Article

Anitha Rajagopalan
Anitha Rajagopalan 11 October 2016

Transforming The Digital Retail Space

With digital adoption, we can see a radical change in the retail consumer journey. Mobile devices have become the center for sales, marketing, engagement and building consumer relationships. Interactive features and rich visuals can now be used to spread awareness and feature attributes about the products and build brand presence and loyal consumers.

The worlds of traditional commerce and e-commerce are merging. Digital transformation is one of the hot topics in the retail space. The digitally empowered consumers have changed the face of retail, putting pressure on brands to adapt to this trend of digital transformation. The Digital transformation powered by the  disruptive technologies  including big data, predictive analytics, and IoT is poised to make the entire journey of purchase and sale seamless and delightful. In short, the entire supplier to consumer value chain is experiencing greater interaction and productivity through the use of social media, smartphones, and other digital platforms/ channels.

Digital Transformation in the consumer journey

With digital adoption, we can see a radical change in the retail consumer journey. Mobile devices have become the center for sales, marketing, engagement and building consumer relationships. Interactive features and rich visuals can now be used to spread awareness, feature the attributes about products and to build brand presence and loyal consumers. The industry and the audience have evolved from being digitally enabled to digitally transformed as online wallets, self-service options, services on demand and reaching the consumers from 360-degrees have become an actuality. It has been found that by 2020, there will be over 200 billion devices connected to the Internet.

Already 67% of executives believe that digital transformation is now “a question of survival” for business.

Digital transformation in retail has influenced various touch points. Digital transformation in-store is being used by retailers now to gain competitive edge and deliver better services to the consumers by analyzing their preferences, detecting consumer location, targeting personalized promotions and providing a platform to digitally showcase its products and improve the buying experience.

Social media marketing  is reaching consumers like never before. This channel is being exploited to a great extent for showcasing products, features, sales, building engagement and customer relationships. This forum has also become the center for feedback and consumer service. Digital marketing solutions are increasingly used by marketers to filter the target audience across regions based on their interest and behavior and customized products are shown to the consumers. Around 77% of IT managers believe that digital transformation helps increase consumer satisfaction.

CRM systems are going through a drastic transformation and are now capable to deliver a 360-degree view of consumer’s interactions, touch points, and social engagements.A digital supply chain ensures superior collaboration and extensive information availability, resulting in improved agility, reliability and effectiveness.

Challenges of Digital Transformation in Retail

A 2015 survey report from The Economist Intelligence Unit reveals that only 10% of organizations describe themselves as fully digital. Even though the retail sector is ready to embrace the opportunities that the digital world presents, there are quite a few challenges that need to be addressed

The major challenge is that the retail marketers are still not confident in their digital ability especially when it is about dealing with online-offline experiences. Only 48% say they feel highly proficient in digital marketing.The challenge with accepting the change is also huge in this sector. It is not enough to be partially digital, the retail industry players have to pursue the digital transformation initiative with full conviction. The rigidity towards change needs to be worked on and retail space needs to focus on getting reshaped into a more technology focused environment. However, we can expect that like any other change this is also a temporary initial reluctance and with time would see greater acceptance and adoption the global retail organizations.

Digital transformation is the key to the overall success in the highly competitive world of retail. Development in technology, in- depth training, cultural change, a customer-first attitude and building a sustainable journey is what constitutes the entire cycle of digital transformation in a retail organization.  This will have a huge impact on both the business objectives and the customer journeys. As the system gets more advanced there will be newer challenges to overcome in this journey.  Retailers need to be vigilant and must get ahead quickly to avoid the chance of getting side-stepped in the path of digital transformation.

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