and US. He has worked on enterprise, Digital & Tech transformation initiatives that have made significant impact on business and consumer ecosystems.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.