In the United States, 67% of entrepreneurs in the retail sector make investments that aim to improve their opportunities in a scenario of digital transformation business. The sector prepares for the impact of digital transformation, based on four fundamental axes: Cloud, Mobile, IoT, and social networks.

But, before talking about these four axes and their importance in the process, it is worth answering a key question: what to understand by digital transformation in the retail sector?

More than a different way of doing business, it is a reorientation of the company towards an environment defined by technology, in which it is possible to establish an effective, dynamic and interactive relationship with the client. How to achieve it? I explain.

What do we need to promote a process of digital transformation in the retail sector?

Addressing the process involves making a decision that will change the business focus of the organization and to achieve it, the following is essential:

  • Leadership of the top management of an organization.
  • Generate a change in the culture , initially in the employees, and, through them in the clients, and in other interested parties, such as the suppliers, for example.
  • Promote creativity and innovation -including physical resources- that allow creating the conditions to “connect” with a new type of client, without it feeling uncomfortable or strange.
  • Define the leaders of the digital transformation process within the organization and their work teams.
  • Implement continuous training programs for leaders, their teams and key employees within the company, in such a way that they acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to address this new reality.
  • Identify and implement corrective actions that will have a primary objective, to promote the improvement of the system.

The digital transformation of companies is necessary because the environments are also changing, and in the retail sector we are concretely challenged every day by a new digital consumer that has certain characteristics and behaviors:

  •  “He does not want to wait in a row.” The digital shopping cart is the ideal way to buy for it.
  • “He wants to be offered products based on his purchase history.” Recommendations based on the custom of a customer purchase save time and speed up decision making.
  • “He wants to see the products that interest him in the foreground.” The custom view options, according to the user, are the solution.
  • “He wants to get benefits by using mobile applications.” Discount points that can be redeemed are the best option.

It seems easy, right? … but in practice, it is necessary to have the technological support of our four axes -Cloud, Mobile, IoT, and social networks, supported by three fundamental pillars.

Fundamental pillars of digital transformation in the retail sector

  • The omnichannel experience

The customer wants to have the same shopping experience that he has enjoyed in the physical store, through different channels: apps, social networks, website, mobile devices and, of course, he wants his friends from the physical store to remain there for himself. At some point, you need a face-to-face interaction.

  • Personalization

Personalization is essential to achieve customer loyalty. The technological tools will allow the development of a personalized relationship with consumers. Shopping habits, shopping frequency, lifestyle, age, gender, and even -without becoming intrusive-, sexual preferences or political inclinations, will allow offering a personalized treatment to each client.

The online store must become a personalized space of experiences for each client.

  • The physical store, as an experience center

Within this new sales model, the physical store does not have to disappear. On the contrary, it acquires a special importance, insofar as it adapts to the new reality.

Digital screens specialized in self-service, mobile devices, images projected as holograms, barcode readers that offer complete product information, simulations, geotargeting and geofencing alerts …

The store must be assimilated to the virtual shopping experience the client has had, maintaining the essence of the contact and good personal attention.

Many companies are already generating innovative experiences in this regard. We have for example Rebecca Minkoff, who has generated a revolution with smart-mirrors or smart mirrors in the locker room. You probably already have your Amazon Dash Button, just by pressing it to receive your product sold out in a few hours or the Polo Teach Apparel by Ralf Laurent which is a sports shirt capable of collecting your vital signs.

The digital transformation in the retail sector is unstoppable and occurs in the face of the client, with strength that identifies the inside of the companies in the sector. We are facing a reinvention of processes, technologies, relationships, design and marketing of products, etc. With the aim of summarizing, these would be the fundamental axes where the strongest changes are being operated …

Fundamental axes of digital transformation in the retail sector

AXIS # 1 Cloud

The storage and management of information in the cloud allow many organizations in the retail sector, to dispense with a good part of the service of classic servers, with lower costs, solving in passing traffic problems that occurred during peak hours.

The increase in the use of cloud solutions, encourages the expansion and growth of small businesses, having the ability to execute processes and provide services that were previously only offered by large organizations.

Among others, the cloud provides the following benefits to companies in the retail sector:

  1. Lower management costs
  2. Flexible management of traffic peaks
  3. Custom solutions
  4. Security and reliability in the treatment of information

AXIS # 2 Mobile

Mobile devices have become the main accelerator of digital transformation in the retail sector. The applications manage to break down the existing barriers between the off and the online trade, even within the physical store.

The customer can appreciate the product physically, talk with the seller, and finally, choose to acquire it through the application, which will receive it at home, earn points and do not have to stand in line.

This is achieved by making available to the client applications that reproduce the in-person shopping experience more faithfully and enrich it.

AXIS # 3 IoT

The internet of things refers to the interconnection that can be established between objects and the network, with the purpose of making the life of human beings more comfortable or satisfying some need.

There are many examples of IoT that contribute to the digital transformation in the retail sector. However, the use of RFID tags is the clearest of all.

The RFID tags transmit data via radio frequency, allowing us to locate an item and description remotely. These labels integrate offline and online services in commerce so that users can locate stocks of a specific product, from a terminal ready for it.

RFID tags, among other benefits, facilitate the realization of inventories in a physical retail store.

The use of beacons – devices that transmit messages by means of a broadcast signal – has become popular in the retail sector, as a way of publicizing promotions or discounts in real time and measuring the impact they have on consumers.

In the future, it is likely that beacons can offer personalized information, offering consumers a unique and exclusive shopping experience.

Finally, beacons have the ability to collect information about customer behavior during their stay in the store, which can feed intuitive databases that yield data of great interest to experts in marketing and sales.

Virtual reality devices, augmented reality, QR codes … there are many devices that are part of the internet of things, which contribute to the digital transformation in the retail sector.

AXIS # 4 Social networks

More than 1,400 million people make use of social network chats in the world every day. This gives us an idea of the importance of this set of platforms that are essential in a digital transformation process and its benefits:

  • They allow establishing constant contact with the users, participating in conversations that allow them to know their needs or solve their concerns.
  • Through them, it is possible to promote sales of fashion products and turn them into a trend.
  • They can become a point of entry to a virtual store or the organization’s website.
  • It is possible to plan a Video marketing campaign (YouTube) or content (Facebook, Twitter), covering a wide range of potential customers.
  • It is possible to form communities or interest groups around products, product lines or social initiatives undertaken by the organization.

Digital transformation in the retail sector is underway.

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