Showing posts with label Retail Analytics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retail Analytics. Show all posts

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Future of Retail; Bringing the store to you

Google Glasses coupled with 3D printing opened up a whole new dimension of shopping. I had written about this and a blue sky idea was that people might move away from purchasing products to buying 3D print designs and make their own products at home. This is very much a possibility in the future when the materials and composites required for various kinds of 3D printed products as also 3D printers become main stream and a part of most homes.

In the meantime there is another interesting technology which might merge the physical and online retail worlds to give you the best of both.

Shoppers opt for eTailing because of price, convenience and range. The competitive advantage of convenience is coupled by the fact that online retail is not constrained by physical store size. This enables them to offer a far wider and deeper range, called as a long tail of merchandise.

Shoppers also take the trouble of going to physical stores in order to browse and have a shopping experience which consists of “Touch, Feel and See”.

Imagine a scenario where you want to shop for a new dress and you sit back in your recliner and the store actually comes to you and enables you to shop. Is that not a fantastic combination of physical and online retail? 

Is that possible?

There are emerging technologies which enable visualization which has led to innovations like virtual dressing rooms. However, a new technology when coupled with visualization might actually bring the shop to you in the near future.

Microsoft has been working on a technology called HoloLens. 

Very simply put, this creates a 3 dimensional holographic view for the viewer and they can interact with the same. This video would give you a better idea about HoloLens.

How is this relevant and applicable to retail?

Retailers can leverage this platform to create 3 dimensional stores which can be accessed by the shopper in the comfort of their home. Creating such 3D stores is already possible and being used for a different purpose. Today there are several IT solutions that create a 3 dimensional rendering of the store and make is quite realistic. See the first video to get an idea about how 3D store would look like and the second video to see how Carrefour has used Google Street View to create a virtual shopping experience using kiosks and hand held devices. 

The logical next step would be to project this as a 3D immersive hologram in the coming years.

Combine these technologies and it would be possible to bring home the store. Add on technologies which are being worked on like delivering sensory influences such as smell and a feel of touch. Voila, your store will be as real as it can be and more importantly, exclusive to you.

In such a scenario, if you want to buy a new dress you might sit back and slip on your HoloLens device or some other similar device and the store comes alive before you. You can browse, use visualization to try on dresses, check out accessories, compare prices and much more.

As compared to printing products at home, bringing the store home seems much closer to reality. This is all the more pertinent in the current context where both physical and online retailers realize the need to be present on both platforms. A giant like Amazon has opened physical stores and several physicals stores are in the online space.

Bringing a store home is now possible and a retailer who gets their act together to make this happen might establish a strong competitive advantage, especially in India.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Indian Retail & Social Media

When the whole world is going gaga about social media and now people are starting to talk about the possible decline of the same, Indian Retail seems to be watching this trend from the sidelines with some token presence here and there.

Indian Retail, Social Media Marketing, Retail Analytics, Big Data

Big Data, the next big thing in Analytics has caught everyone’s attention but the root of this lies in being able to connect the dots across various data points of a consumer, especially their behavior and preferences expressed on social media. I wonder how Indian Retail will leverage big data without any meaningful engagement of the shoppers on the various social media platforms.

A recent initiative by a toy store chain led me examine this issue and ET Retail has published a two part article about this. 

Click here to read Part 1 which examines this in detail.

Click here to read Part 2 which is prescriptive and outlines some of the basic steps that are required to engage the shoppers on social media platforms.

In summary, the core thought is that social media needs to become an integral part of the Retailer’s strategy and cannot be limited to SEO efforts only.

Image courtesy - 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Indian Retail; Analytics is dead without Operational Excellence

The hot topic nowadays is “Big Data” and therefore analytics. This promises to have great potential for Retailers in terms of understanding and interpreting shopper behavior and expectations. Thereby enabling the Retailer to develop a more focused and sharply defined competitive advantage.
But, then are we missing something very important here?
I think the more important thing especially in the Indian retail scenario is operational excellence and execution focus. However, this does not sound as “cool” and futuristic as “Big Data”. Perhaps this is why I am asked more about “Big Data” and analytics in many of the forums, programs and classes and there is a marked decrease in interest levels when I choose to talk about operational excellence.
Analytics and “Big Data” is essentially about interpreting data. What if the underlying data itself was wrong?
Retail, Indian Retail, Store, CRM, Indian Retail Industry
This poster was displayed outside a leading chain of stores recently. Apart from the obvious mistake of printing out the email verbatim and just sticking it on a stand, the entire approach is incorrect and counterproductive.
The bonus points have a cost attached to it in terms of the redemption value, the cost of administering the system, etc. The Retailer has started incurring this cost hoping that capturing the birthday and anniversary details of shopper will create a sales opportunity. The bonus points are a reward or can even be called a bribe to make the shopper share this information with the Retailer.
You can see the level of operational excellence or rather the lack of it in the picture. In this context, how productive and useful is the cost and effort being expended on such initiatives? More importantly, what would be the accuracy of any analytics done on this? Suppose a report was being generated about the shopper participation in this scheme, it will obviously have very poor numbers and the data would be skewed.
Instead, if the Retailer had spent some more in having a better caliber of person who sends out an email with a separate attachment of the poster with the attachment, the impact level improves. Added to that is if the Retailer motivates the staff to implement such initiatives, then the impact and the data coming out of such programs would be far more meaningful.
In such a context is it worth it to spend large sums of money on software and skilled people to mine data and analyze the same?
Take a simpler example of sales data. The cashier tries to scan a product and when they are unable to locate the product code, they scan it using some other product code with the same price to complete the billing. This directly affects the inventory and sales data. H would such a level of data accucy help in any analysis?
At least in the Indian context there exists enormous opportunities for shopper delight and increasing operational productivity which will have a direct impact on the bottom line. Analytics and fascination with “Big Data” is good and should happen but after the operational issues are fixed and execution excellence is a reality.
Click HERE to join the debate about whether Retail analytics should wait for execution excellence.