Saturday, November 30, 2013

Indian Retail trend – Technology impact on Shoppers and Shopping

The obvious topic related to technology impact on shopping is about E-Tailing and I am not going to talk about that since this is not anything new.
At several forums, I have been talking about two specific technological developments which would completely change the paradigm of shopping as we know it today. Retailers better be aware of this and stay ahead of the shopper learning curve. Otherwise, they are going to be left behind. This is especially relevant for Indian shoppers as we tend to have a high learning and adoption curve when it comes to new technology.
The first is about 3D printing or 3 Dimensional printing. My attention was drawn to this emerging technology when a few months ago, there was a news item about someone in the US using 3D printing  to make a gun at home and even firing a bullet from it. Since then I have been reading about some amazing stuff that 3D printing is enabling.  Another person has downloaded the entire blue print to print an Aston Martin car, which is the vehicle favored by James Bond. Check out this video about how this is being done.
My view about 3D printing having a high impact on retail was validated when I read about sweaters you can print or rather knit at home. Appalatch is a woolen and cotton cloth manufacturer. They are now spearheading a campaign to encourage customers to purchase a Stoll knitting machine which is being positioned as a 3D printer of knitted apparel.  While the cost of this machine is prohibitive as of now, it is bound to come down and become affordable soon. If other apparel manufacturers join the bandwagon of enabling you to print or make your own apparel at home, the cost is bound to reduce soon. Click here to read a detailed article about this development. 
The second related technology is about Google Glass. It is essentially a computing device plus a camera which is internet enabled and mounted on a pair of spectacles. The wearer can do a multitude of things with this device and the technology. You can look up details, take pictures, post online, etc. See this video about Google Glass to know more about it.
Google glass offers tremendous opportunity areas for Retailers to engage shoppers and even offer some differential services and experiences. However, the interesting development that I foresee is when a shopper pairs the above mentioned two technologies.
Supposing I am outside and see something I like, the picture can be taken using Google glass, online search for 3D printing can happen with options for customization and personalization, checking of price, etc. Finally I can even complete the transaction and trigger a print to my 3D printer at home.

So, I arrive home to find the product ready for my use. What all can I purchase like this is limited today but has no limit in the years to come. When edible pizzas and burgers have been printed, can other products be far behind!
Retailers can no longer just be providing merchandise for sale. If they do not add value to the shopper in several other dimensions, the stores might end up being exhibition halls where shoppers come to check out the products and use the technologies mentioned above to make the actual transaction from elsewhere.
If store staff did not like smart phones because it enables immediate price benchmarking, God help them when the scenario I have mentioned becomes a reality!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Think like a Shopkeeper & Operate like a Retailer

In spite of the hue and cry about allowing large Retailers into the country the fact remains that even during the massive slowdown of shopper sentiment during 2008 – 09, chain stores shut down many of their stops where as standalone shops were not affected as much, if at all.

If there is one single guiding principle for success in retail, be it stand alone stores, chain stores or E Tailing; it is the maxim “Think like a Shopkeeper, Operate like a Retailer
Indian Retail, Retail, Retail FDI, Ecommerce, Retail news

This is success mantra which I propagate in every possible forum and have written about it in my first column for ET

You can also join the discussion about this on my facebook page –