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Disruptions in Retail Through BX-led Digital Transformation

The next wave of technological disruption will shape the future of retail, and merchants must begin planning now.

The trends range from virtual to physical, and include both humans and machines, providing opportunity for shops who can innovate and execute well.

With so much change in the retail industry, now is the moment to grasp how emerging technology can help retailers develop and compete in the future.

Ambitious retail organizations can shape new physical and digital realities and alter their businesses in this decade.

The Metaverse Continuum

The Metaverse Continuum is a collection of technologically upgraded worlds, realities, and business models that will transform life and business in the coming decade.

From consumers to employees, from real to virtual, and from cloud and artificial intelligence to extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, edge technologies, and beyond, it applies to all aspects of a commercial company.

The metaverse, as the next step in the Internet’s growth, will be a continuous stream of quickly evolving capabilities, use cases, technologies, and experiences.

The Metaverse Continuum will change how businesses connect with their clients, how they work, what products and services they offer, how they create and distribute them, and how they run their businesses.

This manner of life may appear futuristic now, but the metaverse is rapidly approaching.

A never before seen shopping experience

Retailers who sprint through this wave of technological upheaval, just like they did at the start of the digital era, will likely be better positioned for the future. The good news is that retailers now have a better idea of what’s coming and can begin investing and experimenting right away.

There are four key trends – from virtual to real, across humans and technology, to see where ambitious retailers might find lucrative opportunities by uprooting themselves from the present and firmly planting themselves in the future.

1. Web3

Web3 looks at how the internet is being rebuilt, and how customers will no longer only view digital material, but also live it.

Web3 investigates how the internet is evolving. The solutions that saved retail during the epidemic were designed for today’s internet. The whole online footprint that merchants have established over the last decade will need to be redesigned thanks to metaverse and Web3 advances. Digital material will no longer be viewed by customers. They will experience it.

2. Emerging Technology

Emerging Technology is the increasingly complex way in which technology is weaved through our physical settings.

Stepping into the metaverse can help merchants increase their target markets and generate new revenue sources. One of the possibilities is the capacity to construct very diverse virtual spaces.

Customers can discover and experience things in ways that engage the senses, embody the brand, and transport individuals to new realities.

3. Design Thinking

The various levels of the programmable world, which each use distinct technologies, will provide merchants with new ways to augment, personalize, automate, alter, and otherwise “programme” our physical environments, as well as a whole new competitive landscape for retailers.

It shows how the convergence of 5G, ambient computing, augmented reality, smart materials, and other technologies is reshaping how organizations interact with the physical world. As technology becomes more integrated into our environment, we will be able to treat it more like technology, allowing us to achieve unprecedented levels of control, automation, and personalisation.

As we design for the future, we are on the verge of redefining the boundaries of the retail industry. As a new class of devices emerges, the outer boundary of what is computationally conceivable is being disrupted.

Many non-technical retail executives aren’t familiar with computational theory and hardware, yet they can’t afford to be caught off guard. This transition will not occur overnight, but it is well started, and each new benchmark is a step closer to retail operations and innovation breakthroughs. That is why retail executives require front-row seats to the quantum revolution.

The distinctions between what is genuine and what isn’t will blur as merchants push AI to be more collaborative, helpful, and insightful—and as it is employed in more creative ways—raising challenging challenges.

Customers and retailers must agree to a new social contract that allows retailers to utilize synthetic data.

Different parts will most likely have different answers to these ethical questions. Will shoppers accept the unreal when purchasing clothing? Or perhaps when they go to the pharmacy? Now is the time for retailers to begin creating trust. To ensure the validity and provenance of digital content, an uniform methodology and governance will be required.

A consumer who wants to stay connected

During the pandemic, consumer behavior changed, and innovative merchants served as the industry’s backbone, using advanced technology to serve a new set of customers. This has all suggested change as customers spend more time at home, take safeguards for minimal human interaction, and shop online.

At various stages of the consumer decision-making process, retailers must refresh their tactics and be innovative.

“The degree of change that happened in the previous six months is seismic,” said Amit Jain, MD, L’Oreal. “The lockdown has altered human and consumer behavior.”

Consumers today demand easy access to products and services, and technology has taken the lead in bringing businesses and consumer desires together.

This digital revolution of retail via digital technologies is a game-changing invention that has disrupted the whole retail business.

Consumer preferences have moved to an era where retailers are using disruptive technologies to make customers happy, and the pandemic has further accelerated that trend.

