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How Retail Sector Is Undergoing Transformation With IoT?

15-Mar-2021

How Retail Sector Is Undergoing Transformation With IoT?

The retail sector is experiencing a rapid transformation, catapulted by numerous factors such as easy credit availability, growing household incomes, electronic retailing (e-tailing), favorable demographics, and increased consumerism.

Retailers’ body Retailers Association of India (RAI) has requested the Government of India to express and execute national retail policy to facilitate ease of doing business and boost the retail industry. It also urged the centre to support retailers to register under MSME so that they can access all benefits given by MSMEs. Apart from that, the retailers' group has presented their point to the government for extending the Pradhan Mantri Yojana Scheme. They want financial support for the digitalization of small retailers and kiranas.

Disposable income, changing demographic profile, healthy economic growth, changing consumer tastes and preferences are some of the critical elements that help accelerate growth in the structured Indian Retail Market. There is an innovation experienced in financing too. Back in some previous years, a very small number of people bought online.

Today, we have so many nifty-gifty brands that care for our unique needs more than ever. 2021 Retail sector is not limited to only buying and selling. Allowing customers to track their products before delivery, taking customers’ reviews after delivery, Improving the customer’s experience through contactless delivery with providing them quality in their products becomes the everyday responsibility of retailers.

Mastermind Behind Retail Transformation?

Transformation is the word that we have read a number of times on the internet. Do you know what transformation is & what it does for the business? Well, transformation is basically a response to two things. First and foremost, it focuses on addressing the organization’s root issues. Secondly, top management and other stakeholders want to get the benefit of this opportunity to resolve these issues to help the organization transform its paradigm.

For business, it has three purposes:

  • To cut costs.
  • To improve customer satisfaction.
  • To increase market share or revenue.

One of the best digital transformation technologies is IoT (Internet of Things) that offers retailers an opportunity, mainly in three areas: the supply chain, customer experience, and new channels and revenue streams.

Digital transformation in the retail industry isn't the new concept now because retailers are already doing so many experiments with connected & intelligent devices to offer the latest services to customers. They reguarly try to create a advanced digital ecosystem to enter new markets and reshape the business trends.

Role of IoT in Retail Digital Transformation

IoT has two roles in retail transformation. It is working for customer benefits, and another, it focuses on offering you operational benefits.

What benefits customers can attain from the retail transformation:

1. Contactless Checkout

The most remarkable transformation in the retail industry is contactless checkout that aims to provide a user-friendly shopping experience to your customers. When they visit your online retail stores, it lets your customers avoid queues and kiosks by converting their smartphones into a POS. There is no need to download the mobile app even. It offers an advantage of contactless payments with a full-self service experience.

“COVID has increased the need for autonomous checkout and skyrocketed the technology solutions after having the demand from retailers. There are lot of retail technology service providers have this chance to figure out the need and launch according to the retailer and customers needs. Caper is one of the example, according to a news published at zdnet.

Lindon Gao, co-founder, and CEO of Caper says, "The Caper Counter builds on our momentum with the success of Caper Cart by offering similar AI technologies in a smaller format for small-footprint retailers and mini markets."  Without an expensive infrastructure or a big store upgrade for store owners, the Caper Cart offers a better and more convenient checkout experience to customers.

What to like is about the autonomous checkout that allows people to scan the product automatically, meaning customers have no need to do physical scanning of objects from any expert.

2. Smart Mirrors

The reason for transformation in the retail industry can be Smart Mirrors, also known as Magic Mirrors. It may be used in the bathrooms of high-end hotel rooms. The presence of a television remote control often gives surprise to guests. When the power button is pressed, a tiny television screen appears "magically" inside the mirror. This form of solution eventually can be found in retail, where it allows simple ads to be shown on mirrors to impress the shoppers.

For example, to help shoppers dress virtually, there are intelligent augmented reality softwares in market that allows customers to check how they are looking without going into a dressing room. Customers can try as many clothes virtually to examine their looks before making a purchase from retailers.

3. Barcode Scanning

It is possible for customers to scan a barcode on a garment to know its information. They can also check different sizes or colors on retailers' eCommerce sites to improve their personal experience.

Apart from that, customers can use wearable devices or their smartphones to check the product’s reviews, or read comments about products on social media, and scan much more information about the item.

4. Digital Coupons

The major IoT role in retail transformation is to give customers’ seamless shopping experience by hook or crook. With an IoT- based system, customers can easily access personalized digital coupons after entering the store. It helps them save more according to the actual price of items.

Every day, retailers add coupons and give discount options to customers according to their marketing strategy because it helps them increase customer loyalty and provides retailers a way to  make aboost in their sales conversion rates.

Almost every shopper today buy smartly, and they know how to save them during online shopping. They know how to apply coupons for the product and get some cash back or other deals. Most of the websites proffer free shipping and a particular percentage of discount so that they can buy at least one item whenever they check-in the retailer’s platform.

5. Real-Time Content

Content is the real king. If you don’t show products with relevant specifications or descriptions, your customer will predict that you don’t have etiquette for doing business or don’t know what they are looking for.

The reason to visit your retail website is to buy products from the comfort of homes. As a retailer, if you don’t consider customers' changing dynamics, how they will connect or shop from your brands in the future. Including the IoT-connected digital signage as the retail transformation is necessary. It allows you to publish the content to stores in real-time and lets you customize it based on specific regions, cities, or stores.

6. Smart Shopping Carts

Recently, Amazon has introduced its new shopping smart cart, namely The Amazon Dash Cart, which has a touchscreen feature that enables customers to access a scanner for coupons and Alexa shopping lists.

