Let’s face it. These are VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) times. We may have put the global economic crisis behind us, but the aftermath lingers on. Consider the retail space. True, consumers are opening their purse strings, but they’re doing it very selectively and expectations are sky high. They want the best product and the best price, encapsulated within the best shopping experience.
Also, the lines between the physical and virtual space are fast blurring; the customer has access to information like never before; and technology offers unlimited opportunities to fulfill customer expectations. Retailers are capitalizing on these shifts by leveraging technology to delight today’s discerning customer by offering their wants and much more.
Let’s first look at how retailers are making the most of the conventional brick and mortar store. Even though there is a strong emergence of e-commerce, the store continues to figure in their scheme of things to create the superior shopping experience. One way they are doing this is by optimizing store inventory management with Complex Event Processing (CEP) technology and Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). Further, they are improving efficiency with mobile kiosks that access store information through Application Programming Interface (API) service. APIs also help to engage with the customer better. For instance, mobile apps provide relevant information to customers at the store. Customers can access similar information online as well, even before setting out shopping.
Further, the manner in which retailers run campaigns has undergone a sea-change. The days when retailers pushed generic offers to customers are long gone. Instead we have smart retailers crafting intelligent campaigns based on customer buying patterns detected with the help of CEP systems. Retailers are also learning the innovation happening in engaging customers within the store by making targeted offers based on QR codes scanned by customers. They are also providing the facility of mobile payment for remote purchase.
Thanks to some smart leveraging of technology by retailers, store footfall is sure picking up. But it is quite evident from the sharp rise in mobile and smartphone shopping that online is the way to go for retail. So, retailers are working towards delivering the perfect online retail experience as well. For instance, when traffic goes beyond the projected peak, retail websites may be unable to handle the load which may affect the customer’s website experience. CEP again comes to the rescue by helping track traffic peaks and predicting performance outage scenarios. BAM provides traffic visibility and allows real-
time load distribution; cloud based architecture is useful for auto scaling. CEP System and cloud will surely turn out to be a killer combination.
Multi-channel management is another area of focus. Channel integration is important for consistent customer experience. New technologies not only allow customers to seamlessly carry forward a transaction from one channel to another, but also enable retailers to directly make channel-specific offers. Thanks to CEP, retailers can also draw insights from one channel and use them on another. For instance, data related to an abandoned virtual shopping cart can be used to make a sale at the physical store to the same customer. CEP and BAM also enable retailers to gather insights from social media chatter and utilize them to enhance customer experience. Further, with APIs, retailers can provide product catalogs, promotion offers and store locations on multiple social media channels.
Don’t you think a judicious mix of these diverse technologies powers business agility and enables retailers to offer a holistic shopping experience across channels, delight customers and create customer stickiness?