The retail industry is inventing products, marketing strategies, and product presence to stay relevant in today’s world.

Being online is no longer a choice; it has become a necessity. ‘Are these technology upheavals bringing any new prospects to propel the retail industry?’ is the question to be investigated.

Retail innovations that drive online purchasing

In one of his studies, Christopher Freeman described innovation as “not to innovate means to die.”

The retail industry’s technology progress in recent years has opened up a new universe of possibilities for personalizing and engaging customer trips.

This digital shift is also benefiting consumers in Tier II and III cities. With developments like in-store robots, billing counters operated by bots, facial recognition, virtual shopping assistants, augmented shopping, voice commerce, and more, the retail business has become more sophisticated.

By 2023, the worldwide gamification market is predicted to increase US$19.39 billion, according to Data Intelligence, and retail holds the highest stake in this market, with 70% of merchants employing in-store beacons for location-based marketing.

As a result, it marks the beginning of a new phase of retail that is wiser in giving a mesmerizing experience by being ubiquitous, coordinating real-time feedback, optimizing the customer journey, and leading the domino effect.

Retailers have been pushed to think outside the box by online purchasing, and many such innovations have been observed in recent years, such as Facebook opening Shops and connecting businesses with Facebook and Instagram users.

“This is another huge step by Facebook,” says Ben-Zvi, Tinuiti’s Director Paid Social, “that will eventually allow users to connect with businesses directly on the platforms from start to finish, from discovery to transaction.”

Similarly, Shopify’s new global relationship with TikTok enables Shopify merchants to reach out to a younger audience via social commerce.

Consumers were pleased to see online retailers grow their offline footprint, however Covid-19 has slowed this process, and it is expected to see online retailers enter traditional retail, such as Amazon’s opening of the Amazon GO fresh Grocery Store.

In this age of instant satisfaction, the most significant innovation is faster delivery, which Amazon pioneered and which other merchants are racing to match with order management software. A personalized purchasing experience is also available through voice assistant shopping and live conversations with Chatbots.

Whether changes in customer behavior prompted digital transformation or digital transformation prompted changes in consumer behavior, one thing is certain: the retail business has been flipped upside down.

Demand forecasting using machine learning, cashier-less stores, voice orders, and syncing online and in-person alternatives are all important digital innovations that are reshaping the future of retail.

Retail disruption could be caused by a number of variables, but four key ones are the store as the ultimate purchasing destination, the ease of using technology, the expansion of social networks, and the millennial population.

48 percent of retailers projected demand to strengthen in 2021 with consumers driving sales upwards, according to CBRE’s recent poll.

Trends such as personalized experience, sustainability, flexibility, subscription-based models, voice commerce, unique experiences, and omnichannel strategy present potential for the retail business.

In the future, these methods will help shops stand out from the crowd. Retailers have witnessed a significant structural boost in the last year, and future performance will be driven by swift and responsible transformation, as consumers have begun to place greater emphasis on purchase channels and safety factors, in addition to price and quality.

Retail disruption is already here

Retailers are at a crossroads in history. Not because there are new technologies to master, but because competing in the coming decade will necessitate more than just improved technological and innovation skills.

It will necessitate a truly competitive vision—both for what these future retail worlds could look like and what consumers will expect from them, as well as what the company will most likely need to compete in them.

As the dust settles from the epidemic, the retail landscape appears to have been irreversibly changed. The gap between retail industry leaders and laggards has widened, as it has in other industries. Even before the pandemic, the retail business had been undergoing tectonic shifts as a result of technological and customer trends.

The epidemic has hastened this shift by many years, with businesses hastily revamping themselves to keep up.

The greater transition to e-commerce was the most frequently mentioned disruptor. While the ‘Amazon effect’ in terms of Bezos’ behemoth’s widespread presence in consumers’ shopping patterns is now ingrained into the consciousness of many retail CEOs, there is still much to play for in terms of e-commerce.

The risks, however, are great, the intricacy is difficult, and the rewards on investment are low. When you add in a lack of understanding about the stickiness of new customer shopping behaviors, it looks that some big, calculated risks will be required.

The introduction of new competitors is the next source of anxiety for retailers. While Amazon continues to cast a long shadow over retail, there are some areas where it has faltered, such as luxury and grocery, and others where consumers do not want it.

