Having been in the Retail Technology space for a while, and fortunate to have worked with retail technologies in the US, Europe as well as India, one fine day I decided to look for other like-minded enthusiasts who would have holistic, unbiased, pragmatic and passionate views about technology in the Retail industry.
- Holistic – Emphasizing the importance of the overall set of technologies in Retail and the interdependence of its subsets.
- Unbiased – Without prejudice, impartial, and a technology / product agnostic viewpoint that is geared primarily towards business solutions.
- Pragmatic – Advocating behavior that is dictated more by the practical needs of Retail businesses rather than by theory or coolness of the technology. Don’t get me wrong though . . . I’m all for cool technologies, and hope to cover a lot of them in my blog. However, they need to be aligned well with the real needs of the market rather than the primary focus being a heightened “cool quotient”.
- Passionate – Arising from or marked by passion both for Retail as well as Technology. Most retailers know that passion for retail embodied within their teams is a key attribute that contributes towards their success. Most technologists know that passion for technology is a key ingredient for innovation. I personally believe that passion is a critical factor to achieve any kind of success.
After many moons of endless seeking and having gone through the lifespans of several smart devices that I used for my search at the slightest opportunity that I got, I found that there were many resources out there which focused on specific technology areas within Retail. However, I wanted more. I wanted a go-to resource on the web that covered comprehensively, the technologies geared towards Customer-centric Retailing. Some of the perspectives surrounding Customer-centric Retailing as understood by me are:
- Multi-channel Retail: Going beyond siloed channels, and extending to how technology can help bring e-commerce, catalog sales, brick-and-mortar stores and mobile channels together to leverage the dependencies that exist amongst them to help retailers grow their business rather than fall prey to them.
- Mobility in Retail: Not just consumer apps and mobile commerce transactions, but how Retailers can use this technology to take some power back from the new-age customer, and influence his purchasing behavior both outside and within their brick-and-mortar stores.
- Social Media: Product reviews and polls are definitely a necessity, but today’s Retailers need to go way beyond that. Creating a social media presence that is a mix of creativity and technology to become an integral part of consumer lifestyles is what Retailers are looking at embracing today.
- Customer Loyalty: Rewarding customers for their loyalty is something that retailers take very seriously. In an environment where competition is also rewarding their customers, understanding how technology can help increase the consumers’ share of wallet for retailers.
- Pricing and promotions: Price optimization and dynamic promotion engines are very powerful systems, but is their potential truly realized? Understanding the importance and ways of percolating the value created by these systems and executing them reliably through multiple channels resulting in Customer satisfaction and building a trusted relationship with Customers is what would make these technologies complete.
- Point of Sale (POS) Systems: Mission critical systems, obviously which need to adhere to stringent quality of service parameters. However, should these parameters be solely around sales transactions? The new look at POS systems is also with a perspective of Customer Service. Speedy and accurate Point of Sale systems that additionally, bring a smile to the Customer’s face, are gaining prominence.
- Real-time Decisions and Execution: As individuals, we all want instant gratification, so why should Retail organizations be left out? Last century technologies have given way to more contemporary technologies that encourage the coupling of real-time decision-making with real-time execution of retail strategies.
This of course is only an indicative list of some of the elements that I feel, constitute Customer-centric Retailing. This list will hopefully grow based on future contributions from my readers and me.
This blog is meant to be all that I was looking for. By no means am I claiming that I will be able to do justice to what I am attempting alone. I will not only try to cover what’s happening in the Retail Technology marketplace, but would try to have an approach that is aligned with modern-day Retail business challenges. I promise to provide my take on a variety of topics and issues. However, if this blog is to be a success, then it would be made successful by my readers who I hope will pose tough challenges to me, and additionally, challenge the positions that I take on various topics.
Since I have a day job as a Chief Technology Officer at Criti, a multi-national company that takes Retail business transformation using technology as an enabler very seriously, I will try to update this blog as frequently as possible. My aim is to have new posts weekly, and to answer questions ASAP. Again . . . the more participation I get from my audience, the more encouraged will I be to grow this initiative and help those who approach me.