There will be a QR code that you can find in the Amazon app. When the cart is available, you will be able to start using it after making a simple sign-up. After Sign in, you can place your bags in the cart and start shopping. After completing this process, you can simply exit from the store and receive a receipt on your email, which will be shared by Amazon.

Operational Benefits

Automated retail technologies such as automated checkout, drones, and robots help the retail industry experience such a big transformation. Above, we already have discussed automated checkouts, and you may remember that feature is mainly designed to give benefits to customers. But what about operations benefits?

Does retail transformation help in operations?

The answer is YES, and you need to find out this answer below.

Smart Shelves

There are hundreds of thousands of products, which the retailers have to display in their e-store because your customer wants more variety, whether it is shoes, clothes, home appliances, kitchen appliances, baby products, makeup, or anything.

Yet, is it possible for you to provide each item all the time? Of course not, you buy products for your customers as per your budget. You decide how much quantity you have to give them. You need to determine when the product will go out of stock and when the product will show available. If you display your products' availability on a manual basis, it will take weeks or months. To solve these issues, big companies think to bring transformation in the retail sector by providing you an option of Smart Shelves.

Thus, Smart Shelves work based on RFID technology. It can be RFID readers, antennas, or RFID tags that enable you to track inventory automatically in retail stores. It helps you maintain inventory levels and help your customers know that your product is out of stock. In case of non-availability, either they can make a purchase of another product or visit someday again to buy that product.

This technology utilizes weight sensors to install within shelves for tracking the number of inventory placed on it. Some benefits of using smart shelves in the age of retail transformation are:

  • Providing you an update for shelf tags in real-time.
  • Improved customer service and optimized store performance.
  • Inventory management and stock information in real-time.
  • Providing or displaying information about the product in an effective and customized manner.
  • Allow the product to position correctly, and it helps you get reminders in case of displacement of the product.
  • It lets you get low stock alerts or reminders to reduce out-of-stock situations.

Smart Robots

Smart robots also work automatically to help in areas ranging from product assembly, stock replenishment to hazardous materials handling. Due to the drastic increasing rate of COVID-19, many retailers have started using automation in their store operations.

One of the automation practices is smart robots that give you assistance for order picking or provide you inventory visibility to optimize your business operations better. Such robots can identify your customers' behavior patterns and capture more granular data about the products that are available on the shelves.

Some advantages of including smart robots in your retail digital transformation journey are, it gives you more accuracy and efficiency while managing inventory. You can track stock levels, product movement, product placement in real-time. It is ideal for correct and accurate tagging, stocking, and pricing of products.

Additional Operational Benefits to Consider:

  • Smart Packaging that monitors the age or freshness of perishable goods.
  • Smart Price Tags that you can change in real-time and based on trends and other demands.
  • Sensors help you check the age of perishable items and their quality. It notifies the suppliers that they have a need to give either discount to customers or inventory replenishment.

What More To Expect From Digital Transformation in Retail - Examples

Retail applications are highly complex and customized because it involve multiple operations and help the business run through different modes of service. In case of not working on its criticality, you will not be able to experience continuity and growth. It can spoil your business reputation and allow your customers to ignore and disrespect your brand when they are dissatisfied.

So, it becomes necessary to maintain perfect synchronization between numerous component systems such as POS, Ecommerce, Business Intelligence System, and Inventory Management. To give your customers world-class e-commerce and retail experience, you need to work for all functions.

Related Read: POS Testing: Components, Testing And Challenges

For Example, in stores, you need to take care of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Point of Sale, KIOSK, Hardware Devices (Scales and Scanners), In-store productivity, Service Management (Sensors/IoT).

Second Example, for enterprise management, you need to focus on analytics, merchandising, inventory, loss prevention, and accounting integration.

Third Example, for warehouse management, you need to think about replenishment, warehouse automation, IoT sensors, distributions & fulfillment, inventory management, allocation, etc.

Fourth Example, for Omni-channel, you need to consider loyalty and CRM, cross-channel integration, digital marketing, e-commerce re-platforming, digital commerce optimization, and make your device compatible for various mobile devices.

Adopting the New Normal - Implementing Software Testing in All Retail Operations

There is a need to execute software testing in retail, purposely. It ensures the product's working functionality is going on the right track as expected, as well as assures customers with a positive experience.

  • For E-Commerce (Security Testing, Usability Testing, Performance & Load Testing, Stress Test, Functional Testing).
  • For Fraud Prevention, Warehouse Management, Vendor Management (Validation Testing, Integration Testing, Functional Testing, Security Testing.
  • For Supply chain Management (End-to-End Testing).
  • For enhanced customer service (Seamless integration testing of salesforce automation).

How BugRaptors Can Be Your Assuring Partner?

BugRaptors is one of the leading and independent software testing company covering assurance for different retail brand with their nex generation quality services. We have specialized retail domain expertise who have robust technical experience in advisory services, functional, non-functional testing, migration and consulting for retail QA services. We have inhouse built frameworks and tools with integration of emerging technologies from augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence to IoT, to take your retail business to the next heights on all quality aspects.

Incase you want to consult our retail QA team, do ping us here - info@bugraptors.com or share your details.

Related Case Study : Testing Ecommerce Website & Applications For Assured Compatibility Through Selenium Webdriver & Appium

author

Zoheb Khan

Zoheb works as QA Consultant at BugRaptors. He has excellent logic skills for understanding the work flow and is able to create effective documentation. He is well versed with manual testing, mobile app testing, game testing, cross platform, and performance testing. Highly motivated and ISTQB Certified tester with excellent analytical and communication skills.

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