New competition, on the other hand, poses a greater challenge. Legacy infrastructure and footprint issues are rarely a problem for newer firms. They can combine hyper-targeted marketing – which is often driven through social media – with the flexibility to shift gears without a major expenditure.

This is especially important as e-commerce expands.. Newer market entrants have implemented software as a service and cloud hosting (ironically often employing Amazon’s extremely profitable AWS infrastructure), where traditional retailers spent significant sums on the technological infrastructure that supported their initial timid ventures into e-commerce.

Concerns about the environmental impact and social contribution (or lack thereof) of the things people buy and the businesses from whom they buy continue to grow. This adds a new dimension to the concept of the “self-centered customer,” as we’ve previously described it.

For retailers, this is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of inconvenience. The bad news is that the new economic driver is disruption. To handle both known and unknown disruptors, retailers, like so many other firms, will need to incorporate heretofore unseen levels of agility into their operations and business models.

While many companies are implementing new technology to address some of these difficulties, this raises a slew of new concerns about automation, data privacy, and cybersecurity.

It does not speak well for the sector that only 40% of retailers in our index are optimistic that their firms can handle the current disruption. There is much to be done, especially in light of growing worries about industry talent gaps, which are exacerbated by the fact that many businesses are now competing for similar talents in technology, data analytics, and software engineering.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Retailers are at a once-in-a-generation turning moment, and crises provide opportunities. Those who commit to dramatic change and focus on the next generation of retail – nimble, technology-driven, data-driven, and fiercely customer-focused – will thrive.

Those who take cautious efforts are significantly less likely to succeed. Uncertainty will persist for some time, and disruption will continue. Retailers who recognise and embrace this paradigm will be prepared for the future, whatever it may hold.

The retail industry has undergone fast transformations in recent years, as pandemics have pushed the industry to its breaking point in these challenging times. Retailers are giving highly tailored services to their customers by combining online and offline channels.

“We’ve done things in weeks that would have taken years in normal conditions,” said Mike Gorge, President & CEO of Qurate Retail Group.

Business Experience in Retail

Rapidly changing consumer attitudes and priorities, like so many other causes of disruption in consumer-facing organizations, present an extra difficulty. Consumers increasingly desire true values to lie behind their purchases, in addition to ease of access, personalization, the correct price, and a flawless service.

This means that, more than delivering an exceptional experience, they focus on the continuous search to identify new needs of their customers. It’s what experts call Business Experience (BX).

Organizations use CX to track customer touchpoints and serve them accordingly to get more benefits.

No doubt CX has become beneficial for business, but it still has some challenges, such as rapidly changing customer expectations.

CX works only on touchpoints ( for eg. company websites, product catalbusog, pages and packing, kiosks, brick and mortar store,  point of sales ).

But, customers bring a purpose, problem, need, or question—along with expectations for how quickly or easily that outcome will be realized while interacting with the brand.

Therefore there is a need to move beyond the belief that touchpoints are where experiences start and end.

Now, there is a need to move beyond CX. The customers need more than just products and services; they demand more innovation and engaging experiences for immediate benefits. 

Experience innovation is about solving problems in fundamentally new ways. And that requires rethinking your starting point for innovation as anchored to human needs. 

Business Experience (BX) as a renaissance is driving companies to push beyond the traditional CX philosophy and orient the whole business around the delivery of exceptional experiences.

These experiences must respond to customers’ new, often unmet, and frequently changing needs.

BX builds on CX’s foundations to offer organizations a more holistic approach to become customer obsessed and reignite growth. 

Changing the mindset from CX to BX means thinking beyond the traditional methods of enhancing customer experiences to a holistic view including business and operating models, products and services, employee experiences, delivery models, purpose and value, and innovation.

Uncovering unmet retailer-consumer gaps and business needs means thinking about how you make your customers happier and more loyal, identifying what they need.

BX is about the whole company anticipating and delivering on these expectations to provide customer value.  

Achieving and maintaining leadership in the retail industry requires an organization-wide approach – one with a heavy, concerted focus on customer experience, employee experience, data, analytics, operations, and technology.

BxT is a mindset to be adopted to tackle digital transformation. Kilowott leverages its expertise and leadership in design, digital technologies and business process automation for a complete end-to-end business experience transformation (BxT) within the retail, ecommerce, omnichannel, supply chain, logistics, and transport industry.

Need a disruptive change to the human experience for your business or organization? Let’s talk

Jonas Bocarro
Jonas Bocarro

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